SportsGeek

Miami Dolphins: 1%

Playoffs.

For the first time since 2008 the Miami Dolphins are headed to the playoffs. After a 1-4 start rookie head coach Adam Gase has willed an injury plagued team to the post-season.

There should be nothing but joy in South Beach…Right?

Not quite. There is unrest in Dolphins nation. For all the challenges and obstacles this team has overcome the disrespect is real.

Often franchises will try to create the notion that it is ‘us vs them’ to motivate the team and their fans. It is an effective motivational tool. In the Dolphins case they do not need to create anything. Nation media seems to enjoy slapping them in the face. For some reason there are those who seek to invalidate the achievements of this season.

There is the NFL Power Index which in the final edition ranked the Denver Broncos ahead of the Dolphins even though the Dolphins made the postseason as a wild card ahead of the Broncos. Miami did not make the playoffs as the best team of a bad division(yes I’m looking at you Texans), they had to fight and claw ahead of the Broncos among other teams to make the postseason.  They had to sweep division rivals Buffalo and New York-teams who had owned Miami in recent years. They had to overcome injuries to Reshad Jones, Mike Pouncey, Koa Misi, Jelani Jenkins and most recently the loss of franchise quarterback Ryan Tannehill to finish 10-6.

Critics will say that the Dolphins only beat one winning team on their way to the playoffs(Pittsburgh). The fact is you play the games in front of you. The 1-4 start hurts that is undeniable. That said the six game winning streak should not be discounted no matter who it came against.

Six games that started with the dismantling of Sundays opponent the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-15. They followed that with a game against the Buffalo Bills who were coming off a four game winning streak. A Bills team that the Dolphins had struggled against in recent years. Some of the wins were impressive in others they simply survived. At the end of the day how you win is less important than the final score.

And so here we are in playoffs once again and Espn’s Football Power Index says that Miami has a 1% chance, one percent. Actually that is not true. That is a lie, a fabrication. They give the Dolphins a .2% chance of reaching the Super Bowl.

They have written them off so much so that several times this week when talking about the playoff teams they leave the Dolphins out of the conversation entirely. Earlier this week ESPN could not even be bothered to create a graphic for the team when talking about teams chances in the AFC.

Respect has to be earned. You would think with all that the Dolphins have overcome they would get just a little respect. Apparently there is yet another hurdle for this team to clear. And if they win today the media will surely write them off again.

1%.

I think I will take this one percent over the other 99.

#FinsUp

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SportsGeek

Miami Dolphins: Early, Early 7-round Mock Draft

In one short week the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos will face each other in the Super Bowl. For the other thirty teams of the NFL thoughts have already shifted to the upcoming NFL Draft.

After a season of college football games followed by Bowl games and ultimately the National Championship game college prospects hoping for a career in the NFL often participate in the post season all-star games. Namely the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl. It is the last chance for these players to show their wares against live competition. Next up will be the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

I like to take a look at these players before the facts and figures come in from the Combine. Think of it as something of a rough draft. Just kind of a taste of players that I already like before some workout warrior wows all of us.

So here goes. Eight picks over seven rounds…starting now

1. Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

Even if Brent Grimes returns next season(nothing is guaranteed) the Dolphins desperately need a solid corner on the other side. With impressive body control and great play recognition Hargreaves could easily be penciled in for the next decade. He is an impressive playmaker who does not shy away from defending the run.

2. Nick Martin, G, Notre Dame

If the name seems familiar it is because Nick Martin’s older brother is Zack Martin the two-time pro bowl guard for the Dallas Cowboys. I am not claiming that he will be as good as his brother but he should be a solid guard for the Dolphins. Something they have needed for several years now.

3. Scooby Wright, ILB, Arizona

Beyond belonging on the all-name team Scooby is a former Bednarik Award winner-given to the nations best linebacker. At 6’0 and 246 lbs he has good size which is complimented by excellent instincts and good athleticism. While he is coming off an injury plagued season(torn meniscus) he finished the season strong in the New Mexico Bowl with 11 solo tackles and two sacks.

4. Sean Davis, FS, Maryland

Strong safety Reshad Jones made his first appearance in the Pro Bowl this weekend. That does not mean that help is not needed on the other side. Davis provides length and athleticism while being an aggressive run defender.

5.  Anthony Zettel, DE/DT, Penn State

Zettel first jumped off the screen for me two years ago as a distruptive defensive tackle. This year he slid outside to end. And did not lose a step. The position flexibility reminds me of former Dolphin Jared Odrick. But Zettel is far more athletic than Odrick ever was and the need may be there depending on what happens with ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon.

6. Joe Schobert, OLB, Wisconsin

Yes this draft is heavy on defense and after the performance last year I think that is necessary. Schobert showed special teams ability in the Senior Bowl and he has the ability to play on the outside.

7a. Michael Caputo, SS, Wisconsin

Known primarily as a run stopper Caputo showed range and playmaking ability in the East-West Shrine Bowl coming down with two interceptions. He could not ask for someone better to learn from that Reshad Jones.

7b. Glenn Gronkowski, FB/TE, Kansas State

The Dolphins have not used a fullback recently,  however new coach Adam Gase has been know to use one. Gronkowski(youngest brother of Rob) has shown ability at fullback, tight end and H-back. During the Senior Bowl he caught the ball with ease. That position flexibility may help Glenn to stick on the 53.

This is just an early snapshot at what they may do come the draft. Things should start coming into focus over the next couple of months.

 

 

 

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SportsGeek

Beat the Bully

Sometimes you get pushed around.

Some teams simply push you up and down the field. They dominate you from the word go. They absolutely control the line of scrimmage, the control the entire game.

The Buffalo Bills. The New York Jets. The Baltimore Ravens. Each of them has bullied the Miami Dolphins over the last few years.

It is not even about wins and losses. It is the way it happens. Every team will suffer losses. Even worse is when you are bullied.

When a team bullies you it goes beyond Xs-and-Os, it goes beyond the physical. It gets in your head. It is so hard to work through this kind of domination.

Last Sunday the Dolphins faced one of these ‘bully teams’, the Ravens.

How dominant had the Ravens been?

The last time the Dolphins beat the Raven was 2007 in a game and a play which saved them from finishing the season winless.

The games were not blowouts but they were losses. There was absolutely a big monkey set squarely on those Dolphins teams backs.

Last Sunday could easily have gone that way. Baltimore controlled the ball for over 38 minutes of the game. Rolling up 375 yards and 22 first downs against the Dolphins defense, compared with 219 yards and only 8 first downs.

The Dolphins only ran 46 plays compared with 75 by the Ravens. Any other time you would say the Ravens dominated…until you looked at the scoreboard. Somehow the Dolphins won 15-13.

The defense made just enough stops: holding on a fourth-and-1 at their own one, Jordan Phillips batting a pass into the air for Reshad Jones to intercept.

The offense did just enough. The running game kept them in the game despite a fumble on a long run by Lamar Miller. And Ryan Tannehill having one of his worst game, a game where he wildly missed on at least two passes, managed to hit rookie Devante Parker for a 38-yd touchdown.

They did what they needed to. They made just enough plays. They beat the bully.

Truthfully the win is all that matters.

 

 

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SportsGeek

Pick Up the Helmet

The Miami Dolphins started the season 1-3. The fans, rightfully so, wanted blood. They were offered a sacrifice.

Head coach Joe Philbin and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle were fired last week.

Only problem is that when you feed the beast it just wants more.

Now with the coaches fans wanted gone shown the door many fans have turned on the players. First man up is quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Fans are frustrated understandably, however their anger may be misdirected. Yes Tannehill could play better, so could 52 other players on the roster.

In fact unless your name is Reshad Jones or Jarvis Landry as a player you should be taking a hard look at yourself. It is not one player making mistakes causing problems, it is all over the place.

Sometimes it is the defensive line, other times a tackle whiffs on a block letting the quarterback get killed. Receivers dropping passes, players getting ill-timed penalties, backs hitting the wrong hole. The team has been stuck in the one step forward-two steps back rut all season long.

There is no easy fix. Players need to win the battle in front of them. If they cannot play for the name on the front of the jersey, fight for the name on the back. Show some pride.

They have had those helmets knocked off their heads thus far this season.

Time to pick up the helmet and go to work.

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