Posts Tagged ‘Davone Bess’

Live Chat with Sean Smith Highlights

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

On Friday, the Miami Dolphins hosted a live chat with cornerback Sean Smith — the second call of the offseason exclusively for the fan websites invited by the team to attend the annual Web Weekend.

Smith, the 61st overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, has started 40 of the 47 games games he’s played during his three seasons in Miami, coming up with three interceptions. Last season, No. 24 tied for second on the team with a career-high two picks and registered 51 tackles. Make sure to follow Smith on Twitter: @SeanSMITH24.

Over the course of the 10-minute call, the 6-foot-3 CB discussed the impact of new defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle on the secondary, his new role as a mentor and leader, and, like Richie Incognito last week, told DolfansNYC that he takes great pride in seeing fans clad in aqua-and-orange in New York New Jersey and other opposing stadiums.

“It means a lot, because we definitely appreciate the fan support,” said Smith. “Whenever you’re on the road, you’re always the villain — you’re getting booed no matter what you do — so it’s always good to have that one section you can look up to (where) you get the fans screaming in aqua-and-orange.

“When you can only hear your crowd at their place, you know you’re doing something right.”

With long-time veteran Yeremiah Bell no longer on the team, Smith told us he has taken on the role of mentor to not only the younger players, but some of his more-established teammates.

“I’m always trying to pull guys to the side, whether it (is) the young guys, or the older guys like Vontae (Davis) and Richard Marshall,” he said. “We’re always out there trying to help each other get better.”

Smith explained that he doesn’t just want to give himself the title of being the leader of the secondary, but rather earn it on the field.

“I just go out there and do my job the best way I can and try to show the guys the right way to do things,” he said.

Smith also touched on numerous key topics, including his offseason routine, his expectations for the up-and-coming Phins wide receivers, and adjustments to the new defensive scheme.
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Brian Hartline Holds Call with Dolphins Season Ticket Holders

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Miami Dolphins fourth-year wide receiver Brian Hartline, as well as CEO Mike Dee, held a conference call with the team’s season ticket holders tonight, and DolfansNYC had the chance to listen in on their thoughts and expectations with the 2012 season on the horizon.

Over the course of his career, Hartline has caught 109 passes for 1,670 yards and five touchdown passes in 44 games (23 starts). The Ohio State product’s 15.32 yards per catch ranks 15th among all WRs with at least 100 receptions over the last three seasons, ahead of Miles Austin, Hakeem Nicks and Andre Johnson.

During the 40-minute call, Hartline discussed a wide array of topics, including the unique way in which he mastered tip-toeing the NFL sidelines and which Dolphin he’d pick in the first round of a fantasy football draft.

*No. 82, who recently underwent an appendectomy, stopped short of calling himself 100 percent ready to go, but said his rehab from the surgery has gone well.

“I’m feeling pretty good. I think 100 percent is  kind of a lost thing at this stage,” he said. “(I’m) healthy from all of the offseason fun. Life just happens sometimes.”

*Hartline expressed confidence in the team’s coaching staff, including offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, and explained the West Coast offense relies on quarterbacks and wide receivers being on the same page.

“There’s a lot going on — there’s a lot on the table for the quarterbacks, like usual,” he said. “I think our job is really to try and make it easier for the quarterbacks. Timing is big. They’ve got enough going on — they expect us to be in certain spots at a certain time.”

*Asked about his daily routine, Hartline said he typically works out in the morning, keeps his mind focused on improving and tries to eat healthy “from time to time.”

“I”m pretty much a normal guy,” he said. “(I’m) just tying not to be normal on Sundays.”

*Hartline reiterated several times that he anticipates carrying a large role on offense and being used all over the field, and revealed his personal goals are to be a veteran leader on a young team and to hit a major milestone.

“Most of my personal goals revolve around the team,” he said. “I firmly believe that if you win football games, you play at a high level, the rest of it takes care of itself.

“With that being said, I want to be a 1,000 yard receiver — that’s my goal.”

*Hartline believes that other teams with rookie quarterbacks are not as fortunate as the Dolphins, who have two talented veterans capable of carrying the load until Ryan Tannehill is ready, but confirmed that if the eighth overall pick shines in training camp, it won’t be long until he is named the starter.

“You’re going to play the best guy, and if (Tannehill) really does separate himself and he’s the best guy, then he’s going to play the game,” he said.

*Hartline said the coaches have a very difficult decision to make on the Week 1 starter, which he expects to come towards the end of training camp in order to give the players a chance to work on their timing and communication.

*Hartline acknowledged that while the NFL is a team sport, he has taken some of the criticism the Dolphins WRs have faced in the media on a personal level, and believes the underrated corps will change the negative perception.

“I know what I think of our guys, and I’m impressed with where we’ve come to where we’re at now,” he said. “Definitely, I feel like this  is the best overall group we’ve had.

“I’m not living under a rock and I understand people like the flashy names and numbers, but I think there’s more involved to that than just personnel. Our room is ready and excited.”

*Hartline said that Chad Ochocinco Johnson brings knowledge, experience and familiarity with a lot of defenses, and will help the young receivers react to different schemes.

*When he was asked which player, other than himself, he would choose in the first round of a fantasy football league, Hartline jokingly (I think) asked if Jake Long produces a lot of points, before saying Charles Clay, Anthony Fasano and Davone Bess would be his picks and that Reggie Bush “will be very important with catching the ball out of the backfield.”

*Hartline said the two players who have the most break-out potential are fellow WRs Julius Pruitt and Roberto Wallace.

*Hartline declined to reveal whether he would be one of the main subjects on the “Hard Knocks” cameras, but said he is “excited to see what it’s going to be like.”

*One of Hartline’s most interesting answers came when he was asked about how he learned to tip-toe the sidelines and make his patented spectacular down-the-field catches.
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Miami Dolphins Sign Chad Ochocinco

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Chad Ochocinco is the newest member of the Miami Dolphins.The Miami Dolphins agreed to a one-year contract with six-time Pro Bowler and two-time First Team All-Pro wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, after the former Cincinnati Bengals star and New England Patriots washout worked out for the team on Monday morning. Naturally, Ochocinco’s own news organization, OCNN, first broke the story.

Ochocinco, a one-time standout at Miami Beach High, certainly bolsters a receiver corps led by Brian Hartline, Davone Bess, Legedu Naanee and Clyde Gates, along with a host of even less proven players. Although at this stage in his career, the 34-year-old can’t even come close to replicating Brandon Marshall’s production, he is only two years removed from racking up over 1,000 yards and nine scores with the Bengals, and ranks fifth in receptions (766) and receiving yards (11,059) and sixth in touchdown catches (67) among all active players.

Still, Ochocinco comes to Miami with far more questions than answers, starting with whether he has anything left in the tank after his worst NFL season, in which he caught just 15 passes for 276 yards and one touchdown in 15 games with the Patriots.

A player who’s infamous for his off-the-field baggage, Ochocinco could also prove to be an unwelcome distraction for a rebuilding franchise grooming a rookie quarterback and hoping for a breakout year from one of its up-and-coming pass-catchers. The signing also raises questions about head coach Joe Philbin’s confidence in his receivers, after he had previously praised the young group’s collective talent and downplayed the possibility of bringing a high-profile player into camp.

Perhaps the biggest and most important question is how Ochocinco will fit into the newly-installed, complex West Coast offense. Last season, he struggled to pick up the Patriots’ playbook and couldn’t remember his routes en route to being declared inactive for the AFC Championship Game and ultimately released.

In the end, it’s a low-risk move by the Dolphins, who won’t find a more experienced and talented wideout on the market. In the best-case scenario, Ochocinco, hoping to resurrect his career and prove he still belongs in the league after flaming out in New England, could end up helping the team take a step in the right direction by providing veteran leadership.

At the very least, it will present an interesting storyline on “Hard Knocks,” on which Ochocinco starred three years ago (yes, of course he did).

Partying with Tracy Morgan and the Dolphins

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Barely 72 hours later, it still feels surreal.

Michelle and I, along with a couple of our friends, had the opportunity to go to a Tracy Morgan charity comedy show in Miami, which was presented by Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano to benefit Veteran’s Housing. Thanks to the event organizers, Lunar Sports Group, we had invites to the pre-show VIP party, backstage passes and tickets to the after-party at the Shore Club.

We were informed beforehand that several of Fasano’s teammates could come out for the show, and sure enough, Reggie Bush, Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, Jared Odrick, Clyde Gates, Steve Slaton, and ex-Dolphin Lousaka Polite were among a dozen or so players in attendance. Michelle and I volunteered to check-in the VIP guests, meaning we had to put tiny orange bands around the massive wrists of professional football stars and the tiny wrists of their supermodel girlfriends. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.

 

I made sure to tell Polite that he remains one of our all-time favorite players and that we miss chanting “Louuu!” whenever he’d get a first down.  He thanked me and said that he’s continuing to work out, waiting to “get the call.”

Once the pre-show party concluded, the players and VIP guests were ushered down the hall, where Morgan came out to welcome everyone to the show. Well, he didn’t so much welcome them, as much as launch into an impromptu stand-up act, explaining that he’s the sole reason why both the NFL and NBA lockouts had ended. That’s probably the one part that I can repeat with a straight face, much less reprint here.   Let’s just say the majority of his topics had a lot to do with bodily functions and bedroom acts most people would probably never want to try. Morgan walked up and down the hall, cracking everyone up with his unique sense of humor, driving home the point that absolutely nothing and no one was off limits (more on that shortly).

Before he went back to his dressing room, I made sure to shake his hand and tell him how much I enjoy his work, figuring it would be my one chance to speak to him.

The Dolphins walked to another section of the theater to pick up food and beverages before the main act, where MiamiDolphins.com beat writer Andy Kent introduced us to Bess, Michelle’s favorite player. Bess was extremely nice and personable, openly talking about Miami’s heartbreaking last-second loss on Thanksgiving, and taking the time out to pose for pictures. Michelle was star-struck and giggling in delight after Bess walked away – pretty much exactly how I’d react if I ever talked to Candace Parker.

 

As for Morgan’s actual stand-up, he began the routine by pulling no punches about Bush’s relationship with Kim Kardashian and her E! reality show, and continued to spew (heh) unfiltered raunchiness and crudeness for the next hour-and-a-half. I don’t think there’s a person on earth who can get away with anything he said or make such absurd topics so hilarious. My face actually hurt from laughing so much.
Soon afterwards, we walked several blocks to the Shore Club, where none other than Tracy Morgan and a few of his friends sat on a bench outside, with no bodyguards or bouncers in sight. When he saw us, he dove right back into his comedy act, telling us a few jokes he forgot to say during the show.

At one point, he said (I’m paraphrasing for language, clearly) that men can’t live with or without women.  Michelle laughed and told him I was learning all about that.

“Nah, he’s a good boy,” said Morgan. “He’s domestically trained, like me. He knows not to pee inside the house.” I can’t argue with this.

He then asked us if we were coming inside (as if we’d miss it for anything), at which point one of his friends told Morgan that I look like Jesus.

“He’s got the long hair, the beard – all he’s missing is the sandals,” he said.

Morgan took it a step further, declaring that I actually look like Moses’ mother. I still have no idea what to make of that, but it was fantastic. He then asked me if I’d seen the original Planet of the Apes, and for whatever reason, I told him I hadn’t. It didn’t matter – he went right into a Charlton Heston impression from some movie none of us knew; regardless, we laughed hysterically.

Inside the club, I spotted one of the comedians who opened for Morgan and had to get a picture with him, obviously because of that amazing mustache. Somewhat disappointingly, his act barely mentions the sweet ‘stache, with just one quick line about Super Mario being on stage.

We hung  around in the back for a while, where some of the guests played pool and hit on scantily-clad women, and went home around one thirty in the morning. After spending some time with him, I can safely say that Morgan basically plays himself in 30 Rock (within the confines of network television, of course) – an outrageous and unpredictable character who’s always on and lives for making others around him laugh.

Needless to say, it was an unforgettable experience with the hands-down funniest person I’d ever met.

Dolphins Look to Continue Thanksgiving Day Dominance

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

For most Dolphins (and Cowboys) fans, a Dallas-Miami Thanksgiving match-up conjures up images of Leon Lett’s infamous blunder in 1993. Down one point with 15 seconds left on the clock, Dolphins kicker Pete Stoyanovich lined up for a 40-yard field goal to win the game, but slipped on the ice and had his kick blocked by Dallas defensive tackle Jimmie Jones. As the Cowboys players and coaches began to celebrate, Lett inexplicably attempted to fall on the rolling football, only to lose control of it as he slipped on the ice. Miami recovered the ball on the Dallas one-yard line, and Stoyanovich nailed a short field-goal as time expired to give Miami an improbable 16-14 victory.

18 years later, the video remains just as, if not more hilariously fun to watch.

The 1993 Snow Bowl is one of four Fins-Cowboys Thanksgiving games – Miami has won two of the other three contests on the holiday and leads the all-time series 7-5.

November 22, 1973 – Dolphins 14, Cowboys 7

The Dolphins jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on a Larry Csonka one-yard run and a 45-yard touchdown strike from Bob Griese to Paul Warfield. Griese threw only 10 passes all game, as Csonka rushed for 80 yards and Mercury Morris chipped in with 49 to lead the Miami ground attack.

November 25, 1999 – Cowboys 20, Dolphins 0

This is one that the Dolphins, and especially Dan Marino, would like to forget. After a scoreless first half, the Cowboys took a 7-0 lead when Dexter Coakley returned a Marino interception 46 yards for the score. Troy Aikman later connected with Rocket Ismail for a 65-yard touchdown, and Emmitt Smith finished with 103 rushing yards. Marino completed only 15-of-36 passes for 178 yards and tied a career-high with five picks (good for a 17.8 quarterback rating). He was pulled late in the fourth quarter for backup Damon Huard. Let’s move on.

Jay Fiedler scores against the Cowboys.Novemeber 27, 2003 – Dolphins 40, Cowboys 21

That’s better. The last time these two teams met on Thanksgiving, the 8-3 Cowboys, led by QB Quincy Carter, never stood much of a chance. Miami took a quick lead on a Jay Fiedler one-yard scramble, and wide receiver Chris Chambers would go on to catch a career-best three TD passes. The Dolphins picked off Carter three times, and Jason Taylor returned a fumble for another score.

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DolfansNYC Podcast, Episode 5: Tony Sparano

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Last week, DolfansNYC attended Web Weekend, an annual event hosted by the Miami Dolphins for the team’s top fan websites. Prior to Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans, Coach Tony Sparano addressed the crowd and spoke about a number of key topics, after which we he took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for our podcast.

Below are the main portions from the group Q&A, followed by our exclusive one-on-one interview with Coach Sparano, in which he talks about his football playing career, the decision behind hiring offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, and his thoughts on New York and DolfansNYC.

On under-the-radar players to watch for:

I think a guy that you should watch out for, predicated on what I’ve seen throughout training camp – and I don’t like singling any players out, as I’m sure you guys know – I’ll tell you that Reshad Jones is a guy I would watch.   This guy had 13 tackles (against the Patriots), and has had a really good training camp, has really good range and ball skills back there.  I think he’s a guy that could have a really good year as a young player for us.

I’m hoping that Jared Odrick will continue to get better.  He needs to play, and he obviously hasn’t played in a long time.  So, Jared would be a guy that I would say the same thing about.  And then maybe a young guy like Daniel Thomas.

On the roster decision-making process:

The first thing we identify, is where the need is – obviously, just because there’s a player out there, he might not satisfy our needs at that particular time.  There were a lot of good players out there when free agency hit at the end of the lockout, but we had a particular plan in mind, knowing what we had coming back and knowing maybe a little bit about what we needed.

This year, business was done a little bit differently, only because the draft was done before free agency.  So, in the draft, we got to fill some needs like Clyde Gates, in getting speed, or Mike Pouncey, in finding a center, and Daniel Thomas, in finding a (running) back.  At that point, it became, “okay, we’ve got Daniel Thomas – what’s the next piece?  Well, there’s this Reggie Bush that might be out there.”  That was a scenario there where (it was) a hunch on our part, only because Reggie had made a lot of money where he was, (and could have been) a cap casualty.  And we had all of those things – our scouting department has a list of players that we think are going to be released, a list of players that are free agents, and potential cap casualties.  And this was a scenario where we were able to get a good player in that situation and bring him to our team.

But the way the process works, is identifying the problem first, then Jeff (Ireland) and I will sit down and go over the possibilities.  We’ll have what we call a “short list,” a list of players in that area, that we’ll start putting together, we’ll go through, and if we feel like there’s a chance that we can strike a deal with somebody there that might be a good deal for us, then we’ll push towards that.  So, it’s mutual, both of us together, but most of the time, it’s about me bringing a need first.

On his thoughts about bringing back the Wildcat:

No, no real thoughts about the Wildcats right now.

The reason the Wildcat originated, was that at that particular time, we didn’t have the personnel that we have on our football team right now.  You look at Brandon Marshall, and Davone Bess, and Brian Hartline, and Clyde Gates, and Reggie Bush, and (Anthony) Fasano, and these types of people that you can get the football to – we didn’t have that necessarily; we had Ronnie (Brown) and Ricky (Williams) at the time.  So, (with) Ronnie and Ricky, how can we get them on the same field at the same time and maybe get the ball in their hands enough times?  That was kind of the reason why we went with something like that.  I don’t know that the Wildcat is something that we’re really too interested at this time.

(After audience applauds) You weren’t clapping way back when – it was genius at that point.

On the biggest difference in Chad Henne this season:

I would say that the biggest difference isn’t necessarily in Chad – the difference is in how the team perceives Chad.  Chad is the same Chad that I know from the previous years.  The difference is, if the lockout was good for anything from my end, as a football coach, the lockout was good because Chad had to be out there running these workouts on his own.  He had the keys to the closet and he was the only guy that really knew about the offense, contrary to popular belief out there.  The players needed him – they had to come to him for the answers.  So, in these player-only workouts that took place out there, Chad had all the answers for them, so obviously he got them lined up, he organized the practices, he did everything from that standpoint.  So now, when Chad says something, it isn’t, “well, let me go find somebody else to get the answer,” it’s, “I got it, Chad.”  At the quarterback position, he drives the bus, and at the end of this thing, it really sets on his shoulders.  So he needs to have that respect, and I think that Chad clearly has the respect right now.

DolfansNYC Podcast with Coach Tony Sparano:

[buzzsprout episode=”32100″ player=”true”]

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Music Credit: Solo D, “DolfansNYC Anthem”

Coach Sparano, in which he talks about his football playing career, the decision behind hiring offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, and this thoughts on New York and DolfansNYC.

Dolphins Preseason News and Notes

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

More often than not, preseason statistics are completely meaningless. Coaches rarely reveal their game-plans, test out new and sometimes faulty plays, and most importantly, give rookies and fringe players a chance to solidify their roles or make the final roster. It’s no surprise then, that through two games, the NFL passing, rushing and receiving yards leaders are Stephen McGee, Stevan Ridley and Chastin West, respectively, while Michael Vick has thrown three interceptions en route to posting a 50.7 QB rating.

With that in mind, the Miami Dolphins have yet to officially name a starting quarterback, have two new running backs to integrate into the offense, and no less than three players vying for the fifth and likely final wide receiver spot.  Let’s take a look at how the position battles have gone so far.

QB Comp Atts Pct Yds Y/G TDs INT Long 20+ Sck Rate
Chad Henne 19 32 59.4 271 135.5 1 2 44T 4 0 71.2
Matt Moore 17 28 60.7 196 98.0 2 1 28T 3 1 90.8
Pat Devlin 0 2 0.0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 2 39.6
  • After a poor preseason opener (4-of-8 passing for 77 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions) against the Atlanta Falcons, Chad Henne looked better against the Carolina Panthers (who doesn’t?) in the second contest, completing 15-of-24 passes for 194 yards with no turnovers. His biggest problem so far has come with the deep ball, as he has continued to miss open receivers downfield.
  • Even though Matt Moore outplayed Henne in the opener (11-of-18 passing for 123 yards and two TDs)  and has posted a higher QB rating two games, Coach Tony Sparano has so far made it clear there is no competition for the starting quarterback job. Moore hasn’t played with the first-team offense in the preseason at all, indicating he will enter the season as the primary backup, barring a couple of disastrous outings from Henne.
  • The battle for the third quarterback spot is shaping up to be epic:  Pat Devlin is 0-of-2 with two sacks in clean-up duty, while Kevin O’Connell has more kneel-downs (two) than pass attempts (0).
RB Att Rsh Yd Avg Y/G TD Lng Rec Rec Yd Lng Fum
Reggie Bush 8 48 6.0 48.0 0 17 2 33 17 0
Daniel Thomas 16 57 3.6 28.5 1 10 1 25 25 0
Kory Sheets 17 43 2.5 21.5 0 8 2 5 3 0
Lex Hilliard 8 28 3.5 14.0 1 8 0 0 0 0
Nic Grigsby 10 21 2.1 10.5 0 8 0 0 0 0
  • Playing one half, Reggie Bush had eight carries for 48 yards and caught two passes for 33 yards in his Dolphins debut on Friday. Early reports indicated the coaching staff planned to give Bush, who averaged only nine touches per game over the last two years with the New Orleans Saints, a heavy workload on offense without using him as a punt returner, and so far, the RB looked quicker and more exciting than any RB the Dolphins have had in years.
  • Daniel Thomas has sported an unimpressive 3.6 yards per carry average, busting out just one run of 10 yards.  Expected to be a power-back capable of breaking tackles and moving the pile, he couldn’t get into the endzone on two carries inside the five-yard line early against the Panthers (Lex Hilliard scored on the next play).  Thomas did have a four-yard TD run in the second quarter, and while he’ll need time to get used to the NFL, his workload should increase as the season progresses.
  • Hilliard all but solidified his hold on the number three RB job after scoring at the goal line, while Kory Sheets managed only 43 yards on a team-high 17 carries against second-stringers.
  • The Dolphins released Sheets on Tuesday and unexpectedly signed veteran Larry Johnson, who hasn’t played a down in the NFL since Week 2 of last season with the Washington Redskins. Johnson had five carries for two yards in 2010 and a terrible 3.2 YPC in 2009; at age 31, he makes little sense for Miami.
  • Undrafted rookie Nic Grigsby hasn’t done much (2.1 YPC) to suggest he’s in the team’s immediate future.

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Will Miami Regret Passing on Randy Moss?

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Randy Moss is going to the Tennessee Titans, who claimed the enigmatic wide receiver off waivers from the Minnesota Vikings.  Since waiver priority is determined by the inverse order of the current standings, the 4-3 Miami Dolphins would have acquired Moss had they decided to put in a claim.  Did the team make a big mistake by passing up the chance to feature two 2009 Pro Bowlers in a revamped vertical game?

Tmoss-frohere were plenty of reasons for Miami to pass on Moss, who can be the best player on the field if he’s motivated, and a head-case who doesn’t respect his teammates or coaches and carries far more baggage than he’s worth if he’s disinterested. 

Despite playing for Bill Belichick, one of very few coaches who has earned Moss’s admiration, the wide receiver still found a ticket out of New England after questioning his role in the offense and getting into a spat about Tom Brady’s hair (I don’t actually think that last part is true, but it’s hilarious nonetheless). 

Through his career, Moss has been repeatedly chastised for his lack of effort, failure to finish routes and make blocks, and an alarming attitude in the locker room that largely contributed to his release from Minnesota.

But hate him or love him, Moss is one of the most talented WRs in NFL history, and players of his caliber are hardly ever so readily available.  He’s two and a half years removed from a season in which he recorded nearly 1,500 receiving yards and caught an NFL-record 23 touchdown passes.   For his career, he ranks second in league history in TDs (153), fourth in receiving yards per game (76.6), fifth in total receiving yards (14,778), and eight in catches (948).  Those skills didn’t suddenly diminish overnight.

Perhaps the Miami coaches didn’t think they could keep him happy in a run-first offense, or didn’t want to deal with the distractions and media circus that surrounds the outspoken and constantly unhappy Moss.  But his off-putting personality aside, the Dolphins sure could’ve used him on the field.

The team ranks 25th in the league in passing plays of over 20 yards (17) with an anemic average of 6.7 yards per pass attempt.  Miami hasn’t had a true deep threat (at least one who can catch the ball) in years, and Moss would’ve commanded double-teams and opened the field for Brandon Marshall — who publicly lobbied for the acquisition — and slot receiver Davone Bess.

It would’ve been a relatively low-risk and low-cost gamble for the Dolphins, since Moss is owed $3.388 million for the remainder of the season, the final year of his contract.  Even he has to realize that at this point, no team would hesitate to cut him if he continues to exhibit an oversized ego and a poor attitude, and that he could find himself out of a job in the offseason if he burns yet another bridge.  

The Dolphins could’ve gotten a playmaker whose talents could’ve single-handedly brought the division title back to South Beach.  Instead, they’ll have to settle for seeing Moss catch passes only once this year, when the visiting Titans come to Miami on November 14.

Return of the Mack: Dolphins Sign Clifton Smith

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Hate him or love him, the Dolphins were going to miss Ted Ginn Jr.’s speed and playmaking ability on special teams (not so much in the receiving game).  Sure, he’d run out of bounds and try to avoid contact, but he also ranked fifth in kick return yards (1,296) and 14th kickoff return average (24.92) in the NFL last season.

In comes KR/PR Clifton “Batman” Smith, who could end up rivalring Brandon Marshall as the team’s most impactful and game-changing addition of the offseason.  After being waived by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday, the return specialist chose to sign with Miami after also working out for the Green Bay Packers.

The 25-year-old was initially signed to the Bucs’ practice squad as an undrafted free agent in 2008, and went on to be selected to the Pro Bowl after ranking second in the NFL in punt return average (14.1) and sixth in kickoff return average (27.6).  Despite appearing in only nine games, he finished sixth in total punt return yards and (324), and scored on a 97-yard kickoff return and a 70-yard punt return.  Smith went on to improve his yards per kickoff to 29.1 (second in the league) in 2009, and his career average of 28.3 tops all active players and is the fifth-highest in NFL history.

Smith will likely take over primary punt-return duties from Davone Bess, who’s quietly been one of the worst at the position in the NFL.  Over the last two seasons, Bess has returned 49 punts, the 11th-highest total in the league, but his 8.98 yards per return rank 25th out of 35 qualified players.  Smith’s 12.09 average, on the other hand, is second behind only the New York Giants’ Dominik Hixon (12.15).

In even better news, Patrick Cobbs, who’s coming back from knee surgery, will now be relieved from handling kickoffs.  Since entering the league in 2007, he’s posted the second-lowest kickoff return average (20.48) among 72 players with at least 25 returns.  Fifth-round pick Nolan Carroll was also in contention for the job, but didn’t fare much better during the preseason by averaging 22.8 yards on nine returns.

Of course, Pro Bowl-caliber players in their prime don’t get released for no reason.  For all of his special teams contributions, Smith is virtually non-existent on offense, rushing four times for just seven yards last year.  There are legitimate concerns about his durability after a pair of concussions limited the 5-foot-8, 190-pound dynamo to 11 games in 2009 and lingering knee pain forced him to miss two 2010 preseason games.  He’s has also been extremely fumble-prone, losing the ball a whopping seven times (tied with Bess and Ginn, among others, for ninth among non-quarterbacks over the last two years) in only 20 games.

Despite the concerns, there’s no question that Smith is one of the best return specialists in the game and presents a significant upgrade for the Dolphins.  Barring injuries, he’s not likely to receive a lot of carries as the team’s fifth RB, but running behind a better offensive line in Miami should allow him to be a bigger factor on those rare occasions.

Smith will get his first test against the Buffalo Bills, who were held opponents to 21.5 yards per kickoff return (7th-best in the NFL) and 7.7 yards on punt returns (11th), on Sunday.

Phins Fantasy Football: QBs and WRs

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

With the NFL season right around the corner, and fantasy football drafts already in full-swing, it’s time to take a look at what to expect from the Miami Dolphins’ skill players in 2010.  Today, we’ll cover the quarterbacks and wide receivers, with running backs, tight ends, and the defense to be posted in the coming weeks.

Sorry, Chad!
Sorry, Penny!

Chad Henne, QB - All things considered, Henne had a solid 2009 after being thrown into the fire following Chad Pennington’s shoulder injury in Week 3.  (As a sidenote, I still feel responsible for causing that to happen, because I spontaneously decided to pick up Henne in my fantasy league minutes before that game started).  Henne completed 60.8% of his passes and had 12 TD passes in 14 games despite having one of the weaker WR corps in the league.  He threw for over 300 yards in three of his last five games, and should have no problem continuing that trend with the Dolphins’ acquisition of two-time Pro-Bowler Brandon Marshall.  Considering that Kyle Orton threw for over 3,800 yards and 21 TDs last season with Marshall as his top receiver, Henne could be in line for a spectacular year if he can improve his decision-making (10 INTs in the final six games).  He’s a borderline number-one QB, and has more potential than the likes of Donovan McNabb, Eli Manning, and Matt Ryan, all of whom are all  being drafted ahead of him in ESPN leagues.

2009 Statistics:  2,878 passing yards, 12 TDs, 14 INT
2010 Prediction:  4,161 passing yards, 25 TDs, 13 INT

Chad Pennington / Tyler Thigpen / Pat White, QB – Unless you’re in a 14-team, two-QB league (like me), none of the Dolphins’ backups should be on your radar.  Thigpen is likely to begin the year second on the official depth chart, though it wouldn’t be surprising if Miami turned to the veteran Pennington if Henne were to miss any games.  White, who didn’t complete a single pass last year, is, um, still on the team as of this writing.

Brandon Marshall, WR – Marshall, who set the NFL record with 21 receptions to go along with 200 yards and two TDs in Week 14, will catch more passes by Week 3 than the Dolphins’ previous #19 did all year (38).  The problem is that the volatile WR has been arrested at least four times on charges of assault, domestic violence, and DUI, and was suspended by the Denver Broncos for the final week of 2009 for exaggerating an injury.  Still, Marshall’s talents are undeniable — he’s caught over 100 passes and totaled over 1,100 receiving yards in three straight seasons and has averaged the fourth-most receiving yards per game (80.7) in the NFL since 2007. His off-the-field problems, combined with playing for a new team and a different offense, make him a somewhat risky pick in the second round (currently being drafted 19th overall), but you could talk me into taking Marshall ahead of the aging Randy Moss and the Kurt Warner-less Larry Fitzgerald (especially in Point Per Reception leagues). 

2009 Statistics:  101 catches, 1,120 receiving yards, 10 TDs
2010 Prediction:  107 catches, 1,250 receiving yards, 8 TDs

Predicting Bess' 2010 output can get a little hairy...
Predicting Bess' 2010 output can get a little hairy...

Davone Bess, WR – Bess had a fantastic sophomore campaign, leading the Dolphins in catches (76; 22nd in NFL), receiving yards (758), and punt return yards (209).   His stats are bound to take a serious hit with Marshall firmly entrenched as the top receiver, but Bess should still get his fair share of targets out of the slot.  Bess is a decent fourth WR in PPR leagues with some upside, and at the very least, is a smart insurance policy if Marshall gets in Coach Sparano’s doghouse.

2009 Statistics:  76 catches, 758 receiving yards, 2 TDs
2010 Prediction:  57 catches, 570 receiving yards, 4 TDs

Brian Hartline, WR – Hartline led the Dolphins in TDs (3) and yards per catch (16.3; 11th in NFL) , and finished third on the team in receiving yards (506) as a rookie.  He dropped only three passes in 54 targets,  and could end up being the beneficiary of Marshall’s double-teams if he wins the number two receiver spot in training camp.  Still, with Bess expected to see more targets and Greg Camarillo also in the picture, Hartline is only worth a late-round flier in standard leagues.

2009 Statistics:  31 catches, 506 receiving yards, 3 TDs
2010 Prediction:  43 catches, 660 receiving yards, 3 TDs

Greg Camarillo, WR – Camarillo, who should be fully recovered from a torn ACL he suffered in November 2008, was one of the most sure-handed receivers in the NFL last season, catching the highest number of passes without a drop and a stellar 70% of his total targets.  He quietly placed second on the team in both receptions (50) and receiving yards (552) in 2009, but stands to see a reduced role behind the quicker and younger Hartline in 2010.

2009 Statistics:  50 catches, 552 receiving yards, 0 TDs
2010 Prediction:  38 catches, 414 receiving yards, 1 TDs

Coming soon:  How will Ronnie “The Wildcat” Brown and Ricky Williams share the backfield?

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