Posts Tagged ‘ricky williams’

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:

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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.

Behind Enemy Lines: Dolphins-Texans Preview

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

With the Dolphins facing off against the Houston Texans on Sunday, DolfansNYC collaborated with State of the Texans for an in-depth game preview, focusing on the burning topics for each team. We cover the Texans’ offseason; Wade Phillips, Mario Williams and the much-improved defense; the aftermath of the Fins-Patriots game; the match-up problems Reggie Bush and Cameron Wake pose for Houston; and much more.

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DolfansNYC Interview: Kory Sheets

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Miami Dolphins running back Kory Sheets has an opportunity to step into the spotlight next season. The 5’11” dynamo, who was signed off the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad in October 2009, was expected to serve as Miami’s primary kickoff returner before a torn Achilles’ tendon suffered in training camp cost him the entire 2010 campaign. With both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams no longer expected to return to South Florida, Sheets is ready to compete with the team’s second-round pick, Daniel Thomas, for the starting tailback job.

Kory was kind enough to take time out of his offseason training schedule to talk about his rehabilitation process, his goals for the 2011 season, and his gameday routines.

Dolphins RB/KR Kory Sheets1. You missed the entire 2010 season with a torn ACL. What did the rehab process entail and are you now fully recovered?

The rehab process was long and difficult. At one point, around December, I hit a wall, and I wasn’t progressing (anymore) – it wasn’t getting worse, it wasn’t getting better. With my workout that I was doing, I needed to make my calf muscles bigger and stronger, so once I was able to do that, to make that stronger, I felt more production. From there, it just kind of took off, and started healing. As of right now, I’m 100% – there’s no pain, I got my strength back, and I’m running at full speed.

2. What have you been doing during the offseason, with no contact permitted with team officials?

A bunch of us are working out over at Nova (Southeastern University) – we had been going every day until the lockout (temporarily) ended. Right now, I’m just taking a break and a week off, maybe two. I think I’ll probably get back at it around the end of the Fourth of July (weekend).

3. Has anyone on the Dolphins served as a mentor or role model for you?

I wouldn’t say a role model, but a few guys talked with me, asked me what I wanted to do, and helped me study and just become a better pro. Lousaka Polite sat down with me on multiple occasions, helped me watch film, and showed me things that I needed to work on in my own game, how to read off of him and block.

4. Last season, you were expected to be the primary kick returner. Is that something you plan on doing in 2011?

Depending on whatever happens with Ronnie and Ricky – if they don’t come back, then my main focus is going to be (being) the starting tailback.

5. If Ricky and Ronnie don’t return, as expected, is the plan for you to pair up with rookie Daniel Thomas in the backfield?

Yes, that’s the (team’s) plan, but my main focus is to going to be the main guy. If there’s something else they want me to do, I’ll gladly do it with no problem.

6. What do you feel you bring to the team when you step out on the field?

Speed – in the NFL, most guys are fast, and just watching it all last season, (there’s) a lot of warp speed out there. I think I’ll help bring a lot of speed to the offense.

7. Would you say that you’re the fastest player in the NFL?

Oh, no. (laughs)

8. Where would you rank?

I don’t even know, because there are a lot of guys out there that are fast. There (are) a lot of 4.2 (40-yard dash time) guys coming into the league.

9. Is there a current player in the NFL who you feel most closely resembles your skill-set?

I’ve been compared to Reggie Bush coming out of college. I don’t feel that I play like him – we have similar things that we can do, but I honestly don’t know who (I played like). I’d (have to) sit here and think about it.

10. Which teams and players did you follow growing up, and which players did you most admire strive to be like?

I followed the 49ers growing up. And players, I watched Barry (Sanders), I actually watched Ricky a lot. Who else … that’s pretty much it. I really didn’t watch football too much.

11. Can you take me through a typical gameday? Do you have any pre-game routines or superstitions?

I usually don’t like to eat before a game. I don’t know, growing up, I just never ate – I don’t know if that was (because) I was just nervous or I just didn’t like to eat before a game. In high school I didn’t eat; in college, I wouldn’t eat before the morning of the game. After the game, I’m usually hungry.

12. What music do you listen to before a game?

Usually, it’s whatever is on my iPod – there’s no set list or no person that I like to listen to more. Maybe an hour before the game, I’ll sit in the locker room, and listen to probably some R&B music and just kind of relax.

13. Is there anything you’d like to say to your DolfansNYC fans?

When the lockout is over, we all will be ready to play ball!

Should I Stay or Should I Go

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Now that the New York Jets have been eliminated from the Playoffs and we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief, it’s time to think about what’s next for the Miami Dolphins.   Let’s take a look back at where it all went wrong in 2010 and make some very early predictions for 2011 (presuming we’ll actually have an NFL season). In the coming weeks, I’ll break down key free agents who’d look great in aqua and orange next season.

Anyone who watched even a handful of series doesn’t need to look at advanced metrics to know Miami’s offense was dreadful. The Dolphins, expected to be a dominant run-first team after having the fourth-best rushing offense in 2009, tied for 29th in rushing TDs (8) and 21st in rushing yards (1,643), while also coming in 27th in passing TDs (17) and fourth in interceptions (21). While WRs Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess, and Brian Hartline, as well as TE Anthony Fasano (signed to an extension through 2012), form a solid and dependable aerial attack, the same can’t be said for just about every other member of the offense. So who should and likely will be back in 2011?

Chad Henne, QB

2010 Prediction: 4,161 passing yards, 25 TDs, 13 INT
2010 Statistics: 3,301 passing yards, 15 TDs, 19 INT

It turns out I – as well as everyone who threw away money on a Henne jersey – was wrong about the supposed QB of the future. After showing promise at the end of the 2009 season and having a Pro Bowl WR at his disposal, Henne was expected to take a step forward and improve his decision-making. After throwing three picks in a crushing loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9, Henne was benched in favor of Chad Pennington, and was then once again pulled for Tyler Thigpen in an embarrassing season-ending loss to the Patriots. Over the last 12 games, Henne threw 12 TDs and 18 INTs, and posted a QB Rating under 60.0 in four of his final eight appearances.

While most Dolphins fans never want to see him on the field again, it’s almost a given that Miami will keep the still 25-year-old QB for another year. It’s even possible that he’ll get a chance to compete for a backup spot with a veteran QB – Kyle Orton? Donovan McNabb? Er, Brady Quinn? – in training camp if the team doesn’t draft a QB in the first round of the Draft. Either way, it’s become clear that Henne is not the long-term solution as the Dolphins starter.

2011 Prediction: 1,127 passing yards, 5 TDs, 6 INT

Tyler Thigpen, QB: Thigpen was horrendous in his lone start against the Bears, a 16-0 shutout at home (albeit he was missing half of his offense), and finished the year with 435 passing yards (53.2% completion percentage), two TDs, and two picks. While he has mobility and can make plays out of the pocket, he’s unlikely to receive anything more than a training camp invite from Miami.

2011 Prediction – signs with Tennessee Titans: 1,630 passing yards, 9 TDs, 7 INT

Chad Pennington, QB: I wish Pennington all the best with his return from a fourth shoulder surgery, but considering that he played two snaps in 2010 before getting hurt again, the odds aren’t in his favor. In an ideal world, he’d become the Dolphins’ QB coach, but I have a feeling he’ll go back to where it all started and take Mark Brunell’s clipboard job in New York.

2011 Prediction – signs with New York Jets: 110 passing yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT


Ronnie Brown, RB

2010 Prediction: 893 rushing yards, 135 receiving yards, 7 TDs
2010 Statistics: 734 rushing yards, 242 receiving yards, 5 TDs

On the surface, my prediction looks fairly accurate, since Brown gained only 58 fewer yards from scrimmage and managed to play all 16 games for only the second time in his career. The problem is that Brown averaged a career-low 3.7 yards per attempt, didn’t have a single 100-yard rushing game, and his 45.9 yards per game were the lowest of any player with at least 200 carries. The soon-to-be-30-year-old is an unrestricted free agent who hasn’t been offered a contract by the Dolphins and has probably already cleaned out his locker

2011 Prediction – signs with Cincinnati Bengals: 697 rushing yards, 213 receiving yards, 4 TDs

Ricky Williams, RB

2010 Prediction: 906 rushing yards, 211 receiving yards, 9 TDs
2010 Statistics: 673 rushing yards, 141 receiving yards, 3 TDs

No one expected Ricky to even come close to matching his gaudy 2009 numbers (1,121 rushing yards, 13 TDs), but 2010 was certainly a disappointing season for the 33-year-old running back. Still, Williams averaged 4.2 yards per carry and busted off a 45-yard scamper, showing he has plenty left in those legs. After he recently bashed Coach Sparano and the organization, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be back in Miami next season either, and I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t sign with the Jets or Patriots just to stick it to the Dolphins.

2011 Prediction – signs with New England Patriots: 479 rushing yards, 96 receiving yards, 3 TD

Patrick Cobbs / Lex Hilliard / Lousaka Polite, RB:  Forget what I projected — guess who was the Fins’ third-leading rusher last season? Yep, Thigpen with a whopping 73 yards. Short-yardage specialist Polite managed to get 62 rushing yards and his first career TD, while Cobbs and Hilliard played mainly on special teams and combined for exactly zero rushing yards on four carries. The coaching staff reportedly loves Cobbs, and Polite converts on third-and-one situations as well as anyone in the league, so their roles are unlikely to change in 2011.
Hilliard, however, could opt for more playing time, especially with the impending return of the speedy Kory Sheets.

2011 Prediction – signs with New Orleans Saints: 132 rushing yards, 160 receiving yards, 2 TDs

Phins Fantasy Football: RBs

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

The addition of Brandon Marshall should help open the run game for the Dolphins, who ranked fourth in the NFL in rushing yards in 2009 and sport a strong offensive line.  The big question is whether Ronnie Brown, who’ll be motivated to earn a new contract, or the ageless Ricky Williams will reap the most benefits this season.

Ronnie Brown, RB – Brown has been feast-or-famine over the last four years, capable of single-handedly winning any game  or crushing your season.  In 2006, he had his only 1,000-yard rushing campaign (1,008 in 13 games), and in 2008, he made the Pro Bowl while amassing 1,170 yards from scrimmage and 10 rushing TDs (eighth in the league).  But in 2007, Brown suffered a knee injury that cost him the final eight games of the season, right as he was leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage.  Last year, he was fourth in the league in rushing TDs (8) and 11th in rushing yards until a Lisfranc fracture ended his season in Week 10.  Consider that the last star running back who suffered a similar foot injury was Larry Johnson in 2007, who made the Pro Bowl the previous year but hasn’t been the same since (3.3 yards per carry in 2009).

Hate him or love him, Brown has scored 5 rushing TDs in 9 career games against the rival Jets.
Hate him or love him, Brown has scored 5 TDs in 9 career games against the rival Jets.

A consensus second-round pick in 2009, Brown is being drafted as the 22rd RB and 45th overall (10 spots ahead of Williams) in ESPN leagues.  While he can no longer be counted upon as a number one RB, he’s a solid second back or flex option because he’s always a threat score out of the Wildcat.  He could even end up being the steal of the draft if he can manage to stay healthy — the key word, of course, being “if.”  As someone who’s been burned by Brown, who will turn 29 in December, on two occasions, I’m leaving him on the board for the bigger risk-takers anywhere before the fifth round.

2009 Statistics:  648 rushing yards, 98 receiving yards, 8 TDs (9 games)
2010 Prediction:  893 rushing yards, 135 receiving yards, 7 TDs

Ricky Williams, RB – Last season, Williams improbably rushed for 1,121 yards, setting an NFL record for longest time-span between 1,000-yard seasons (6 years), and totaled 13 TDs.  With Brown out of the picture, he averaged 99.8 rushing yards per game in Weeks 10 through 15 before getting slowed down by minor injuries.  Yes, he’s 33 years old, but thanks to Ricky’s “extra-curricular activities,” he has only 575 carries in the NFL over the last five years – about a third as many as Ladanian Thomlinson, Clinton Portis, Steven Jackson, and Thomas Jones.

Still, expectations need to be held in check.  In 2005 and 2008, his previous two full seasons, Williams had 168 and 160 carries, respectively, and isn’t likely to approach the 241 he had on a heavily run-oriented Dolphins team in 2009.  He’s won’t reach 1,000 yards in what’s supposedly his final NFL season, but given Brown’s injury history, it’ll be impossible for Miami to not give Williams significant work all year long. It wouldn’t be a stretch to take Ricky as the first Dolphins RB off the board, and ahead far less consistent players such as Pierre Thomas, Matt Forte, and Joseph Addai.

2009 Statistics:  1,121 rushing yards, 264 receiving yards, 13 TDs
2010 Prediction:  906 rushing yards, 211 receiving yards, 9 TDs

Get used to the WildCobb...
Get used to the WildCobb...

Patrick Cobbs, RB – Cobbs began the season as Miami’s third running back, but suffered a knee injury in Week 5 that cost him the rest of the season.  In 2008, Cobbs averaged an impressive 7.3 yards per carry and caught 19 passes for 275 yards and two TDs, and is a deep sleeper in 2010 if he’s fully healthy.  Cobbs could replace Pat White in Wildcat formations, giving him more scoring opportunities, and has even more value in leagues that count punt and kickoff return yards since he’ll see increased special teams work with Ted Ginn Jr. in San Francisco.  Cobbs is worth a late-round flier, especially as a handcuff for owners of either Brown or Williams (or both).

2009 Statistics:  36 rushing yards, 23 receiving yards, 0 TDs (5 games)
2010 Prediction:  319 rushing yards, 295 receiving yards, 3 TDs

Lex Hilliard, RB - As Williams’ primary backup, Hilliard totaled more than twice as many receiving yards (158) than rushing yards (89), catching a team-high nine passes for 74 yards in Week 16, and vultured a couple of goal-line TDs.  But as the team’s number four RB, his role in the offense will be far too limited to justify a fantasy roster spot.

2009 Statistics:  89 rushing yards, 158 receiving yards, 3 TDs
2010 Prediction:  56 rushing yards, 91 receiving yards, 1 TDs

Kory Sheets, RB – Both the Dolphins and your fantasy team are in serious trouble if they’re counting on fifth-stringer Sheets, who had one carry for five yards last season and should only be a factor on special teams in 2010.

Coming soon:  The biggest fantasy question of the year: which Dolphins’ Tight End is worth drafting as your team’s backup?

Jeff Ireland Draft Chat!

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

The Dolphins are planning big things for the fans for the upcoming draft.  I just got this in my inbox from the Dolphins.

MiamiDolphins.com will provide live video coverage as General Manager Jeff Ireland hosts his annual pre-draft press conference on Thursday, April 8, 2010, at 12:30 p.m. After the press conference at 1:00 p.m., Ireland will take part in a 30-minute Live Video Chat with Dol-Fans. We ask that fan please be sure to submit your first name, city and state with their question. To submit a question for the Dolphins General Manager, please go to www.MiamiDolphins.com/AskJeffIreland.

Its not often that the Dolphins give access to Jeff, much less fan access, so I hope you guys take the chance to send in a quesiton or two.  I know I have a lot to ask… although very little of it has to do with the draft.

I think my first question might be HOW THE HELL DO YOU LET JASON TAYLOR VISIT THE STINKING JETS!!!?!?!!!??

Good lord, my heart is breaking today.  Let’s just hope this is a smoke screen that actually works in getting JT signed for another two years.  I want him to retire a Phin and it’s not like we are swimming in pass rushers…

On a club update, we are trying to organize a trip to watch the first round of the draft live.  We wanted to do a draft party, but I think we instead are going to bring out a group to the draft.  Hopefully we will have t-shirts by then! Get excited.

And lastly, remember to check out Run Ricky Run on ESPN on April 27th.  It should be really intresting.

Go Dolphins!


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