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Friday, November 24, 2006

Dolphins gamble and lose

I'm told the Dolphins agonized over the decision to waive Joe Berger so they could open a roster spot for Norman LeJeune.

I'm told the Dolphins totally expected to re-sign Berger once he cleared waivers.

I'm telling you the Dolphins screwed up in exposing Berger who today was claimed off waivers by the Dallas Cowboys and is already on his way to Dallas.

Berger was more than mildly surprised when the team cut him, especially considering it kept people like Jim Maxwell and a couple of less accomplished backup offensive linemen on the roster when they cut him.

But the Dolphins seemed confident they could get Berger back because he told them up front that he had no desire to leave South Florida. Guess Miami folks didn't figure that other teams read the waiver wires and know that Berger is a promising center.

That exactly the position he'll play for the Dallas Cowboys once he learns their system.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

It's a beautiful day inside Ford Field today.

As I reported in today's Herald, Will Allen will not play as he is inactive for the game. That means Travis Daniels will start at one cornerback with Andre' Goodman at the other corner.

The main thing I look for today is to see how Joey Harrington handles the return to the place where suffered so many meltdowns during the past four years. The folks here are out to get him.

The sound system here just played Piano Man and then the cameras panned to Joey, who as everyone knows didn't endear himself here for his love of playing the piano.

Joey's image on the Jumbotron screen got a raucous round of boos.

It's going to be fun to see what happens.

Let me know what you think of today's doings during and after the game. And may you all have a blessed day filled with God's grace.

Monday, November 20, 2006

On Jason Taylor and another lineup suggestion

Jason Taylor was modest almost to the point of frustration Sunday. He basically took over the game against Minnesota in the final four minutes and brought home a victory for Miami.

It was the fourth consecutive game Taylor has been absolutely dominant and the third in a row he has helped will the Dolphins to victory. Afterward, he said things like, "It's a team game, it's not like tennis or golf, so I have to give my teammates credit for doing the things that allowed me to be in a position to make plays."

That's great. But I don't have to be modest for Taylor. The guy really is GREAT.

He dominates despite an achey back that hasn't let him do much lifting, he dominates despite being only 240 pounds, he dominates even though he's the ONLY player on the entire team other teams gameplan for.

There is no other player on the Dolphins that other teams actually spend time trying to stop except Taylor. And yet Taylor still gets it done.

The problem is he's only one guy and that simply isn't enough. The Dolphins really need a pass-rushing linebacker to help get some pressure on quarterbacks from the other side so Taylor cannot always be double-teammed or chip-blocked.

Here's my idea: We all know that Donnie Spragan is not that rush linebacker. He's OK, but that's it. Just OK. Meanwhile we all saw Derrick Pope making some fine plays when Channing Crowder went out of the game.

I propose the Dolphins give Pope more playing time in place of Spragan. Spragan has only 35 tackles this year and that is about half as many as the other two linebackers. Not good enough. Yesterday he had an interception hit him in the hands and he dropped it.

Adding Pope at weak linebacker can allow you to move Crowder to strong linebacker where he can use his speed not only to cover tight ends, but rush the passer. Of course, the Dolphins won't make this move.

It took them forever to play Yeremiah Bell when I was practically screaming for him to be put in the lineup. The hip pointer Crowder is dealing with now also might limit him this week, meaning Pope might have to take his spot in the lineup anyway.

But when Crowder's healthy, go with Pope ahead of Spragan. Shake things up. Get better!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Rick Spielman bowl today

I am sitting in the press box now and looking across the way to the Minnesota Vikings sideline where Rick Spielman is walking off the field.

A man returning to the scene of the crime.

Anyway, a couple of things to watch today:

The Vikings have no playmakers on the outside. Look for the Dolphins to lock down Minnesota receivers.

The Dolphins will not be able to run the ball against the Vikings. If Miami is to score, Joey Harrington will have to play extremely well today. Does he have it in him?

No surprises on the inactives today. Jeff Zgonina starts for keith Traylor at nose tackle and Andre' Goodman continues to start ahead of Travis Daniels.

Tell me what you think during and after the game.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Too little, too late?

The Dolphins are on a two-game winning streak and, yippie, they believe they can salvage the season by winning out.

How many of you believe that? I mean, actually believe that?

I do not. I believe the Dolphins still have a fine defense -- a playoff-caliber defense at that. But the offense is simply not good enough to get them into the playoffs.

They don't get enough plays out of the quarterback position to make this fantasy run everyone is talking about. Joey Harrington on Sunday didn't throw any interceptions or touchdown passes and everyone in the locker room was talking about him like he made some terrific improvement.

Actually, he did. That was his first Miami start without an interception. But the point is a good NFL team needs its quarterback to help things along, not simply get out of the way while the rest of the players do their jobs.

Speaking of doing their jobs, I've heard grumblings that some of you think Mike Mularkey tries too many gadget plays. Nonsense. The element of surprise is valuable and one way to get it is to do it so often that any team might think, 'They won't try anything now.'

That fumble on the reverse Sunday? Strictly the players' fault. Bad execution, not bad play-calling. But I digress.

Regardless of what you've seen in these two consecutive victories, I know no one is crazy enough to believe this offense has cured its ailments. Regardless of how much you've enjoyed this mini-streak, I would be stunned if any of you really think this team can overcome a three-game deficit in the AFC East standings.

You guys aren't crazy enough to buy that stuff, are you?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Game day against the Chiefs

First things first: Some of you may have read my article today in which Jason Taylor talks about retiring.

He is considering it and I am told that unless the Dolphins right the ship and start winning -- even this year -- he will seriously consider quitting after THIS season.

We'll see.

As for today's game: Daunte Culpepper is inactive again and concern about his health continue.

I believe you'll see a more confident offense early today based on last week's success at Chicago. It will be interesting to see if the Dolphins can have some early success to bouy that confidence and allow it to continue throughout the game.

OK, let me know what you think at halftime and after the game. And watch how Taylor dominates again today.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Kuechenberg's reaction to Bears win

Just got off the phone with Bob Kuechenberg -- you know, the former Dolphins great who stirred a bunch of controversy last week by saying Nick Saban should be impeached and the Dolphins, "have no soul."

Those comments made a lot of Miami players very angry, particularly Jason Taylor, and they ripped into Kooch after Sunday's 31-13 victory over Chicago, a victory Kuechenberg said would not happen.

Here's Kuechenberg's reaction:

What did you think of the game?

"Amazing, huh? Yeah, wonderful. Marvelous. Clearly everybody had their chin straps buckled yesterday. It was an amazing performance. That’s what they need to do all the time. Not many people, including me, gave them much of a chance against the Bears. But yesterday they played the game with their chin straps buckled. Zach [Thomas] and Jason Taylor always have their chin straps buckled but yesterday the entire team did."

Didn't you say you'd take Jason Taylor to dinner if Miami won?

"In response to Jason Taylor’s comment that I need a hug and a hobby, if they want I’d give him a hug and take him to dinner. If he’s interested I’d take him to dinner at Shula's on me -- and he can even have the big 64-ouncer if he wants."

Don't you wish the Dolphins played all the time like they did yesterday?

"Or at least a lot of the time. Look, I don’t want to do anything or say anything to take away from an amazing, incredible performance yesterday. They came out and when nobody gave them a chance, they took it to the Bears in every phase. Physically we took it to the Bears. The offensive line was knocking the Bears impregnable defense back on almost every down. So my heartfelt congratulations to the team because they did it. They not only beat the Bears, they beat the hell out of them."

Kooch, do you feel like you owe the team an apology for what you said about them?

"I don’t know if that’s the right question. I’m happy they played great and played together as a team. It’s a shame it didn’t happen a month ago."

Do you feel like what you said last week made you something of a villain around this team?

"On the one hand, I didn’t want to be the one to kick people when they’re down. On the other hand, that’s the only time you kick people. If they weren't down, they wouldn't be in a position to get kicked. And we all need a kick in the derriere every once in a while, including me. I’m glad the Dolphins brought their A-game, and not just the star players, but the entire team.”

I like Kooch. He tells it like it is. And he admits it when he's wrong. Your thoughts?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Game day against the Bears

I really think the Dolphins have a chance today. Really!

The Bears offense doesn't impress me and I think the Dolphins match up well against them up front.

Don't ask me about how Miami's offense matches up against Chicago's defense. I rather not think about that nightmare.

Anyway, here are your inactives for the day: Daunte Culpepper, Derrick Pope, Fred Evans, Joe Berger, Tim Massaquoi, Kevin Vickerson, Dan Wilkinson, and Marcus Vick as the third QB.

Travis Daniels is active but Andre Goodman will start. It's interesting that Jeff Zgonina is active ahead of Wilkinson. And the fact Culpepper continues to be inactive continues to suggest he's eventually headed to IR.

Let me know what you think about the game at halftime and afterward. I'll give you my thoughts later.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Jason Taylor defends Nick Saban

Some of you, check that, a lot of you have in one form or another called for Nick Saban's firing.

Former Dolphins lineman Bob Kuechenberg agrees with you, telling the Chicago Tribune this week that, "if coaches could be impeached, he should be."

I disagree. Now is not the time. And I am not alone.

Jason Taylor disagrees as well.

“Come on man, the man’s been here a year and a half," Taylor said today. "We won six games at the end of [last] year and we talked about it all offseason, ‘Don’t get all excited because we won six games at the end of the year.’ We’re close. We haven’t made the plays and we’re not playing well enough to win the games right now, but your giving the guy a year-and-a-half and then running him out of town?

"When you brought him in as if he was Jesus last year with the palm leaves and praise? Give the man some time. It’s amazing. People are going to have an opinion and I understand that. People expect a lot and they should. In New York they want to beat the Dolphins twice a year and that’s about it. Down here people want a winner and they should. I appreciate that and myself I expect to win. So I’m disappointed, too.

"I know when the stock goes down at Microsoft I don’t call Bill Gates and say impeach him. You have to be patient and hopefully things will work out."

Your thoughts?