Solid Dolphins Getting Beached by Joe “Queasy Does It” Philbin

11 Nov

The 2014 Miami Dolphins are the 6th highest scoring team in the AFC, just a notch behind the juggernaut Steelers. The Dolphins field the #1 defense in the AFC. So how is it that the Dolphins face Buffalo this Thursday with their playoff hopes most likely hanging in the balance? We have to regretfully place blame on the shoulders of Joe Philbin.

In an alternate universe the Dolphins have been playing to win, and have put away six straight foes. We’re 7-2, and atop the AFC East thanks to our week 1 upset of the Patsies. In that alternate universe we’ve been playing to put games away, instead of handing the ball back to Pro Bowl quarterbacks and crossing our fingers.

Alas, this is the only universe we know. It’s a universe where our coach doesn’t believe in going for the jugular. He plays not to lose, and therefore tends to do so when the going gets tough. It is a universe where we claim Ryan Tannehill is “the guy”, yet don’t trust him to close the door on our opponents. And now it’s a universe where we’re once again in the muddled pile of Wild Card hopefuls we’ve grown so accustomed to over the years.

Detroit faked two punts this weekend, and went for it on a 4th and 6. While our masterful end game was to run Daniel Thomas and Damien Williams into the teeth of the #1 rushing D in football, they closed out the contest by trusting their signal caller, who slung passes on 11 straight plays, ultimately leading them to the end zone. They played to win. They did. They’re in first place.

And until Joe Philbin has some moment of clarity, or DirecTV starts offering Sunday Ticket Alternate Universe, such heights will probably elude us.

GO DOLPHINS, and feel free to follow us on Twitter @TheBottlenose, or our lighter side is available at @VaguelyFunnyDan

How the Hell Did this Become the Most Important Game of the Season?

28 Sep

Perusing our schedule during preseason it was hard to glance at our silly jaunt to jolly ol’ England as a season-defining, must win trip. But you know what? We’re there, folks.

The stench of last year’s Sparano-esque losing of the team has returned. Joe Philbin spent the last week engaged in some bizarre game of no-confidence in Ryan Tannehill. No disrespect to the intricacies of coaching, but who among us doesn’t know several fellow fans who could serve as Offensive Coordinator for an Aaron Rodgers offense and look pretty competent doing so? But hey, Stephen Ross’ reputation precedes him, and with a laughing stock front office we’ll be shopping in the coaching candidate bargain bin for the foreseeable future.

But we digress. The season is still young, but not that young (if we may borrow from THE WEDDING CRASHERS). Does this team look like it has “the stuff” to take on San Diego and Pittsburgh (or Cincy) for a wild card? Whatever blip of spark we witnessed in week one has faded, and now this feels like a team in danger of collapse. Of course, Philbin presided over a collapse last year, with the playoffs on the line and two losing teams on the schedule. True to form, this led Ross to double-down on Philbin. This may have, as it did with Sparano, doomed us to a lost season. Unless…

Yes, there is an unless. The men in that locker room could do it for each other. They could look one another in the eye and refuse to lay down. They could use the adversity as fuel, and in a weird way, win in spite of their coach? Sounds ridiculous, but if a coach has lost the team (the signs are there, people) that may be the only scenario by which the SoFlo Sea Mammals don’t go belly up this year.

A loss to the hapless Oakland Raiders could set the tone. It could signal the end of the Philbin Era, and a painful repeat of the Sparano “bonus year” mistake. It could serve as another sign that the Dan Marino hangover will continue. Green Bay, Chicago, San Diego and Detroit loom in our next five contests, and to head into that string with a loss against the Raiders would be disheartening.

Or, today’s game could be another flicker of hope, a game that says, “We may be adrift, but we’re not Raiders bad.” From there we’ll still face that gauntlet of touch matchups. But being .500 heading into the bye, considering what we’ve been through already, and that 3 out of the 4 teams we’ve faced were in the playoffs last year? Hell, we’d take it.

Are we going to fight, or are we going to let the wheels come off? Strangely the fate of this year’s team may be decided in week four, across the pond. We’re certain Joe Philbin is preparing a rousing speech on his trusty cue cards. I mean really, Joe?

GO DOLPHINS, and feel free to follow us on Twitter @TheBottlenose

The Index Card Still Haunting the Miami Dolphins

22 Sep

“You build a team from the line out.”

That’s the blanket generalization a guy named William Parcells repeated for years, and still stubbornly clung to heading into the 2008 draft. That April the Fins sat atop the entire draft board, a perch earned over a horrific 1-15 season. We were years into the Dan Marino hangover at that point, desperate for a new direction, pleading for a shimmering ray of hope in depressed Davie.

Bill completely ignored the direction the league was headed and instead completely revitalized the aura around the franchise by drafting… a lineman? The cure for the Marino hangover was in our grasp. Not a single scout had another signal-caller above Matt Ryan. Coming off a Cleo Lemon-led disaster of a campaign, with a chance to, with one index card, redirect the entire franchise, and Matt Ryan’s name wasn’t written on it.

That’s not a knock on Jake Long, who dutifully protected the blind side of mediocre quarterbacks for the next five years in Miami before moving on at age 27. No, this venomous rambling is dedicated solely to the man in nipple-high shorts who managed to irrevocably ruin our sports fan lives before yanking his golden parachute and disappearing.

And so with the Miami brass now debating whether to bench Ryan Tannehill (a player we aren’t in love with but also don’t believe is being deployed all too well, by the way), the Marino hangover continues. Dan last wore the aqua and coral in 1999, and it’s been a decade and a half of misses at quarterback ever since.

If the wheels truly are already falling off the Dolphins’ season, and we’re officially worried they are, perhaps this is all part of a horrific daisy chain of bumbling coaching and front office moves that leads us to a kind of cosmic reset button. Maybe this all builds up to another shot at the consensus top signal caller in the draft. And maybe, just maybe, whoever the hell in charge by then won’t botch it.

GO DOLPHINS, and feel free to follow us on Twitter @TheBottlenose

The Bottlenose’s 2014 Miami Dolphins Season Prediction

7 Sep

Okay, you caught me in a good mood. Here’s my unexpectedly rosy 2014 season prediction for our beloved SoFlo Sea Mammals.

WEEK 1. VS PATRIOTS

This feels like a game we win, by about half a point. Gronkowski isn’t quite fully operational yet. The Sherman nightmare is finally behind us, and we expect Bill Lazor to keep the Patriots’ defense guessing. I think the story of this game will be Tannehill “out-Bradying” Brady. Tom will have his moments, and the Patsies will score some points. I just think our suddenly imaginative offense will score a few more.
DOLPHINS 27-24

WEEK 2. @ BILLS

We may be wrong here, but the Bills are feeling like a tear-down in waiting. There’s already a disconnect between the front office and the Head Coach. The E.J. Manuel gamble is looking more and more like a misfire. How nice that our jaunt to upstate New York isn’t in the dead of winter? We think we’ll miss Paul Soliai a good bit in this one, and the Spiller/Jackson combo will have some success. However, we think Tannehill will build on his week 1 success, and slice and dice the bison on their turf.
DOLPHINS 27-17

WEEK 3. VS CHIEFS

The Chiefs have perhaps the most dangerous running back in football. Imagine if they’d done anything, anything at all, to improve their receiving corps. They backed the Brinks truck up to Alex Smith’s house, spending a lot of green on a 220 yards, 1.53 TDs per game quarterback. He feels like a glorified game manager to me, but it’s a free country and the Chiefs can do what they want. The KC defense ain’t as good as they looked last year, but they’re solid. However, our D is solid too, and in Miami the Fins notch another win by the skin of their teeth.
DOLPHINS 24-23

WEEK 4. @ OAKLAND

Do I have the cojones to get the Fins all the way to week 6 without a loss? Alas, I do not. I actually think the Raiders snagged a pretty good one in Carr. I think MJD will have a little bit of a “Don’t You Forget About Me” kind of year as the main rusher in Oaktown, and McFadden will make for a dangerous complement. I believe Oakland has strengthened their defense in a big way this offseason. We should beat them. I think we’re a better team than them right now, but this feels like one where we come out a little bit flat on the other end of the continent. Still, 3-1 after the first month is nothing to sneeze at.
RAIDERS 24-21

WEEK 5. BYE

WEEK 6. VS PACKERS

Reshad Jones returns, and I think our DBs will do a surprisingly good job of keeping Aaron Rodgers in check (by Rodgers’ standards). The problem is that guy Eddie in Green Bay’s backfield. This will be the game when we’ll miss Soliai most. Tannehill will sling it, going toe to toe with Aaron and earning more respect in the process. However, it’s Lacy who will seal the deal for the Pack late in the fourth.
PACKERS 28-27

WEEK 7. @ BEARS

Jay Cutler is going to have his best year as a pro. Alshon, The Beast (who’s only averaged 1,400 freakin’ yards a season since we traded him), Forte and Bennett are all legit targets, and this offense will be a challenge to stop. Their defense has holes, and “Dr. T” will be able to exploit those in an unexpected shootout. Unfortunately we see the Bears edging us slightly in the windy city, sending us to 3-3 after a great start.
BEARS 35-31

WEEK 8 @ JAGUARS

We’re going to assume that the Jaguars will have come to their senses by week 8, and will be starting Blake Bortles. I like that kid a bunch, and the wideout corps is green but talented. This will lead to an uncomfortably close game. However, Gus Bradley hasn’t turned around the Jag defense yet, and Miami will ultimately put too many points on the board. An important win to regain our confidence and jump back above .500.
DOLPHINS 28-24

WEEK 9 VS. CHARGERS

Is it too early to worry about our linebackers handling the Ladarius Green/Antonio Gates nightmare? Rivers is a gunslinger, and between those tight ends, Keenan Allen, Woodhead and Matthews, they will undoubtedly score points. But the Dolphins liked the taste of winning again against the Jags, and find themselves on the winning end of an offensive fireworks show at Sun Life. By the way, Fin Nation will officially be in love with Bill Lazor by this point. Wallace will be in the middle of a very good year, and Tannehill will be right smack dab in the middle of making the leap we all hoped for.
DOLPHINS 38-35

WEEK 10 @ LIONS

The Lions finally quit messing around with WR2 and TE1 this offseason, signing Golden Tate and drafting the freakish Eric Ebron. Matthew Stafford, still just 26, is going to have a monster season. He no longer has just one target and a bunch of also-rans. Add in the Reggie Bush/Joique Bell tandem in the backfield, and Detroit is going to give plenty of teams gobs of trouble. Unfortunately that includes our SoFlo Sea Mammals, who fight valiantly but can’t get the Detroit offense off the field at the end of the game.
LIONS 30-27

WEEK 11 VS. BILLS

The 5-4 Dolphins, smarting from a close loss in Detroit, are licking their chops as Buffalo comes to town. We think this will be our most lopsided win of the year. The EJ Manuel experiment will be sputtering, if not over. The Bills will be starting a top 5 2015 draft pick in the face. Tannehill pads his impressive stats in this semi-cakewalk.
DOLPHINS 35-14

WEEK 12 @ BRONCOS

So yeah, their offense is historically great, and they’ve improved their defense. Denver at home will be next to impossible to beat. We don’t see our defense being able to step to this Broncos juggernaut. Expect a big game from Dr. T as he tries to keep up with Peyton. It’ll be fun to watch him slice and dice against a legend, and expect some inspired running by Knowshon Moreno against his former team. However, don’t expect us to notch a victory while a mile high. We leave Denver at 6-5.
BRONCOS 35-28.

WEEK 13 @ JETS

It flew largely under the radar, but by the end of last season Geno Smith was looking like a semi-dangerous quarterback. CJ2K and Ivory are a solid RB tandem. Eric Decker is a good wideout, but not a game breaker. We think this will be a close one, and the Jets will play us hard. However, Tannehill will be better than Geno, and will generate one TD drive more than his counterpart.
DOLPHINS 24-17.

WEEK 14 VS. RAVENS

This game sticks out like a sore thumb, and we wouldn’t be surprised if it decides the entire season. The Dolphins and Ravens seem like they’ll be battling for wild card spots, and this game might decide whose vacation starts early. This will be a slugfest, with both teams sensing the urgency. Ultimately it will come down to which quarterback can make a play when needed. On this day it’ll be Ryan Tannehill, who scrambles, buying Wallace just enough time to break free for an epic, game winning heave. We’re 8-5 heading to Foxboro.
DOLPHINS 24-20

WEEK 15 @ PATRIOTS

We hate, HATE even writing this, but the Patriots will effectively secure another division crown in this cold, miserable game. Against a machine like they have humming in New England you accept a split of the season series. Miami hops on the team plane at 8-6, but with two very winnable games standing between them and the postseason. Sound familiar?
PATRIOTS 28-17

WEEK 16 VS. VIKINGS

Zimmer is going to have the Vikes cracking skulls this season and playing hard every down. He will simply accept nothing less. To top it off they may have the best RB and WR in football on their roster. Yes, it’s early to say that about Patterson, but he has all the talent to be in that conversation sooner rather than later. If Minnesota is getting strong QB play from either Cassel or Bridgewater they will be a tough out for anyone. But there’s that defense. They gave up the most points in the NFL last season, and have responded with seven new starters. Will it work? Not overnight. This will still be a flawed unit, one that will allow Miami to put together a game-winning drive late in the 4th. The Sea Mammals are 9-6, and, Football Gods willing, face a win-and-we’re-in battle with the Jets in week 17.
DOLPHINS 27-24

WEEK 17 VS. JETS

The Jests would love nothing more than to crush our playoff dreams in front of our home crowd, but after our epic, horrific collapse of last season it just ain’t happening. The Sea Mammals are focused and steady as they handle their business. Ryan Tannehill is razor sharp, Knowshon army-crawls to his heart’s content, and we seize a wild card.
DOLPHINS 30-17

WILD CARD WEEKEND

The Dolphins fall just short against the Bengals in the freezing cold. Neither team is able to pass very well, and the Jeremy Hill/Gio Bernard tandem begins to rumble on us in the 3rd and 4th quarters. All things being equal we could beat this Cincy team, but that’s what home field is about. Our season comes to a close in the mud and flurries and wind.
BENGALS 20-17

SEASON SUMMARY

Ryan Tannehill has answered the bell and proven to be the closest thing we’ve had to greatness since Marino. Bill Lazor has proven to be a wildly shrewd hire. Joe Philbin, although about as exciting as a fungus exhibit, proves that he can at least get to the postseason. Fin Nation hopes that Dennis Hickey can craft a 2015 offseason that will catapult us to the next level.

GO DOLPHINS, and feel free to follow us on Twitter @TheBottlenose

The Biggest Question Heading into this Season: Did They Quit?

4 Aug

Sure, there are roster questions. Sure, one wonders whether Dr. T can expect improved protection with Pouncey out, our best pass blocking back still sidelined and a marked lack of experience at multiple OL positions. Sure, there’s the question on whether Bill Lazor can breathe life into this offense, and properly employ the talents of Mike Wallace and Lamar Miller. Of course, many more personnel and strategy questions loom. However, one question still nags.

DID THEY QUIT?

Something beyond the X’s and O’s happened at the end of last season, with the playoffs hanging in the balance. Our beloved Miami Dolphins didn’t even get off the bus in two must-win games against wildly beatable teams. It looked, to eyes both trained and untrained, that this team had checked out. Whose fault is such a collapse? The NFL season is an absolute grind, no doubt. It’s many battles inside a greater war, with the “anything can happen” playoffs looming for the chosen few. There we were, on the precipice of said Promised Land, and the heart of this team went missing. Our tendency, despite the grey areas present in this (and almost every) situation, is to blame the General.

We’re forced to recall a similar time, when the team quit on Tony “The Mad Fistpumper” Sparano. Stephen “The Mad Waffler” Ross wound up bringing Tony back. This time Ross made big changes, but yet again decided to stop short of hanging a “Help Wanted” sign on the Head Coach’s office. If the end of last season was the players’ unspoken “no confidence” vote in Joe Philbin, then this could very well be another wasted season, just as Sparano’s “bonus year” turned out to be.

We’ll of course watch every snap of the preseason, we’ll study the changes on both sides of the ball, and examine the performance of our newcomers. But the clouds hanging over the Miami Dolphins this August are the same ones that gathered in late December, when we showed the least when it mattered most.

GO DOLPHINS, and feel free to follow us on Twitter @TheBottlenose or my personal handle @VaguelyFunnyDan

The Bottlenose’s 2014 Dolphins Mock Draft

7 May

Thanks to the NFL for the inexplicable wait for the 2014 NFL Draft. What were they thinking? At any rate, here’s our best shot at mocking Miami’s latest rookie haul.

Round 1. ZACK MARTIN, OL, Notre Dame – Mosley is an injury risk. Lewan should be gone. Hell, Zack might be gone too, but I’m gonna let him fall to us. Other linemen will be stretches here, which could warrant a trade down. The Sea Mammals stick to the biggest area of need, and they should be thankful Martin is there at 19. Should slide in at right tackle, but worst case he’s an interior lineman you can lock in for a decade. Gets dicey after him. It’s important to remember how adversely our offensive line play impacted our team. Moreno is a great blocking back. We’ve imported Albert and Shelley Smith. Pouncey is fantastic. Throw Martin into the mix too and Tannehill should be smiling a whole lot more going forward.

Round 2. CHRIS BORLAND, ILB, Wisconsin – All intangibles with this guy. The undersized Borland will overachieve in Davie, like a kid named Zach Thomas did for so many years. He will be a tackling machine, and help Dolfans forget the free agency linebacker debacle spearheaded by Jeff Ireland last season. I think Borland has “fan favorite” written all over him. Dude’s a football player, plain and simple.

Round 3. DONTE MONCRIEF, WR, Ole Miss – This pick ain’t about phasing out Mike Wallace, whose value will become apparent once our quarterback has time, and now that we have (knock on wood) a less, well, offensive offensive coordinator. This pick is about Brian Hartline, the solid, handsomely paid #2 wideout whose contract isn’t guaranteed past next season. Make no bones about it, the Fins would prefer two receivers who strike fear into opponents hearts. Moncrief is a beast, and will be someone’s bargain bin gem in this draft. The receiver depth in this draft class is insane, and with the NFL becoming more of a passing league by the second missing out on those riches would be a mistake.

Round 4. DAKOTA DOZIER, OG, Furman – The small school guard more than held his own at the Senior Bowl, when suddenly facing blue chip competition. Didn’t wow on the stopwatch, but we like Dozier’s potential as an interior lineman. We wouldn’t be surprised to ultimately see Dozier join Zack Martin as rookie starters on the right side of the line.

Round 5.  JERICK MCKINNON, RB, Georgia Southern – The converted quarterback lit up the combine and impressed at the senior bowl. A bowling ball with great measurables, his upside is well worth a fifth rounder, especially with Moreno being probably just a temporary fix.

Round 6. DEION BELUE, CB, Alabama – A cornerback with some upside, who’s played at the highest levels of college ball. I mean, if Cortland Finnegan is going to start for us we should pay some attention to the position, right? They’ve all got imperfections at this stage of the draft, but a ‘Bama kid is usually well-prepared for Sundays.

Round 7. COLT LYERLA, TE, Oregon – When a player with Pro Bowl ability is sitting there this late it’s hard not to pull the trigger. The physical freak has it all, including a possible cocaine habit. Still, that’s what drug testing is for. If he keeps his head on straight, we could see both Moncrief and Colt become big time contributors with only a 3rd and 7th spent.

GO DOLPHINS, and feel free to follow us on Twitter @TheBottlenose

Dolphins Simply Can’t Skimp at Left Tackle

4 Mar

The truth is, though Jeff Ireland presented several reasons to doubt his ability over the years, the straw that broke the prostitute mom’s back was his inability to address left tackle last offseason.

Dennis Hickey must not, cannot, put Ryan Tannehill out there, in his make or break third season, with another Swiss cheese offensive line. The SoFlo Sea Mammals weren’t lousy enough last year to have an elite draft pick, which leaves this writer hoping either Branden Albert or Eugene Monroe wind up in Davie.

Albert is, simply put, a known quantity. Is he elite now? No. But if we’ve got the cap space to protect the blind side with a proven guy, we simply have to land one. Monroe is intriguing. If you’re going to back the Brinks truck to a guy’s house, age is a factor. Pro Football Focus had him in their top 10 overall tackles last season, at just 26-years of age.

Great first move nailing Grimes down. Hickey now has to reverse course on our tragic o-line situation. It seems that putting that cap space to use on a left tackle is the smart money. Where we’re picking there will be elite prospects elsewhere on the line.

But skimping again on the blind side would most likely be disastrous. Here’s hoping Hickey knows our recent history, so we aren’t doomed to repeat it.

GO DOLPHINS, and feel free to follow us on Twitter @TheBottlenose

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