Tag:Tony Sparano
Posted on: October 24, 2011 10:03 am
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Dolphins not looking to fire Sparano yet

SparanoPosted by Josh Katzowitz

At some point, you have to feel sorry for Dolphins coach Tony Sparano. His team is 0-6, and though some of that is his fault, Miami has lost in some mind-boggling ways.

Then, on Sunday, after Tim Tebow led the Broncos to 18 unanswered points in an overtime win -- even if it was a mirage -- owner Stephen Ross was spotted chatting up former University of Florida coach Urban Meyer (currently unemployed as a football coach) on the sideline. Considering Ross completely emasculated Sparano in the offseason by publicly going after Jim Harbaugh, I joked that obviously Ross was offering Sparano’s job to Meyer, effective immediately.

And really, it wouldn’t have been surprising if Ross had fired Sparano after Sunday’s effort. Alas, according to the Miami Herald, Sparano will continue coaching the Dolphins for now. Ross boarded a flight to Seattle, so the newspaper speculates he could change his mind after reflection, but that appears unlikely at this moment, especially since he probably wouldn’t fire anybody from thousands of miles away.

But going after Meyer? Was that really a joke, or could Ross actually be considering that?

From the Herald:
Never mind that the time Ross and Meyer spent on the sideline was completely coincidental. The owner intended to go into the Dolphins locker room to celebrate with his team when he left his suite. But by the time he got to the field level, the Broncos had made the score 15-7 and were lining up for an onside kick.

So the owner went to the sideline where Meyer “happened” to be standing. And the two got to talking. And Meyer, an impressive guy, seemingly impressed Ross.

That’s where it stops for the moment. It really can go no further. Meyer isn’t anyone’s midseason or interim hire. The Dolphins still believe if, and when, Meyer returns to coaching it will be on the college level.

None of that, though, should comfort Sparano. He is not long for this job, and it’s not all his fault. But that doesn’t change the near-certainty that a change is coming and Sparano will be the one left behind.

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 2:00 am
Edited on: October 24, 2011 2:31 am
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 7

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 7 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.


1. He's Just a Winner
For the second time in three weeks, we lead the Pile with a story about Tim Tebow, thanks to Denver's 18-15 win in Miami on Sunday. And for the second time in three weeks, we lead the Pile with a story that was going to involve the phrase "Tim Tebow is a bad quarterback." And for the second time in three weeks I fully expect to be thrashed in the comments for not giving Tebow enough credit because he's a "winner."

This is fair, because Tebow did win. But it's unfair because Tebow looked unlike anything resembling an NFL quarterback for the majority of the game. Ask anyone who watched the game and they'll agree with you. My colleagues Pete Prisco ("looked lost," "isn't close to being a good quarterback") and Josh Katzowitz ("a mirage," "terrible," "horrendous," "no idea what he was doing") threw down lines on Tebow that belong on the back of the straight-to-DVD cover for the latest Adam Sandler movie.

To sum up everything about this game, let's watch the two-point conversion when Denver tied the game at 15. Before you click play, though, I want you to imagine you're a Dolphins defender and you know the Broncos only need two yards.


OK, presuming you played along, that video got McFly'd, because it never happened. Since, you know, anyone with a modicum of football sense saw the quarterback draw from Tebow coming on the play and snuffed it out. Somehow, the Dolphins failed to do this.

There's plenty of blame to go around, of course. Everyone on Miami's defensive coaching staff should be embarrassed for not knowing that was coming. And everyone on the Dolphins defense should be embarrassed for not recognizing what was happening, regardless of the playcall. Tony Sparano should be embarrassed after he went for a two-point conversion at the beginning of the fourth quarter with the Dolphins up 12-0; an extra point would have rendered this entire discussion moot.

In case you don't believe me, just look at the rollercoaster that is the win probability for the Broncos over the course of Sunday's game, courtesy of AdvancedNFLStats.com:



I realize that knocking on Tebow after he led a comeback on the road (well, kind of) in the face of adversity makes me a jerk, especially when that adversity includes a) a coach who might not want him to succeed, b) no real help at the other offensive skill positions and c) lacking the appropriate skills to play quarterback in the NFL.

But you know what he does have? The best attitude in the NFL.

"It's a good stadium," a smiling Tebow said after the game. "I enjoy playing here. Sometimes you have to find a way and keep believing and keep fighting."

That's classic Tebow, even if he had no business winning the game. I like what I heard on Twitter Sunday -- that Tebow is everything his critics say he is and yet, at the same time, everything his fans say he is -- because it's true. Tebow's a mechanically flawed, imperfect quarterback for the NFL, but he's fantastic young man who works his ass off and has such an improbably high level of faith in a higher power that he's automatically a lightning rod for discussion and/or controversy.

Look, I like Tebow and I don't necessarily enjoy taking the side of the argument where I have to dog the guy. I don't, I swear. But so very much about the Broncos victory in Miami was about the Dolphins inability to operate as a successful football team, and so very much of the Broncos victory was not about Denver's ability to dominate offensively.

But pick a side -- you have to, of course! -- and call me a jerk in the comments either way. Just remember that if you're the one screaming about how he's a winner you're on the same side as Skip Bayless and and LeBron James.

2. A Hue, Tiny Mistake
On the bright side, Tebow only cost the Broncos one first-round draft pick. Carson Palmer might, depending on how Oakland finishes the season, cost the Raiders two of them. Although if Palmer plays like he did on Sunday afternoon, it's pretty unlikely, since throwing three picks in one half isn't a great formula for making it to the AFC Championship.

Palmer did just that on Sunday, helping Kansas City blowout the Raiders 28-0 in Oakland. Oh yeah, it's awkward, and we'll get to that. But real quick, let me say I'm sorry, personally, to my colleague Matt Moore (not the guy who stinks for the Dolphins; and no, that never gets old) for consistently ripping the Chiefs over the past few weeks. They've now won three-straight games and next week they're playing the Chargers to determine who'll be in first place in the AFC West. Yes, the NFL is as insane as you think.

Back to the Raiders: for the most part, Hue Jackson's done a nice job with this team so far in 2011 but he's shown an ability to botch a decision or two. And he botched a big one on Sunday, waiting until 10 minutes left in the third quarter to bring in Palmer for Kyle Boller, who was the first quarterback in Raiders history to throw three picks in the first half of a single outing.

It's not that Hue should have yanked Boller more quickly, or that Hue should have left Boller in. It's just that he went into the game with no idea of how to handle the Palmer situation and by bringing in Palmer -- who obviously wasn't ready, because otherwise he would have started, right? -- for part of the second half, he not only offered up a pile of doubt for Raiders fans to judge Palmer on, but he put his would-be franchise quarterback out there for injury.

"Uncertainty at quarterback is not what led to interceptions or anything like that," Jackson said on Sunday, instead chalking up the lack of a clear-cut decision and the uncertainty at quarterback to "some gamesmanship."

Jackson was in a bad situation, because Darren McFadden was injured and Boller looked miserable, but if you're coaching this team and you're the guy who pulled the trigger on the Palmer trade, you need to have a plan locked in and stick with it regardless of how poorly things are going.

3. Elsewhere in the AFC West ...
For such a seemingly shoddy division, the AFC West is slinging some Week 7 storylines -- we've got Tebow, the Raiders controversy and the Chiefs getting back into the race. Oh yes, and the Chargers losing a "shoulda won" game against the Jets on Sunday, falling 27-21 in New York on a day that, instead of establishing the Chargers as one of the elite teams in the AFC, exposed them as having the same flaws they've always had.

"We can sit here and think of a bunch of reasons why," Philip Rivers said after the game. "The bottom line is that we came out playing really well. We just didn't finish off the game."

The Bolts came out white-hot -- on the fourth play from scrimmage, Donald Butler stripped Dustin Keller and took a "fumble" to the house to give San Diego an early lead. The Chargers caught a break on a Nick Mangold holding call that led to a Mark Sanchez interception and turned it into an Antonio Gates touchdown.

Gates return was the early key for San Diego, who appeared to solve their red-zone woes with the future Hall of Famer in the starting lineup.

But Brian Schottenheimer and Sanchez figured out that the Chargers had a bigger problem -- they don't have anyone that can matchup man-to-man with Plaxico Burress who, just a few months removed from being in prison, caught three touchdowns in the Jets win.

There's another problem for Norv's team, too, and it's Rivers playing poorly. I'm not sure whether or not the two-minute drill they ran at the end of the game was Turner's doing or Rivers' work, but it was one of the most mangled series of plays I've seen in a long, long time.

After holding the Jets to a field goal and a six-point lead, the Chargers started their final drive with 1:29 on the clock. They then proceeded to run five plays, move the ball a whopping 25 yards and burn 1:18 off the clock, meaning that in the most dire of circumstances, one of the most high-powered offenses in the NFL moved the ball a quarter of the field at a snail-like pace of 3.12 seconds per yard.

Can you imagine how hot Turner's seat would be if the Chargers had coughed up a couple of their September squeak-by victories?



4. Quite Unprobable
It's a shame that Emmitt Smith's no longer dropping knowledge bombs on television, because I'd love to hear what the Hall of Famer would say about rookie third-rounder DeMarco Murray breaking his single-game Cowboys record for rushing yards in a game after piling up 253 yards on 25 carries.

As I wrote in this space after Week 2, "the former Sooner is a highly-talented receiver out of the backfield, and has the potential to be a serious threat." That was based on what I'd seen from Murray in very limited action through the first two weeks and, clearly, it was an understatement.

The Cowboys still didn't fire on all cylinders, but it doesn't take a maximum effort to beat up on the Rams, even to the point of a 34-7 whipping. Murray won't run like that every week but, man, even if you take away his first-quarter, 91-yard touchdown run, Murray still averaged 6.75 yards per carry against St. Louis.

Having talent, though, is typical of the Cowboys. Using it to maximize their success on gameday's the bigger issue. But with Seattle, Buffalo, Washington, Miami and Arizona on the schedule over the next six weeks, it's hard not to want to double down on their chances of winning the NFC East.

5. Six Or One-Half Dozen
One of the reasons to love the Cowboys? The Redskins are in the middle of a freefall. And it's all on the Jekyll and Jekyll combo that Mike Shanahan is rolling out under center this year.

Honestly, what would it take for Shanahan to admit that he made a mistake coming into 2011 with Rex Grossman and John Beck as his starting quarterbacks? Because before the season started, it was an indefensibly ridiculous gamble, the kind that seemed just bat-poop crazy enough to work but obviously wouldn't anyway.

Yet after four weeks, the Redskins were 3-1, held sole possession of first place in the NFC East. Sure, the end of the world was nigh, but at least Shanny seemed smarter.

Now, after John Beck's performance -- 22/37 for 279 yards, a passing touchdown, a rushing touchdown and a pick -- on Sunday in a 33-20 loss in Charlotte, it's really impossible to imagine that they'll be a mathematical contender for much longer.

"I think overall John played very well first time out," Shanahan said Sunday.

Beck's numbers weren't that terrible, but he didn't look particularly adept at running Washington's offense and whether or not he's the answer for the Redskins shouldn't even be a question any more: he's not.

Adding to the problems for Washington is a report that running back Tim Hightower has a torn ACL (which would obviously put his season in jeopardy) and that receiver Santana Moss will miss 3-4 weeks with a broken hand. Oh yes, and Rex Grossman has pneumonia, so he's unlikely to be available any time soon.

Like I said on the podcast before Week 7, I'll pull a reverse Rex right now and guarantee that the Redskins finish in the basement of the NFC East. That's a better bet than them winning the division at this point.

6. Everyone Off This Bandwagon!
Those first five weeks were sweet for Lions fans, and as Mike Freeman wrote from Detroit on Sunday, it's not panic time yet, but it's getting close.

That's mainly because in Detroit's 23-16 loss to Atlanta on Sunday, their flaws as a team were really on display. With Jerome Harrison out for the season and Jahvid Best potentially sidelined for the year, this team has zero running game -- Maurice Morris led the way with nine carries for 50 yards.

They can't stop the run either; Detroit ranks 28th in the league in rushing yards allowed (129.4 yards per game) and Michael Turner carved them up on Sunday, ensuring that Matthew Stafford didn't get another shot at a comeback.

Getting a look Sunday might not be the biggest concern for Stafford either, because a bad result from the MRI he's reportedly undergoing Monday could spell for doom for what appeared to be a magical season. Stafford might be fine and then the passing game isn't a concern.

But if the Lions can't run the ball and they can't stop the run, they're going to struggle to win games against teams later in the year.

And all that swagger we've been talking about? Somehow it's backfiring. Last week it was Jim Schwartz' fiery tirade towards Jim Harbaugh; this week Lions defensive players were supposedly taunting Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan after he suffered an injury.

The Lions have enough talent to keep winning, and the future is bright in Detroit. And none of the things happening to them are, in an individual sense, devastating. But them all together and it's a quick recipe for the wheels coming off.

7. And Back on This One!
I was pretty sure the Texans would cover on Sunday. Win? Maybe. But it would be close. After all, Houston's been pretty putrid on offense since Andre Johnson injured his hamstring two weeks ago, managing just 39 points in losses to the Ravens and Raiders.

Needless to say, then, I wasn't prepared for the 41-7 smackdown that Arian Foster and company laid on the Titans. Foster piled up 234 total yards and three touchdowns, Matt Schaub missed on only five passes and the Texans defense stifled the Titans, holding them to 148 total yards on Sunday.

Chris Johnson, who said afterwards that his play is "not an issue," was, um, the biggest issue, rushing for just 18 yards on 10 carries.

"It's just a situation I got to continue to say I can't do nothing but keep working hard, running hard and doing what I can do for this team," Johnson said.

The problem is that Johnson's not running hard. Ask anyone who's watched him play this year and it's pretty apparent that he's not the same guy who deserved the big contract he held out for prior to this year. He's not showing any burst through the hole, he's got happy feet at the line and he looks like a running back who might be really fast but doesn't know how to run.

That's unfortunate for the Titans, obviously, but I'm not sure it would really matter in an AFC South race that's already wrapped up for all intents and purposes. The Texans showed on Sunday that despite their flaws, their still head and shoulders above the Jaguars, Titans and Colts. They might be second only to the 49ers when it comes to odds for making the playoffs, and with two matchups against the Jaguars, one against the Browns, one more against the Titans and a trip to Indy still on the docket, nine wins seems like a shoo-in.

Which means so is the division title; everyone else in the South is just that terrible this year.

8. Recent Super Bowl Rematches
I thought it was kind of interesting that we had a pair of matchups from the last three Super Bowls this year in Week 7, as the Colts and Saints squared off on Sunday night and the Steelers and Cardinals played during the day.

I also thought it was interesting that the teams who lost those Super Bowls are terrible -- the Colts remain winless and got absolutely whooped 62-7 by New Orleans Sunday night. I'm as guilty as anyone of discussing how important Peyton Manning is to Indy's chances, and I think they'd be a .500 team with him this year.

But they'd still be bad, because the dude doesn't play defense, and he certainly isn't responsible for Drew Brees throwing five touchdowns and only four incompletions in a single game.

As for Arizona/Pittsburgh, man does that Kevin Kolb trade look awesome or what? Kolb had a 73-yard touchdown, but it's poppycock to give him too much credit, since it was basically a five-yard drag route that LaRod Stephens-Howling turned into a long score.

I used this analogy in the podcast, but it's like the Cardinals are Netflix and Kolb is Qwikster, only the parent company doesn't have the option of hitting the reset button.


9. No Offense But ...
No offense. Like scoring and points and stuff -- there wasn't much of it during the early portion of the day games. Dolphins-Broncos, Redskins-Panthers, Browns-Seahawks; all were field-goal contests for at least the first half and, in some cases, longer.

There were plenty of scores (49, according to NFL Network's Red Zone, during the "day" games) but clearly offensive output was down from previous weeks. Brees blew up and Aaron Rodgers blew up and Ben Roethlisberger blew up, but those guys were the only quarterbacks to go over 300 yards on Sunday.

By contrast, four guys went over 400 yards in Week 1 (and 14 went over 300). Nine went over 300 yards in Week 2. 11 over 300 in Week 3. 10 in Week 4. Six quarterbacks crossed 300 yards in Week 5, and just six again in Week 6.

To me, this represents the point in the year where the defense finally caught up with the high-octane offenses in the NFL.

That doesn't mean the NFL's not a passing league any more, because it certainly is. Instead, a combination of the lockout, the reduced offseason workouts, the reduced in-season contact and rules designed to protect wide receivers and quarterbacks really set defenses back for the first few weeks of the 2011 season.

Lots of dudes could still break Dan Marino's record -- Aaron Rodgers is on pace 5,421 yards, Tom Brady's on pace for 5,768 yards -- but we've said that before only to see cold weather, injuries and improved defenses slow down incredible passing numbers.

It might just be happening again right now.

10. On Another Planet
When we see great athletes succeed, sometimes it's difficult to see just how dominant they are, because the game moves so slowly and looks so easy for them. This is often called "the zone."

Aaron Rodgers isn't just hanging out in this space -- at the beginning of the 2010 playoffs, he paid cash for about 30 acres of land in the zone and he's been living there ever since.

His level of play in his first three years running the Packers offense was incredibly impressive, but what he's doing in 2011 is absolutely phenomenal and, without being crass, watching him carve up defenses with precision is like football porn.

Rodgers has a combination of skills -- a lightning quick release, rapid movement through his reads, the ability to look off defenders, quick feet, to name a few -- that make him as deadly and precise a quarterback as we've seen in the NFL in a long time.

That's not a knock on Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, because Rodgers is different. And right now he's better -- it seems like every single drive he makes a throw that knocks your socks off and seems virtually impossible.

If Rodgers keeps up his current pace, he'll become the first player in NFL history to throw for more than 4,000 yards, complete more than 70 percent of his passes and throw less than 10 interceptions. (Drew Brees accomplished the first two in 2009 but threw 11 picks.)

There are things that could go wrong, of course, but if you look back at 2010, Rodgers didn't even really get hot until November and holy hell did he get hot.

Just remember that when you're deciding what to watch over these next few weeks.

Muffed Punts
Leftovers from Sunday's action ...
... Olindo Mare made three-straight field goals, each five yards longer than the last (35, 40, 45) because of two-straight Panthers offensive
... Brian Robison apologized for kicking T.J Lang in the groin and said it was an accident. The GIF below disagrees. Thankfully, Lang says his groin is fine. In case you care.
... Will Indy remember Sean Payton eating a hot dog the next time they play the Saints?
... The Broncos first third-down conversion on Sunday came with 4:22 remaining. In the third quarter.
... Calvin Johnson became the first wide receiver in Lions history with 10 or more touchdowns in three seasons on Sunday. That still doesn't mean Matt Millen should have drafted all those guys.
... Big ups to Tony Gonzalez for becoming the NFL's second all-time leader in receptions.
... Mike Wallace now has six-straight games with a reception of 40 yards or longer.
... The Packers are just the fourth team in NFL history to start the season 7-0 after winning a Super Bowl.
... Cam Newton extended his own streak -- only player in NFL history with seven or more rushing and passing touchdowns through seven games.
... Newton also tied Vince Young's record for rookie rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, with seven. Something tells me he breaks it.

Worth 1,000 Words



Jim Irsay Pop-Culture Referencing Tweet That's Sure to Drive Colts Fans Insane of the Week
"There's a lot of things,that can kill a man..a lot of ways 2 die...and some already dead,that walk besides me"

Ray LaMontagne probably couldn't have imagined the grizzly death that went down on Sunday night.

GIF O' THE WEEK
That the referee -- who quite clearly saw Brian Robison kick T.J. Lang in the man-region -- didn't throw Robison out for this is absolutely impressive. Even Roman Harper thinks this is cheap.



Hot Seat Tracker
It's totally worth noting that Todd Haley isn't on this list. Impressive move by him.
  • Jack Del Rio -- Some kid asked Rashean Mathis when JDR was getting fired. I texted my aunt in Jacksonville asking if it was one of her sons. She said it wasn't but that she was wondering the same thing.
  • Jim Caldwell -- Just because Indy's going to ride him out doesn't mean his job is safe.
  • Tony Sparano -- Adios, amigo.
  • Steve Spagnuolo -- The Rams are crushed by injuries but the bad losses are piling up. They need a good close to the season.
  • Ken Wisenhunt -- He's got the Cards practicing on their off day during their bye week. Might be feeling some pressure.
  • Norv Turner -- That two-minute drill against the Jets was a borderline fireable offense on its own.
  • Mike Shanahan -- What happens if the Redskins finish 4-12?
Chasing Andrew Luck
This is a heated race, folks. Certainly more interesting than the AFC South.

Colts (-500): Is point differential a tiebreaker? Because that would be good -- er, bad for the Colts.
Dolphins (-450): Their schedule is also quite bleak. At least their fans are happy?
Rams (-350): The NFC West schedule should keep them from landing the top pick, but it's not a guarantee.
Cardinals (-225): Wouldn't this be something after they traded for Kevin Kolb?
Jaguars/Vikings (-200): There sure are a lot of teams on this list who already invested heavily in quarterbacks.

MVP Watch
As I noted above, Rodgers is doing unholy things right now. There might be some sort of interesting, half-hearted argument at the end of the year, but if Rodgers keeps doing what he's done through seven weeks, he'll win in a landslide.
Posted on: October 20, 2011 10:21 am
 

'Suck for Luck' is not cool by Karlos Dansby

A. Luck is the subject of the Posted by Josh Katzowitz

If you want to upset Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby, if you want to get his heart pumping rapidly, bring up the Suck for Luck campaign and watch him go.

In case you’re stuck under the bad vibes created by some of the worst teams in the NFL -- I’m looking at you, Dolphins, Rams, Colts and Vikings -- Suck for Luck is the idea that a team will tank the rest of the season in order to gain the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, which that team then could use to select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.

But to suggest that a professional athlete would tank games for the sake of something that would happen next year, when that athlete might or might not still be on that team, is insulting to Dansby.

“It’s not right, bro. It’s not right,” Dansby told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “We put too much into this, man, to have the fans say that --  period, point blank -- or even promote that campaign. It’s kind of sad.”

Go on …

“It pisses me off,” he said. “I don’t understand nothing about that. I put too many hours into this, man, put too many years into this, sacrificed too much to ask somebody to put that stipulation on me and my teammates. Because I know how much we put into this.”

Dansby then was asked if he’d consider sitting out the final games of the season in order to insure losses for his team. In his answer, he said the word “no” eight times and the phrase “not going to happen” twice in the span of his 31-word response.

He also said this: “Man, we got 11 games. What are you talking about? We can’t look at next season. We’ve got 11 games. We can win ‘em out, and then what? Then you’d be biting your tongue. Those guys that are saying that are fair-weather fans. They’re not real Dolphins fans.”

Or maybe they’re the biggest Dolphins fans of all. With the team rowing in circles, with coach Tony Sparano almost assuredly gone, with quarterback Chad Henne’s fate still up in the air, you could understand why the fans would be dreaming about Luck -- a guy who maybe, possibly could turn around an organization.

Just don’t mention it to Dansby.

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Posted on: October 19, 2011 11:06 am
Edited on: October 19, 2011 5:06 pm
 

Sparano's job to hinge on Sunday's outcome?

Posted by Will Brinson

Not breaking news: Tony Sparano is on the hot seat. We knew that way back when owner Stephen Ross spent the offseason chasing Jim Harbaugh and we certainly know that now that Sparano's 0-5 and coaching a Dolphins team that looks like they've already given up on the season.

But how long will Sparano last? Well, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Sparano's future likely hinges on whether or not he can defeat the Broncos this Sunday.

Jackson cites a "close associate of Ross" who says the owner is "very frustrated" and that if Sparano loses to the Broncos, he'll take another look at whether or not to fire the Miami coach.

This makes lots of sense -- the Dolphins are now winless, they've been embarrassed twice on prime time (two sloppy Monday night games) and this Sunday, things are going to be weird in Sun Life Stadium.

That's because the 2008 Florida Gators championship team will be honored at halftime of the game. The key member of that championship team, one Tim Tebow, will be starting for the Broncos on Sunday.

Sun Life will be slammed with Tebow fans -- many of them wearing Broncos jerseys -- and if the Dolphins provide another sloppy showing during a home game that'll have a road crowd, then Sparano could find himself at 0-6 and at the helm of the most underachieving team in the NFL.

Or not at the helm, depending on how poor they look.

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Posted on: October 18, 2011 12:14 am
Edited on: October 18, 2011 5:58 am
 

Dolphins look like they already gave up on 2011

Posted by Will Brinson


The Jets came into Week 6 a very desperate and discombobulated team. The Dolphins, at 0-5, weren't exactly on cruise control but given that Mark Sanchez was 1-3 against Miami prior to Monday night, well, there was a chance to show some life and save Tony Sparano's job.

Rex Ryan's crew tried to give it Miami a win too, but the Dolphins refused to take it, exhibiting a slew of mistakes en route to getting beat down 24-6 in the Meadowlands in primetime.

There are excuses, of course. Teams can't prepare out of bye weeks the same way they used to. Chad Henne is done for the season. And, um, well actually that's about it. Dropped passes, a lack of a pass rush and the inability to convert in the red zone -- all things that plagued Miami on Monday night -- don't count as excuses, because those are problems.

And those problems were scattered all over the place for the Dolphins who put on a miserable performance Monday. Cameron Wake and the rest of the Dolphins front seven barely sniffed Mark Sanchez, who looked extremely shaky to start the game, and never particularly righted the ship on offense.

Credit goes to the Jets offensive line on there -- no doubt motivated by the comments from Santonio Holmes last week ... and the week before that -- because they did a fantastic job of protecting Sanchez. Nick Mangold's return to the lineup, fully healthy, clearly helps them up front.

The Dolphins wide receivers dropped close to double-digit passes that should have been catches. One in particular stands out. Brandon Marshall -- who didn't exactly back up his big talk with a big game despite catching six balls for 109 yards -- streaked towards the end zone, called for the ball with Antonio Cromartie behind him, and didn't jump up for the ball until it was far too late, giving Cromartie a chance at knocking the pass from Matt Moore down.

Moore wasn't that horrible, honestly. 16 of 34 with two picks looks terrible, but, again, the Dolphins dropped a pile of passes and he had to force balls late under heavy duress from the Jets pass rushers. Oh yes, and Marshall -- again, he was going to play like a monster! -- ran out of bounds with nary a single defender in between he and the end zone.

The red zone offense was the worst of all, though. The Dolphins settled for a 23-yard field goal early in the first quarter and got a gift when the Jets bumbled the next kickoff. Instead of points for Miami, though, it resulted in a Darrelle Revis 100-yard pick six and a complete momentum shift.

"That was huge," Rex Ryan said afterwards. "Anytime you can get a red-zone interception and turn it into points that's a huge play."

Another first-half field goal from Dan Carpenter was all the Dolphins would get on Monday and the best possible example of where this team stands might have been their decision to sit on the ball with one timeout and 30-plus seconds on the clock, down 14-6, in the first half.

Not that Miami's got a high-powered offense or anything, but come on. Run a screen to Reggie Bush. Take a shot downfield to Brandon Marshall. There are weapons for the Dolphins and they just didn't seem interested in using them.

Which kind of sums up where Miami is now. They played sloppy and looked like a team that gave up before the game really ever started. Unfortunately for Sparano, we've seen what that usually means for a head coach.

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Posted on: October 15, 2011 3:45 pm
 

For the gambler in you, Week 6

Posted by Josh Katzowitz



Each Saturday, we’ll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by bodog.com for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you’ll read all week. Because if you can’t lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what’s the point of watching sports at all?

Regular season win total -- Philadelphia Eagles 

Over 7½ (+110)

Under 7½ (-140)

The fundamental question here (obviously) is whether you believe the Eagles will get themselves together and play like the team most of us thought they could be (not at Dream Team expectations per se, but better than what they’re currently shoveling each week on the field for us to examine). They’re 1-4 right now. Looking at the rest of their schedule, they should beat the Cardinals, Seahawks and Dolphins. Then, they’d have to get four more wins against the likes of the Redskins (twice), Cowboys, Bears, Giants (twice), Patriots and Jets. Honestly -- and I don’t know why -- I’d go with the over, but man, I’d be nervous about that pick.

Which team will win the Number 1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft?    

Indianapolis Colts 3/1       

Miami Dolphins 7/2     
 
St. Louis Rams 7/2    
  
Jacksonville Jaguars 4/1

Carolina Panthers 6/1

Denver Broncos 7/1       

Minnesota Vikings 9/1    
  
Arizona Cardinals 10/1    
 
Any Other Team 9/1    

Ah, the Suck for Luck special. I think the Colts will play well enough to win some games, and I have a suspicion the Rams will turn around their season a bit. But I have no faith in the Dolphins. With each loss, the team gets further away from Tony Sparano, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team completely quit in the second half of the season. Then, replace the injured Chad Henne with Andrew Luck, and we’ll see if Miami can resurrect its organization.

Which New York state team will have the best regular season record?
 
Buffalo Bills 5/4       

New York Giants 2/1       

New York Jets 2/1 

I love this question, and I love this answer: the Bills.

Tim Tebow - total starts in the 2011 regular season?   
    
Over/Under 7 ½

How do you go back to Kyle Orton in this situation? You don’t. Unless Tebow gets injured, I think he’s the starter the rest of the season. I’d go over.

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Posted on: October 14, 2011 11:02 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 11:03 am
 

Marshall: I'll play like a monster, get ejected

MarshallPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Brandon Marshall hasn’t had much to say this season. He’s caught 22 passes, tied for 29th in the NFL, and considering the Dolphins receiver plays for a winless team, there hasn’t been a reason for Marshall, who’s known for his controversies and who admitted this summer to suffering from borderline personality disorder, to make some kind of outrageous statement.

Until this week when he had a few incendiary comments to make when talking about his team’s upcoming matchup with the Jets on Monday night.

Brandon, the mic is all for you.

“I think the past four games have been tough for me, trying to control some things, and, hey man, I’m just going to let it out,” Marshall said, via the Miami Herald.

“I don’t care if I have two, three cameras on me. I don’t care if I have penalties. It doesn’t matter; I’m going to let it all out. I don’t care what you guys write or what the commentators say. I’m just going to play football. That’s what I’m best at. I’m best when I play emotional. I’m best when I play with passion. You guys are going to see that on Monday Night Football. I don’t know if it’s throwing a football 15 yards in the bleachers, or getting a 15-yarder [penalty], or punting the ball and getting thrown out of the game. But something is going to happen. I’ll probably get kicked out after the second quarter.”

Marshall, by the way, repeated the assertion that he was probably going to be ejected by the second quarter four times. Reporters asked him if he was just kidding around.

Marshall's controversies
I’m not joking. I’m serious,” he said. “They want to fine me, hit me with a $50,000 fine. I’m going to play. The quarter and a half I’m out there, I’m going to play like a monster. I might get into a fight with Bart Scott. [Antonio] Cromartie, we pretty much matured our relationship a little bit. We used to fight in Denver and San Diego. If that happens, it happens. We’ll see.”

Dolphins PR tried to end the interview twice with reporters, but Marshall -- god love him -- kept talking. According to reports, Marshall wasn’t upset or angry. He was matter of fact (which, when you think about it, might be the scariest part of all).

Coach Tony Sparano said he thought Marshall was half-kidding and that Marshall probably was referring to his passion as a pass-catcher and a blocker. But, um, I don’t know about that.

“Football for me has just been too easy,” Marshall said. “I’m saying that in a humble way, if that’s possible. I’ve been blessed with a gift. I’m not going to overthink this thing. I’m just going to go out there, play ball, play with passion, play with aggression out there. My goal is to get thrown out midway through the second quarter. Hopefully, I achieve that -- whatever it takes -- if that’s what I need to get the season going.”

Hey, whatever works.

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Posted on: October 10, 2011 10:06 am
 

John Fox needs to name a starting QB quickly

Posted by Will Brinson

Perhaps you've heard of the quarterback controversy going on in Denver right now? Yes, perhaps -- Tim Tebow entered the game against the Chargers yesterday and sparked the offense, the fanbase, nearly led the team victory, and warranted many a smart media person (such as my colleague Clark Judge) to anoit him the obvious starter.

Head coach John Fox hasn't named a starter yet, and while I might not necessarily agree with rolling Tebow out there, I do think it's absolutely necessary that Fox name a starter quickly.

The Broncos have their bye coming up and travel to Miami after that for a very winnable matchup against the struggling Dolphins, which is why if Fox is going to go Tebow, he needs to go Tebow ASAP.

Two weeks from now, the Broncos will actually play another game. That means that for nearly 14 consecutive days, everyone in and around the Denver sports media world will be asking Fox about his starting quarterback, and making reference to "The Tebow Thing."

In fact, it will be as suffocating and grating for Fox as it probably was for Kyle Orton during every day of work leading up to Sunday's benching.

Then there's the matter of the matchup -- Miami is, last I checked, in the state of Florida. That's the same state of Florida where Tebow played his college ball, and the same state of Florida where he's a cultural icon.

Starting him, if that's the move Fox is making, would almost absolutely mean homefield advantage for the Broncos when they head east. Plus, it would allow the team to start making contingency plans for Orton, who'll be a free agent after this year.

There's little question he's bolting Denver first chance he gets, and if Tony Sparano can convince his bosses to still make a deal, it's hard not to think that the Dolphins, having lost starter Chad Henne for the season, would at least offer some reasonable compensation for 10 weeks of Orton.

In that sense, it behooves Denver greatly to make a firm decision now, and stick with it.

Mike Klis of the Denver Post believes that Fox will indeed act quickly, selecting Tebow as his starter as soon as Tuesday.

If that's the case, it's impressively fast, a wise move by Fox, and a pretty clear-cut indication that he's ready to see what the future might hold for Tebow as Denver's quarterback.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com