Tag:Tony Sparano
Posted on: October 9, 2011 11:34 am
 

Report: Dolphins gig Gruden's 'if he wants it'

Posted by Will Brinson

As of right now, the Dolphins are not prepared to make a change at head coach, and remain committed to Tony Sparano, despite their 0-4 start. It's going to be difficult for Sparano to keep his job, though. One, Miami might need to make the playoffs for him to get another shot in 2012. And two, owner Stephen Ross recently gave him the dreaded vote of confidence.

But who would be the replacement for Sparano if he's canned? Well, Dan Pompei of the National Football Post reports the No. 1 candidate is current ESPN broadcaster Jon Gruden, who's been out of coaching since the Buccaneers fired him in 2009.

"People close to the situation believe the Dolphins job will be Jon Gruden’s if he wants it," Pompei writes Sunday. "Gruden remains undecided on whether or not he will remain in broadcasting. It’s likely Stephen Ross will offer Gruden a sweetheart deal that will make it difficult for Gruden to turn down. Rumors continue that the Dolphins also will hire Carl Peterson as team president."

Gruden's always a top name at the list of coaching candidates when a vacancy opens up, along with CBS Sports' own Bill Cowher. That's what happens when you've got a Super Bowl win on your resume and aren't currently employed by an NFL team.

But Gruden does make sense for the Dolphins. He's obviously been successful, he's still young (only 48), he's a huge name and he's an offensive guru -- Ross hasn't made any bones about the need to put up points in order to help sell tickets. And, um, win games, of course.

What makes this hypothetical marriage interesting is that Gruden's unlikely to leave ESPN before the end of the season, even if Ross threw a pile of money his way. That could mean Sparano would get a full season to try and make the playoffs.

If he doesn't (a very likely outcome at this point), Ross will have a shot at a second-straight public courting of a high-profile coach, and Gruden will have a legitimately difficult choice to make.

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Posted on: October 6, 2011 3:06 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 5:09 pm
 

Dolphins ink Sage Rosenfels, Henne done for year

Posted by Will Brinson

Chad Henne hurt himself in a most unfortunate way against San Diego in Week 4 (a blown draw play that resulted in him diving up the middle for a yard or two) and reports started circulating that Henne suffered a separated shoulder.

Those reports are true, and the Dolphins announced Thursday that they placed Henne on injured reserve, thus ending his season. To make up for Henne's loss, the Dolphins have signed veteran Sage Rosenfels.

"Congrats to Sage Rosenfels who just signed with the Miami Dolphins," Rosenfels agent, Rick Smith, tweeted Thursday.

Rosenfels was on the Giants injured reserve with a blood illness of sorts, and hasn't thrown a regular-season pass since 2008. Which means that, yes, Matt Moore will remain the starter in Miami.

That the Dolphins were able to get Rosenfels to pass his physical is good news -- they were turned down by some not-so-elite quarterbacks like Jake Delhomme, David Garrard, Trent Edwards and Brodie Croyle.

None were interested, but the NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora notes that it may have simply been a financial issue -- Miami only wanted to offer Garrard $600,000 with no money guaranteed.

So, yeah, the Dolphins at 0-4 find themselves in a pretty bad position without their starting quarterback. Although not having a good signal caller under center isn't exactly new for them -- they've been missing a quarterback even since Dan Marino left.

"I can only look at the last three, four years," head coach Tony Sparano said Wednesday. "I don’t know about the last decade or anything like that. I just know about the last couple two, three years. We’ve had a couple quarterbacks in there. Obviously [Chad] Pennington, [Chad] Henne, Pat White, Tyler [Thigpen] ... we got a few different guys. As far as starters go it’s been Pennington and Henne. For us it’s been pretty consistent."

Sparano pointed out that he's been on the winless end of things this deep into the season before (when he worked for Marty Schottenheimer in Washington), but he wasn't the guy with his neck firmly on the chopping block.

Now he is, and without his starting quarterback, it's hard to imagine how he'll survive an already tepid start.

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 10:54 am
 

Henne to play after bye, Sparano needs playoffs?

Posted by Will Brinson

Last season, the Dolphins perplexed fans by failing at home and winning away from Sun Life Stadium. This year, there's nothing confusing about them -- they just can't win, and fell to 0-4 against San Diego yesterday as they head into the bye.

So there are some problems. Like, for instance, Tony Sparano canceling his Monday morning press conference because of something that involves a lack of time to watch the film from Sunday. Or something. But, reportedly, he's not being fired ... yet.

According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Sparano's job security hasn't changed from last week, even though Miami's winless and without a shot at picking up their first "W" this week.

However, Salguero's source told him that "the only way the coach can save his job on a permanent basis" is by getting the Dolphins to the postseason. Which is to say, well, Sparano's probably done.

Miami's not mathematically eliminated or anything quite yet, but they've got a serious uphill battle towards playoff contention. The Bills and Patriots are both 3-1 and the Jets are 2-2 so they're certainly looking a long ways up at even a wild-card berth.

Things get a little easier after the bye, as the Dolphins play the Jets, Broncos, Giants and Chiefs in the following four weeks. Losing three of those games would almost certainly doom Sparano though. Some good news: he may get his starting quarterback on the field for the first of them.

Chad Henne hurt his shoulder in the loss against San Diego, but insisted that he'd be back for the Jets game.

"I can rip this arm off, and as long as I can post the ball up I think I can play," Henne said, via Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post. "I've had shoulder injuries in college and high school and I played through it, so I expect to play through it again."

By the by, the play that Henne was injured on is almost too perfect -- Lex Hilliard didn't realize Henne was giving him the ball on a draw play, there was a pile of confusion, and Henne tried to take off up the middle on a blown-up quarterback sneak, only to get crushed and miss the rest of the game.

Matt Moore looked "poised" according to his teammates, which is nice, especially if Henne's incapable of playing, because Moore will be needed to suit up.

Although at this point, if the playoffs are what's required for the Dolphins to avoid owner Stephen Ross making it rain pink slips at Sun Life, it might just be six- or one-half dozen when it comes to who's taking snaps.


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Posted on: October 3, 2011 12:43 am
Edited on: October 3, 2011 1:36 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 4


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 4 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.



1. The bandwagon rolls on
On Sunday, the mojo disappeared for the Lions and they fell 24 points behind the Cowboys in Dallas, until Tony Romo decided to drag Detroit back from a lockjob of a defeat with a pair of pick-sixes that sparked a rally in which Matthew Stafford hit Calvin Johnson for two touchdowns and the Lions stunned Dallas 34-30 at Jerry Jones' palatial estate.

There are two ways to look at this. One, Romo is a choker again (more on that in a second) and Dallas stinks. Or, two, the Lions are very much for real. I'm inclined to believe the second narrative. So is Cowboys fan LeBron James.


I'm including this mainly because I find it absolutely hysterical that Ohio native James is a Cowboys fan. I'm sure it has nothing to do with bandwagons. But I'm also including it because James is right -- the Lions do "got swag right now."

This was mentioned after Week 2, when the Lions slammed a beatdown on the Chiefs, and it makes sense to mention now.

That's primarily because the Lions are 4-0 for the first time since 1980 and became the fourth team to start a season 4-0 a year after starting the season 0-4 since 1990. (The impressive nature of that turnaround aside, what a statement on the NFL's parity, huh?)

Take it back even further, and count preseason games and the Lions are on a 12-game winning streak, and once, again, appear to develop some of this attitude from their head coach.

"I'm glad the third best wide receiver on the Cowboys is on our team," Jim Schwartz said after the game.

Naturally you'll recall that Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan had some comments about the skills of Dez Bryant and Miles Austin versus Calvin Johnson before the game.

Schwartz' comments are a straight burn, of course, but it warrants mentioning that Dez did look otherworldly earlier in the game. But Megatron did some dirty things on his two touchdowns to the Dallas defensive backs. On the first catch, he went up in triple coverage and grabbed a ball that probably never should have been a score.

And on the second -- and most important -- score, Johnson scored when he was isolated in single coverage against Terrence Newman. Based on Ryan's theory, Newman's practice against Bryant and Austin should have prepared him for a one-on-one matchup at the goalline.

Unfortunately, Megatron's the biggest freak of nature in the NFL, arguably the best wideout in the league and slicing up some well-deserved humble pie for Ryan after the Lebowski look-a-like tried to put him in man coverage.

2. Hands on Necks
Obviously the Cowboys loss is going to be classified as a chokejob. And it should -- there's no way to classify it as anything other than that, especially when Romo packaged a pair of touchdowns and mailed it the Lions way.

"The games turn, obviously, on turnovers," Romo said. "It's the most important stat in the game. That's why you protect the ball. That's my No. 1 job and I didn't do a well enough job of that today."

The weird thing about the loss is that Dallas is now 2-0 in games where they were "gritty and tough and found a way to win" and 0-2 in games where "Romo peed his pants and threw terrible picks." Or something like that.

The point is that, yes, the Cowboys choked, but it wasn't even the worst choke on Sunday. And perhaps only the third worst -- Dallas was at least playing a very dangerous team in the Lions and even if the game was at home, we've seen Detroit do this before.

There's no real excuse for Buffalo, who was leading 21-3 against the Bengals on Sunday, to lose on a last-second field goal by Mike Nugent. Sure, it was in Cincy and, sure, it was the Bills and we should have seen something coming after buying in so heavily. But losing like that to a Bengals team with a rookie quarterback is just bad news Bears.

And yet it wasn't even the most embarrassing choke of the day. The Eagles deserve some, um, credit for their inability to hold off the 49ers in a home game where they led 23-3 as late as midway through the third quarter.

The Bills and Cowboys can at least hang their respective hats on records that aren't below .500. The Eagles have no such excuse and it's becoming increasingly clear why "offseason winners" isn't always such a nice thing to say about teams in the NFL.



3. Super Bowl champs remain under the radar

Thus far, the Packers have beaten the Saints, the Panthers, the Bears and the Broncos. It's not exactly a murderer's row of great NFL teams, but it's not the four-worst teams in the league either.

And they've looked outstanding on offense, compiling a league-high 148 points en route to a 4-0 record, and giving plenty of folks justification for selecting the Packers to repeat as Super Bowl champions in 2011.

Yet ... no one wants to talk about the success they've had this year.

This is partially because of the other storylines that are permeating the NFL this season, and partially because after last season's late run, we've come to expect this out of Aaron Rodgers and his outstanding teammates.

"Trust me, we don't have it all figured out as a football team," Mike McCarthy said Sunday. "We're 4-0, but we're very in tune with what we need to improve as a team."

The biggest issue is defense, clearly. While the Packers have arguably improved their running game from last year (James Starks looks like a legit back for their system, especially when it comes to melting the clock with a lead), the defense isn't the championship-winning caliber that showed up in the playoffs last year.

Both Kyle Orton and Cam Newton posted big numbers against Green Bay, and though there were some fantastic moments from the defenses in those games, it's difficult to justify any claim that the Packers defense is better this year than it was last year.

Having said all that, this team did a pretty good job of gelling at the right time last year, and they're off to a much better start in 2011. We should all take notice.

4. Hope you sick people are happy now
2011 has been a tough go for anyone who supports Arian Foster, whether it be Texans fans, fantasy owners or just, you now, nice people who care about other humans.

Fortunately, those people got some good karmic returns for their Foster love on Sunday, as he and the Texans took some punches from the Steelers and punched right back, eventually beating Pittsburgh 17-10 on Sunday afternoon. As my man Mike Freeman points out, everything about the win at Reliant Stadium on Sunday goes against the typical stereotype of Texans football.

More on that in a second, but first, Foster. When Gary Kubiak said he was going to bring Foster back against the Steelers, I thought he was insane. After all, the Steelers are (well, were) a top-10 rushing defense.

But Foster looked fantastic. He broke long runs, he showed tremendous burst through holes, when he got around the corner he was able to cut back upfield and pick up big yards and in general he looked like the 2010 version of himself.

"I go into every contest thinking that I'm the go-to guy," Foster said. "When the flow of the game starts going, we need certain things, and you've got to be there for your team."

Hamstrings are tricky, of course, and there's no guarantee that Foster's going to roll to another rushing title or anything. Plus, the Texans offense sputtered a bit (OK, a lot) after Andre Johnson left with a hamstring injury that really looked like a knee injury in the second quarter and that could be problematic going forward.

But at least for now, there's reason to think that the Texans offense can hop back up on Foster's back and ride him to a division title.



5. Sunday night monstrosity
The Ravens opened up on fire to begin the Sunday night game against the Jets, jumping out to a 27-7 lead before eventually winning handily. But, um, well, you see ... that was ugly.

Real ugly -- Joe Flacco limped his way to a 10 for 31 performance that generated 163 passing yards and an interception.

It would have been the ugliest performance on the field, but Mark Sanchez took full advantage of Nick Mangold's absence, and fumbled four times, three of which were lost, two of which were taken to the house by Ravens defenders and also threw a pick-six.

Things got so bad that, at one point, Rex Ryan called a timeout just to scream at the officials. It actually seemed to work, or it at least confused the Ravens and Cam Cameron, who took a 20-point lead with just a few minutes remaining in the second quarter and desperately tried to let the Jets back in the game.

That didn't matter, but it didn't make the performance of Sanchez, Flacco and their respective teams any worse or weirder. There were five defensive and special teams touchdowns in total during the game, most in NFL history and Sanchez' final pass (he finished 11 of 35, ugh) went off the heel of a defender.

What perplexes me isn't the Jets struggling, because, frankly, they were kind of due to regress a bit. I'm sure they'll start getting better, and they might start stopping the run (although I'm sure Cameron won't figure that out!) and running the ball better. They almost always do, just in time to claw their way into the playoffs.

The bigger concern is how the Ravens came out in Week 4, continuing the metronome-like performance for Flacco through a few weeks. At times (against the Steelers and the Rams) he's looked like an elite-level quarterback. And at others (Sunday and against the Titans), he's looked absolutely lost.

If he wants to truly "make the jump," he's going to need to find some consistency.

6. Goin' out east
There was no shortage of different predictions for the team that would win the NFC West. Well, except for the Seahawks. No one predicted that. The typical favorites were the Rams and Cardinals, mainly because of their quarterback play.

The 49ers should have gotten more love, but Alex Smith held them back, and Jim Harbaugh, in his first stop as an NFL head coach, is showing exactly why. His team managed to storm back against the Eagles on Sunday and move into first place in their division, with a firm command of the typically crappy NFC West.

San Francisco's 3-1, the Rams are 0-4 and the Seahawks and Cardinals are 1-3.

None of the teams out there have, unsurprisingly, looked very good. And the 49ers are the only squad with a positive point differential, which should tell you just how bad this division is. Again. But maybe Harbaugh is the difference -- look no further than his decision to house his team in Ohio for half a week in between their Week 3 game against the Bengals and Sunday's win in Philadelphia.

"Thanks Youngstown, you've been good to us," Harbaugh said in deference to Ohio. "That's as good a win as I can ever remember being a part of. I'm really proud of our players. They never flinched in a tough environment here, and there was no moment or circumstance that made them nervous in this ballgame. We kept fighting, made adjustments -- a great team victory for us."

Frank Gore gashed the Eagles for 127 yards, and Alex Smith played pretty inspired football, going 13 of 17 for 201 yards and two touchdowns in just the second half.

It's a surprising turnaround for a surprising team that stunk the joint out last year. Given the dearth of talent for Seattle, Arizona's inability to close out, and St. Louis' rough schedule ahead, Harbaugh might have this team -- surprisingly -- poised to take over their division.

7. Remember the Titans

Unless Tennessee has something to say about that anyway -- Mike Munchak picked up his third-career win on Sunday afternoon as the Titans vaulted themselves into a first-place tie with Houston in the AFC South

On The NFL Today, Charley Casserly mentioned that Matt Hasselbeck was drawn to Tennessee because of two things: Munchak's commitment to protecting the quarterback with strong line play, and Munchak's commitment to protecting the quarterback's ability to throw deep by leaving in more blockers.

This has paid tremendous dividends for Hasselbeck, who's eighth in the NFL in passing yards, sixth in passing touchdowns, third in yards per pass and first in pass plays of 40-plus yards.

"We thought he had a lot left in the tank from watching him in the playoffs last year," Munchak said. "We didn't bring him here to retire quietly. We brought him here to do exactly what he's been doing."

And he's casually doing all of this while playing for a team that doesn't have a viable No. 1 wide receiver because of Kenny Britt's season-ending injury last week.

Chris Johnson finally managed to get going a little bit in the Week 4 win over Cleveland, and provided the Hasselbeck can stay healthy (which is somewhat of a stretch, but possible), the Titans might be the surprise playoff team that no one's talking about.



8. Pay the man!
Just like 2010, Mike Martz refused to run the ball until the Bears met up with the Panthers early in the season. And just like 2010, Martz got enough criticism for his playcalling that he ran the ball a ton against Carolina. And just like 2010, Matt Forte went HAM.

Last year it was 166 rushing yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns. This year it was a career-high 205 rushing yards on 25 carries and a touchdown in the Bears 34-29 win.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons. One, the Bears are 9-0 when Forte rushes for 100 yards or more. Yet ... they don't like to run. Two, the Panthers defense is absolutely terrible. I could put up a hundo on them, and it shouldn't be too huge of a shock to see him go key largo against Carolina's beat-up defense.

That being said ... three, Forte wants a new contract, has wanted a new contract but can't get the Bears to even talk to him about getting more money.

The result, predictably, is a running back who appears to be playing with a great deal of intensity and a desire to be highly productive. Of course, for all of Forte's success against the Panthers, there wasn't that much to love about the way Chicago played. Just don't tell Lovie Smith that.

"We’re not apologizing at all about this win," Smith said. "We feel really good about it."

They shouldn't, even if this year suddenly looks like last year in terms of figuring out to run the ball and not get Jay Cutler killed. Cam Newton did a lot of damage to the Bears defense, though he made some rookie mistakes, and the Panthers were able to run pretty easily on Chicago.

Anyone can score on the Panthers, and do it at will, given the lack of depth they have on the defensive side of the ball right now. That being said, it sure does seem like the Bears might have saved themselves some money if they'd gotten Forte some cash before the season rather than waiting.

As my college football colleague Tom Fornelli likes to say, "Pay the man, Chicago."

9. Review Controversy
Could the NFL's current replay system be any less controversial? As you likely know, all scoring plays are reviewed by a booth official. That sounds simple, but it's not at all -- we've already had plenty of problems with plays that seemed like obvious needs for reviews that weren't scrutinized further by the officials.

Sunday, we saw two more examples. First, there an issue in the Chiefs and Vikings game.

With 5:01 remaining, Michael Jenkins caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb. It appeared, pretty clearly, that he only got one foot inbounds. Fox didn't show any replays of the catch, and the officials at the game never reviewed it. Ultimately, it didn't matter, because the Vikings lost.

But it could have mattered and there wasn't anything Todd Haley or the Chiefs could do to get the play looked at. If Haley had thrown a challenge flag, he'd have been flagged for a delay of game penalty.

Another less controversial instance occurred during the Packers-Broncos game when Aaron Rodgers rushed for his second touchdown of the day on a third down. Rodgers was ruled down at the one-yard line, though replays showed he broke the plane of the goal line.

Mike McCarthy challenged and the Packers were given a touchdown that locked in their win against Denver. Here's the problem: "a scoring play" is only defined as a play in which the officials subjectively rule that a touchdown has happened. If that subjective ruling occurs, then the play is automatically reviewed.

If it doesn't happen, coaches are required to use a challenge.

I realize that the league can't challenge every single play that gets close to the end zone, but it seems to me that these two plays aren't that different. Something was botched by the refs and the booth wasn't available to make sure the right call was locked in. Ironically, in the non touchdown scenario, the coach has more freedom to help out his team with a red flag.

Even if the booth doesn't believe that a call should be looked at by the ref -- and in a close game like that, who's hurt by double-checking? -- there should be an option for a coach to take a stab at having a call overturned as well, if he's really adamant about what happened.

And, of course, there's the whole mess that went down in Arizona with Victor Cruz giving himself up and/or pulling the old stumble-->fumble disaster combo.

That actually seems like it was interpreted correctly, as it relates to the rule book.

"Official shall declare ball dead when a runner declares himself down by falling to ground or kneeling and making no effort to advance," reads Rule 7, Section 2, Article 1(e) of the NFL Rule Book.

In other words, it's a subjective call by the guys who look like zebras. If they believe Cruz gave himself up, then he gave himself up and that's the end of it.

10. Maybe they ARE the NFL's Heat

Whenever something good or bad happens in sports, reporters inevitably ask athletes how they feel. No, I don't know why it happens all the time either, but it rarely produces a good result.

It got a decent reaction out of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick on Sunday, though, as he expressed a high level of frustration at the fact that the Eagles just choked away a huge lead against the 49ers -- at home, no less -- that eventually led to a 24-23 loss to San Francisco.

"Do I really have to explain how I feel right now sitting here at 1-3?" Vick asked. "It's frustrating. It's tough. I can't put that in words. I take sole responsibility. Maybe it's a lot of things I can do better. And I gotta figure it out.

"It's frustrating. I'm not going to continue to use that word, but, yeah, it's tough."


That's the thing with the Eagles, though. It's not all Vick's fault.

Is some of it? Sure, of course. But he was 30 of 46 for 416 yards and two touchdowns Sunday. A bigger problem is that he led the team in rushing, with 75 yards on eight carries. When you have a weapon like LeSean McCoy, it seems silly not to utilize him more.

Then again, the lack of a good push from the offensive line causes that too.

And when you can't stop other teams from running the ball, none of it really matters. Frank Gore gashed the Eagles for 127 yards on just 15 carries and Kendall Hunter picked up 38 on nine.

The Eagles might have some really, really talented players at a couple positions, but they're also really, really weak at other positions, and their depth just isn't that impressive at all.

So, come to think of it, maybe they're more like the Miami Heat than any of us could have ever known.

Muffed Punts
Leftovers from Sunday's action ...
... What the hell was Ronnie Brown thinking? He's not even a quarterback, so trying to throw the ball while being tackled at the goal line doesn't even work as a random logical excuse.
... Johnathan Joseph had two -- TWO! -- touchdowns nullified by stupid penalties by the Texans. First there was the ridiculous block in the back by Danieal Manning when Joseph took a blocked punt to the house to end the half. And then there was the pick six he grabbed to close out the game that was negated by a J.J. Watt penalty. Welcome to Houston!
... Speaking of picks, Vince Wilfork now has two on the season after his second career INT against the Raiders.
... Just for trolling purposes: Nnamdi Asomugha only has one interception on the year.
... In one of the more insane things ever, Rex Ryan used a first-half timeout on Sunday night just to yell at the officials.

Worth 1,000 Words



Jim Irsay Pop-Culture Referencing Tweet That's Sure to Drive Colts Fans Insane of the Week
"I woke up in a So Ho doorway ... a policeman knew my name."

"Who Are You" is actually a pretty good thing to ask the Colts quarterback, no?

GIF O' THE WEEK



Hot Seat Tracker
  • Tony Sparano: It would almost be an upset if he made it past the bye at this point.
  • Jack Del Rio: Very impressive that JDR figured out a way to make Maurice Jones-Drew completely ineffective during the first half of a game that was pretty closer during the first half.
  • Leslie Frazier: It might only be his first year, but looking terrible against a terrible Chiefs team ain't helping his cause. 
  • Todd Haley: Can Minnesota visit every weekend?
  • Juan Castillo: New guy for the Eagles, their defense is a leaky ship and someone needs to take the fall.
Chasing Andrew Luck (All odds mine)
We have a new entrant in the usual suspects who are searching for the answer to their franchise woes -- the St. Louis Rams! Heretofore unlisted in this space, the Rams are 0-4 and now squarely in the hunt for Luck, even though they could get to 0-7 and somehow still win their division, based on how easy their schedule is.

What I find fascinating about this is that the Rams and Vikings, my two current faves for Luck, both drafted a "franchise quarterback" in the past two years. Would the Rams consider acquiring Luck if they got the No. 1 overall pick again? Or is Sam Bradford just that much better? Would both they and the Vikings just absolutely trade the pick to whoever was desperate enough for Luck? Because I'm not so sure.

Vikings (2:1) -- Can't imagine they actually feel like Christian Ponder's better than Luck. Right?
Dolphins (2:1) -- As AJB points out below, Miami definitely deserves inclusion here. My bust. Was too worried about Sparano's job.
Rams (3:1) -- So spicy if they get it.
Colts (3:1) -- They'd be the favorites if/when they lose to Tampa on Monday.
Broncos (4:1) -- Stanford, everyone!
Panthers (5:1) -- Fairly confident that the Panthers would acquire some assets for that pick.
Eagles (10:1) -- Andy Reid does love quarterbacks ...

MVP Watch
Stafford, my leader up to this point, did some nice things Sunday. But after Rodgers did the dirty things -- six touchdowns! -- that he did to Denver and helped propel the Packers to 4-0, it's hard not to sit up and take notice and admit that right now he's the best quarterback in the NFL.
Posted on: October 2, 2011 11:25 am
 

With Thomas out, Slaton will get a chance

SlatonPosted by Josh Katzowitz

With Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas out with a bad hamstring for today’s game in San Diego, it seems like some pretty good foresight from Miami to have signed the recently-released Texans running back Steve Slaton. Though Slaton was done in Houston, stuck behind Arian Foster, Ben Tate and Derrick Ward, he still has promise.

In his 2008 rookie season, he rushed for 1,282 yards and nine touchdowns, and though he’s been limited the past few seasons because of injuries (and because of Foster’s production in Houston), the Dolphins obviously saw something they liked in Thomas (perhaps to the detriment of current Dolphins back Reggie Bush?).

What they liked, well, coach Tony Sparano isn’t sure yet. He’s only seen him practice twice, after all.

“I see a young player that has good upside and I think that’s a good quality to have here at that position," Sparano said, via the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

After a slow start to the season -- he missed the season opener because of the same hamstring injury -- Thomas has rushed for 202 yards in the past two games, and he’s shown why Miami thought highly enough of him to take him in the second round of the 2011 draft. Sparano has said Bush is still his No. 1 guy, but Slaton, if he’s feeling healthy, could make a mark as well.

"Since my rookie year," Slaton said. "I feel about the same."

By that, he means he feels good. But with the absence of Thomas and cornerback Vontae Davis, who will miss his second-straight game with a hamstring injury, the Dolphins will have a tough time traveling to San Diego to face the Chargers. Even with a newly-charged Slaton in the lineup.

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Posted on: September 28, 2011 7:01 pm
 

Dolphins claim Steve Slaton off waivers

SlatonPosted by Josh Katzowitz

It didn’t take long for former Texans running back Steve Slaton to land on his feet with a new team. As Rapid Reporter Chris Perkins writes, the Dolphins have claimed Slaton off waivers, meaning Slaton -- waived on Tuesday -- was only unemployed for a day.

It also means he joins a Miami backfield in which rookie Daniel Thomas has looked good rushing for 202 yards in the past two games and Reggie Bush seems to be slipping down the depth chart after fumbling twice last Sunday.

Slaton had a standout rookie season, rushing for 1,282 yards and nine touchdowns, but he’s been bothered by injuries the past few seasons. But if he’s healthy, he certainly could help complement Thomas.

And what does the signing say about Bush’s future with the team? Maybe nothing and the Dolphins took the opportunity to sign a still young running back who obviously has plenty of talent. Or maybe Miami took a look at the fact that Bush has rushed for 80 yards in three games (and totaled 72 receiving yards) and determined he’s not helping the offense quite as much as he should.

That said, we should point out that coach Tony Sparano said Monday that Bush is still the No. 1 running back. Still, the signing of Slaton probably doesn’t leave Bush feeling completely secure in Miami.

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Posted on: September 28, 2011 1:43 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2011 1:51 pm
 

Where could Les Miles land in the NFL?

Posted by Will Brinson

When the CBSSports.com NFL newsletter landed in my inbox Wednesday, I thought there had to be some kind of mistake. After all, the topic was Les Miles, and he has nothing to do with the NFL, except that he coaches guys who will end up playing there.

As it turns out, my man Mike Freeman's excellent 10-Point Stance column was about Miles and how he's the "most intriguing coaching prospect" that one team exec has "seen in a long time." WUT?

Les Miles? Really? Because, um, yeah, that doesn't make sense.


Whatever, Miles is wacky but he wins a lot, so at some point, NFL teams will be interested. Let's run through some of the usual suspects -- teams who stink this season and/or teams that are always considered possibilities for head-coaching candidates -- and discuss whether or not they're viable candidates.

Miami Dolphins: Tony Sparano's seat is arguably hotter than anyone else in the NFL right now and he's got games coming up against the Chargers and Jets. Not being 0-5 would be an accomplishment if that tells you anything about where this season is going for the Fins. There's a good chance he doesn't make it through the season. So would Miles work?

Well, Stephen Ross wants to add some spice to Miami's public persona, and Miles would definitely do that. But is he gonna sexy up the offense? I'm not so sure -- LSU currently ranks 98th in the NCAA in passing yards and 48th overall in rushing yards. In 2010, Miles' team totaled 2,023 passing yards, which is like a September for Tom Brady. The most passing yards while Miles has been at LSU came in 2007, when Matt Flynn led the team with 2,407 yards and the Tigers totaled 3,154 yards for the season.

Oh, and there's this little bit of history -- remember the last time the Dolphins decided to go out and hire a championship-winning coach from LSU? That worked out superbly for them, and I can't imagine that there's a whole lot of love in South Beach for the Tigers coaching tree.

Kansas City Chiefs: There's a pretty good chance Todd Haley's gone by the start of next season, but is this the spot for Miles? Perhaps not -- after all, Scott Pioli's likely to get one more chance at hiring a coach he wants, and you can all but bet that he'll go off the Belichick tree.

Miles doesn't fit that role and it makes no sense for Pioli to really put his neck on the line by trying to bring in a college coach who isn't necessarily guaranteed to buy into his personnel system.

Dallas Cowboys: This isn't to even suggest that Jason Garrett's on the hot seat. He's not. But as Freeman wrote, people think Miles might be the "next Jimmy Johnson," and he coached in Dallas.

So did Miles, though he showed up to Big D after Johnson was gone and only coached tight ends there.

Still, Jerry Jones is always a guy that people associate with "big names" and he's the last guy to have success with a college coach who jumped up a level.

Oakland Raiders: Hue Jackson's doing a great job by the bay, but if a name is out there, he's going to get mentioned with Oakland, because that's how these things work. Plus, you never know if 2011's rendition is going to fall off a cliff or not. They are, after all, the Raiders.

But Miles has tremendous job security at LSU right now, and as we mentioned in the Miami section, he doesn't exactly fit the mold of what Al Davis wants in terms of chunking the ball down the field. Although he does coach in the SEC, so maybe the speed correlation works.

Indianapolis Colts: OK, so we've figured out that Miles isn't going to be a great offensive guru or anything, right? Well, this might actually make sense -- there's little in the way of requirement to be an offensive savant in Indy, as long as the Colts can squeeze three or more years out of Peyton Manning. He runs the system and Jim Caldwell just stands there.

Miles' biggest hair-pullers come on the offensive end of things in crunch time, and it would be a non-issue with Manning on the field. Additionally, he'd make the Colts substantially better on special teams and on defense, right off the bat, even if the personnel might need some revamping. He's a Michigan man and born in Ohio -- Indianapolis is less than a five-hour drive from both.

The Colts will be coming off a terrible season after 2011 and that means better resources to invest in future talent; Indy's a team that could nab the first-overall pick in the draft and somehow still remain a decent team.

Would it be a departure from the modus operandi of the Colts? Definitely, but there's a good opening to bring in a fresh face for 2011, and they seem to have less chance of having Miles' quirky traits, lack of offensive ingenuity and poor clock management implode on them than anyone else.

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Posted on: September 26, 2011 1:10 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 1:13 pm
 

Report: Tony Sparano won't be fired this week

Posted by Will Brinson

Tony Sparano isn't in the safest of spots -- the Dolphins are 0-3 and though they looked quite potent on offense against the Patriots, they still lost. Since then, Miami's lost two more games and remains the only AFC East team with a losing record.

There's little question that Sparano's seat is warming, but Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that Sparano won't be canned this week.

"No, nothing’s happening," Salguero's source told him when asked if there were changes coming to the coaching staff.

Salguero also says that Sparano's job is "100 percent safe" right now. But that's right now, and it could absolutely change by the time Miami returns home in three weeks.

Plus, if someone is saying "he won't be fired this week" about you, you should already be aware that the safety surrounding your job is tenuous at best.

The Dolphins head out to San Diego in Week 4, take their bye in Week 5 and then travel to New York to play the Jets in Week 6 on Monday Night Football. If things have gotten worse for the Fins by that point in time and they wake up on October 18 (Tuesday) at 0-5, the percentage chance that Sparano is good to go gets a lot lower a lot quicker.

Stephen Ross' one request this year was that Miami's offense get ramped up and go vertical. After Chad Henne's 400-yard game against the Patriots on the opening week  of the season, things looked like they were going well.

In the two weeks since then, Miami's offense has sputtered, producing just 19 total points against the Texans and Browns. Though Miami is middle of the pack in total yardage (387.7 yards a game, 13th in the NFL), passing yards (258 per game, 15th in the NFL) and pretty good at running the ball (129.7 yards per game, seventh in the NFL), Daboll's O ranks 27th in the NFL in scoring now with 17.7 points.

And in the NFL, where the goal is to outscore your opponents, if you're not getting in the end zone, you're probably not going to win many games. If that happens often enough, your job will be in danger.

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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