GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is SATURDAY, JULY 20. Happy birthday, Miami! The vibrant heart of South Florida turned 121 on Friday. 2) It's Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins-biggest-star poll, Juventus-PSG tops Wonderful Wednesday in soccer & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.
My new Dolphins column: Higher hopes, higher heat: Going from good to great is harder than going from mediocre to good. That is the Dolphins' challenge as 2017 training camp unfurls. I explore in my latest column. Click on The Uncommon Pressure On the Miami Dolphins to read.
BARCELONA BEATS REAL MADRID 3-2 IN EL CLASICO THRILLER IN MIAMI: After Juventus' enthralling 3-2 win over Paris Saint-Germain in the ICC/Miami appetizer, Barcelona vs. Real Madrid rolled out tonight and lived up to billing in a 3-2 Barca win fueled by an early goal from Lionel Messi. The Rock was filled beyond capacity with 66,014. No Ronaldo. But he missed a hell of a game in the rivals' historic first-ever game on U.S. soil. Click on Ronaldo Missed a Heck Of a Show for my column from El Clasico. My three columns previously on Miami's biggest soccer week ever: Juventus, PSG Entertain As Decisions Loom (From Wednesday night's 3-2 Juventus win) / It Began With An Accidental Infatuation (On how this week in Miami began in '70s with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer) / World-Sized Spectacle (Putting in perspective the magnitude of Miami hosting El Clasico, the first-ever Barcelona-Real Madrid match held in U.S.
WHAT? NATIONAL RESPECT!? DOLPHINS' 'OFFENSIVE ARSENAL' RANKED NO. 3 in NFL: Because it's summer and because ESPN loves lists, the network's Bill Barnwell ranked the 32 NFL teams based on "offensive arsenals," which he defines as running backs, wide receivers and tight ends, not taking into account quarterbacks, linemen or offensive coaching. Well, he has the Dolphins rated No. 3 overall, trailing only (of course) top-ranked New England and runnerup Pittsburgh. Barnwell lists Miami's "headliners" as Jay Ajayi (pictured), DeVante Parker and Jarvis Landry. His synopsis of the Dolphins: "It has almost become a parody, but there's a staggering amount of potential among the Dolphins' collection of skill-position talent. There's not a more exciting trio of young receivers in the game than Landy, Parker and Kenny Stills, each of whom are 25 or younger. Parker might loom as the most devastating of the three, and if he takes a leap forward in his third season, it's hard to figure out how anyone is going to cover these guys. Miami got lucky at running back, where it sensed some weakness and tried to sign C.J. Anderson to a hefty offer sheet in March 2016 before bringing Arian Foster in over the summer. The Broncos matched Anderson's offer and Foster retired, turning the job over to Ajayi, who announced his arrival with back-to-back 200-yard games against the Steelers and Bills before putting up a third 200-yard game against Buffalo in December. Ajayi was a little more dependent upon big plays than you might like, but there's still a starting back here with plenty of upside. If coach Adam Gase can get something out of [tight end] Julius Thomas, who scored 24 touchdowns in two years for him in Denver, this offense could be unstoppable. They're not all going to break out unless the Dolphins get to play with two footballs, but there's so much talent to go around that Miami won't have to depend on any one player to have a big season." My take: The rosy outlook is justified, if Parker has the breakout year they hope, if Thomas doesn't revert to his 2016 Jaguars model, and, of course, if we see a solid Ryan Tannehill and a healthy O-line to help this "arsenal" shine. One other note to put Dolphins defense on alert: Miami will play six games against teams also ranked in this list's Top 10: Vs. No. 1 Patriots (twice), No. 4 Falcons, No. 7 Chargers, No. 8 Raiders and No. 10 Buccaneers. Find Barnwell's complete list here.
POLL RESULT: LANDRY EDGES SUH AS DOLPHINS' BIGGEST STAR ENTERING 2017 SEASON: We asked, "What current player is the Miami Dolphins' biggest star entering the 2017 season?" and, among five finalists, you anointed receiver Jarvis Landry in a fairly close vote over runnerup and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Those two were a level above. Further down but bunched very close were, in order, quarterback Ryan Tannehill, running back Jay Ajayi and defensive end Cameron Wake. Those five on the ballot split 97.03% of all votes cast, with 2.97% voting for "somebody else." Here are the complete results, with our brief commentary:
1. WR JARVIS LANDRY / 30.93% -- Consecutive Pro Bowls as an offensive playmaker and 288 catches in three seasons will win you attention, and fans. Landry also is out front about embracing stardom. He has his own website, his own clothing line emphasizing his nickname, Juice. Winning even a little unscientific blog poll like this would please him.
2. DT Ndamukong Suh / 22.88% -- The behemoth run stopper probably is the Fins' biggest star from a national vantage, and obviously big with Dolfans, too. But it's tough for a defensive player, particularly one doing the dirty work, to be seen as a bigger star than a uber-productive "glamour position" guy.
3. QB Ryan Tannehill / 14.83% -- In many or most instances an entrenched starting quarterback would have a leg up in a poll such as this, but Tannehill finishing a distant third only mirrors the continuing mixed or incomplete grades on him with many fans. He's liked, generally, but a long shot from earning "beloved" status. (And he was fifth in voting until a late bump).
4. RB Jay Ajayi / 14.41% -- Ajayi's 1,272 yards in a breakout season made him an instant and fast-rising star. His aggressive, quick-hit running style wins admirers, and the charisma needle move a bit, too. He has a flamboyance about him, and that British accent doesn't hurt.
5. DE Cameron Wake / 13.98% -- His long tenure in Miami and being second in all-time Dolphins sacks make Wake perhaps the team's most respected active player. Coming back from career-threatening Achilles surgery and still going strong at 35 gooses the admiration factor.
HOT BUTTON DAILY: SAT 7-29-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:
1. El Clasico Miami, 7:30 p.m.: It's Barcelona and Real Madrid (sans Ronaldo) at The Rock.
2. Cincinnati at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish on 6-2 run as homestand continues.
3. UFC 214, 10 p.m.: Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier for light-heavyweight title.
4. Dolphins training camp, underway.: Third of 14 open-to-fans Davie practices.
5. FINA World Championships, 2 p.m.: Major swim meet from Hungary.
Select other recent columns -- Blockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for Riley (on Kyrie Irving-to-Heat possibility). Paroled But Not Free (O.J. SImpson). Don't Hold Your Breath (LeBron/Wade return to Miami. An Ageless Wonder, Even In Defeat (Venus Williams' Wimbledon run). Also: All-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era Ebbs. The Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our Thanks. Heat Lose Twice On Hayward. Bam Is Due Benefit Of Doubt. Make Fun of the Farce, But You'll Watch. No Parade In Sight. A Fall From Greatness And From Grace. NFL's Moral Obligation. The Dolphins' Eight Ifs. Home Run For Miami. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose. An American Tragedy. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?. Thank You, Mae Riback. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past. The Miracle of Liberty City. Thank You, Edwin Pope.
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.