Quantifying Dolphins' top-talent shortfall (uh oh); plus the contrary case for Dolfans' optimism, Marlins get Francoeur, grade on Heat's summer, Peyton in pajamas & more
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 25. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins preseason thus far with poll, Race Of Champions coming to Miami, what really sank Ryan Lochte, KFC sunscreen & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Periscope and Snapchat.
Imagine if Dolfans were optimists right now: Preposterous, I know. But that is the premise of today's new column by me. Pessimism is easy. Optimism takes effort. Click on All The Things That Could Go Right to read our latest column in full.
Column six-pack: Six other select recent columns, ICYMI: The Real Olympic Ideal (it isn't gold medals). Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter (on new-name Hard Rock). Time for Baseball and Cooperstown to Reconcile With Banished Stars. The Weight Has Just Begun (inside the office and expectations of new Canes coach Mark Richt). A Chance for Football to Retake Miami (on Wade's departure from Heat). Ichiro!
QUANTIFYING DOLPHINS' TOP-TALENT SHORTFALL: As Miami prepares for its third preseason game tonight in Orlando, the dress rehearsal vs. Atlanta, ESPN.com this week is out with its annual Top 100 ranking of NFL players, and your Dolphins fared poorly with but one player mentioned, the guy over there. Meanwhile elsewhere in the AFC East there are 16 guys mentioned among the Patriots' seven, the Jets' five and the Bills' four. The division's Top 100 talent, according to the Worldwide Leader's panel of 50-plus King Sport experts:
Patriots (7): 3rd overall--TE Rob Gronkowski; 6th--QB Tom Brady; 50th--S Devin McCourty; tie-56th--OLB Jamie Collins; 89th--CB Malcolm Butler; tie-93rd--WR Julian Edelman; and 99th--OLB Dont'a Hightower.
Jets (5): 30th--CB Darrelle Revis; 32nd--DE Muhammad Wilkerson; tie-56th--WR Brandon Marshall; 65th--DE Sheldon Richardson; and 72nd--C Nick Mangold.
Bills (4): 79th--DT Marcell Dareus; 85th--CB Stephon Gilmore; tie-93rd--WR Sammy Watkins; and 97th--RB LeSean McCoy.
Dolphins (1): 25th--DT Ndamukong Suh (pictured). That's it, folks. I thought Jarvis Landry deserved a spot somewhere in lower 100. Reshad Jones might have, too, and thought even Cam Wake still might have snuck in. Alas, no. Only Suh. And he plummeted from a No. 4 overall ranking a year ago.
Also of note on the list: Former Hurricane TE Greg Olsen (Panthers) ranked 45th, ex-Canes DE Calais Campbell (Cardinals) ranked 66th; former Dolphin and Cane DE Olivier Vernon (Giants) ranked 91st; and ex-Dolphin CB Vontae Davis (Colts) ranked 96th.
Poll result: Preseason thus far has made Dolfans less confident, not more: We asked how the Dolphins' first two preseason performances have left you feeling about the team and season, and by a more than 6-to-1 margin it was "worse" (62.8 percent), not "better" (9.6%). The other 27.6% answered "no different."
HERE'S WHY MARLINS GETTING JEFF FRANCOEUR WAS SMART: Marlins last night acquired right fielder Jeff Francoeur (pictured) from the Braves, giving up a pair of minor leaguers. I like the now mentality; there is a wild-card playoff spot to be won. Francoeur, 32, is past his prime but not a has-been. Here's why I like the move: 1) There was a need, with Giancarlo Stanton out, and Ichiro better when used less. 2) Very good right fielder with big range and a strong arm. Has led NL in outfield assists five times and leads all active RF'ers in defensive double plays. 2) Can still hit. Last season and this one (a combined 619 at-bats), Francoeur has 20 homers, 29 doubles and 78 RBIs with a .258 average. Not great production, but not bad, either. And 4) Really positive veteran clubhouse presence for a young team in a stretch run. Good move, Fish.
RILEY SAID HEAT HAD A BAD SUMMER. CONFIRMED!: Pat Riley called it a "bad, bad summer for us." SI.com this week agreed, giving Miami a "D-plus" in its NBA offseason grades. The Heat held onto center Hassan Whiteside but not a lot else went right, from losing beloved icon Dwyane Wade to the continuing uncertainty over Chris Bosh to being forced to overspend to keep Tyler Johnson to failing to land the "whale" Kevin Durant. Franchise's summer might have been a "F," but at least none of Micky Arison's cruiseships sank. Pictured right, apropos of nothing, the Heat logo reimagined, via an uproxx.com redesign of NBA logos as hip-hop artists. Trick Daddy: Liberty City's own!
PEYTON'S STILL AN NFL STAR: Love the new DirecTV ads starring retired Peyton Manning, to the tune of Lionel Richie singing, "It's Peyton on Sunday morning," as our man walks around in his bathrobe doing menial chores. That HGH/Al-Jazeera controversy rolled off Peyton's back like water off a seal. Now, even in retirement, he's still a likable, lovable star in the buildup to this NFL season.
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