September 05, 2013

It's Upset Bird Day in America! Dolphins, NFL Week 1 predix; plus Stephen Ross poll & more

1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 6. I read that Le Batard from now on will hardly be writing for the Herald except when he wants to. Sort of like now. 2) Holed up today in the Random Evidence Dungeon concocting the Sunday notes column. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron's new TV show, debut of SOPY rankings, your grade on my fantasy team, Upset Bird Countdown & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird) and Vine (Greg Cote).

Pick for FIU home opener: It's tonight. Not convinced Orlando's UCF is all that special, but looks like it doesn't take special to beat the '13 FIU Panthers. My pick: UCF, 37-17. 

UPSET BIRD DAY: WEEK 1 PICKS FOR DOLPHINS, NFL: The mayors of several prominent Miami-Dade cities have officially declared today Upset Bird Day. OK, no they haven't. But only because they're all in 1aa1birdujail. Today of course marks the start of my 23rd season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald. Click on Week 1 Gems for the complete game-by-game capsules, and on Sorry, Houston for my accompanying NFL column outlining my division-by-division forecast and Super Bowl pick. The Friday Page unfurls with good news and bad news for the Dolphins. Strange as it sounds, I have Miami losing its opener Sunday at Cleveland, yet making the playoffs as a wild-card. I split last night's Kickoff Weekend opener in Denver. I had the Broncos beating the Ravens, but not covering the 7.5-point line. Nobody likes a showoff, Peyton. Geez.

ON STEPHEN ROSS, HIS STADIUM AND MICHIGAN: I admire billionaires who are generous and philanthropic. Bill Gates shares his wealth; Donald Trump, not so much. Maybe that is why they are held in such different regard. In that spirit I applaud Dolphins owner Stephen Ross for his $200 million 1aa1rosssdonation this week to his alma mater, the University of Michigan, a record donation for the school. Cynics always go straight to "tax write-off." Fine. It's true that when the legalities are worked out this will end up costing him considerbaly less than 200M. But he's still donating a ton of money that he didn't have to. What interests me the most in this is that his donation comes just weeks after Ross fought so hard in a losing battle to gain public funding for about that same amount of money for renovations to Dolphins stadium. Hmm. Half of me still applauds Ross, but the other half wonders why he doesn't just pay for his own stadium improvements. He'd get the money back, after all, because a franchise with a modernized, Super Bowl-attracting stadium is more valuable than what he has right now. Anyway, the poll is food for thought. Vote and say why.

1aa1nevermoreUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 1 DAY: [From Thursday] The Upset Bird and I kick off our season of Friday NFL prediction pages 1aa1birduthis week -- Sept. 6, tomorrow -- and we began a 10-day countdown honoring outstanding notable birds. Today, at 1 day, we save the best for last and shine a reverent light on the mystical Nevermore, the mysterious namesake from Edgar Allan Poe's classic 1845 narrative poem, The Raven. This was inevitable, of course. The Upset Bird finds his heroic inspiration, his very muse, in Poe's talking blackbird. One said, "Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore'." The other said, "Aawwk!" Different times, same idea.

Ravens-Broncos Thursday night pick: Make it Denver, 31-27 tonight, with Baltimore beating the 7 1/2-point line but not the opponent. Click HERE for our introductory and full predix capsule, a morsel of an appetizer for our Friday Page debut. [Broncos won, 49-27]

Thursday state FBS-school pick: FAU at East Carolina. My pick: East Carolina, 34-17. [EC won 31-13]

I'M NOW 'VERIFIED' ON TWITTER: There is no way to mention this as an oh-by-the-way aside or 1aa1verifiedmention it at all without it seeming like bragging, so I'll admit it was a surprise and mini-cheap thrill yesterday to see that little blue Verified Account checkmark magically appear beside my Twitter name @gregcote. Didn't seek it. Can't explain it. Not sure what it does. The one drawback: Much harder now to say something stupid and claim it wasn't me.

THE LIST: HURRICANES VS. GATORS: The Miami-Florida rivalry by decades:

Decade    UM record / Coaches

1930s    1-1 / Harding

1940s    4-5 / Harding, Dunn, Gustafson 

1950s    6-4 / Gustafson

1960s    5-5 / Gustafson, Tate

1970s    3-7 / Kichefski, Curci, Elliott, Selmer, Saban, Schnellenberger

1980s    5-3 / Schnellenberger, Johnson, Erickson

1990s    0-0 / Erickson, Davis

2000s    4-1 / Davis, Coker, Shannon

Totals    28-26

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

August 24, 2013

PS4: Tampa Bay 17, Dolphins 16 (Final): Four turnovers doom Miami in sloppy dress rehearsal, but Tannehill-led positives outweigh negatives

1) It is SUNDAY, AUGUST 25. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes column, leading with the onset of college football and the Canes' opener. 2) Rachel Ray turns 45 today. Is there is max age for acceptable perky? 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins attendance surge, my White House visit, T.O. sues Drew, NFL award odds, Richie Incognito, coffee rage & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), on Instagram (Upsetbird) and on Vine (Greg Cote).

"Geno Smith three interceptions. Mark Sanchez hurt. I don't wanna say the Jets QB situation is pretty dire, but I just saw Joe Namath warming up."  --Greg Cote

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter note: We return for sixth season of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter polls appearing in the blog right after every Dolphins game. They begin with regular season, so watch for first DSM Sept. 8.

PS4: TAMPA BAY 17, DOLPHINS 16: FOUR TURNOVERS HAND GAME TO BUCS: FINAL: The good news? The Miami starters won the first half, the defense generally dominated and Tannehill looked pretty sharp. (Tanny has a 98.6 passer rating with zero picks in the preseason). The bad news? Much sloppiness from a team that has played one more exhibition game than other teams. Four turnovers were the difference, and five penalties and a handful of dropped passes didn't help. The offense stalling in the red zone also was an issue. I think this can be a playoff team, but Saturday's mistakes sinking the preseason mark to 1-3 does not feather those thoughts. That record isn't the concern; the turnovers are. Coach Joe Philbin was a bit harsh afterward, saying, "We didn’t play well enough at any phase of the game to win the game." Well, the starters did, so overall I'd give the performance a modest thumbs-up based on the first half when the real team was deployed. Share your own positives, negatives and overall thoughts coming out of the game. ..... 4Q: Devlin interception in closing seconds is fourth Miami interception and ends the loss. ... Dolphs give up lead with 1:03 remaining on 12-yard Mike Glennon to David Douglas scoring pass. The Gray fumble led to the score. DEMON TURNOVERS! ... Miami's third turnover of game is a Jonas Gray fumble returned 47 yards to Dolphins 25. ... Rookie Sturgis swings in a 28-yard FG for 16-10 lead after offense hits another stone wall in red zone. ..... 3Q: Uneventful third Q other than a couple of more defensive sacks and a long look at Devlin, who was 4-for-6 for 32 yards as team weighs whether to keep a third QB. ... Starters out, reserves in for Miami to start quarter, with Pat Devlin at QB aheda of backup Matt Moore. ..... Halftime: Miami's narrow lead does not reflect its dominance, with a 3-1 margin in total yards and all Tampa's points coming off two special-teams flubs. Tannehill a pretty sharp 17-for-27, with 12 of the strikes to primary wideouts Gibson/Hartline/Wallace. Clay only one short catch off six targets in his effort to mend the tight end position. Big story might be how Lamar Miller (8-35) seems to have seized the starting RB job over Daniel Thomas (7-3). Hope starters play at least a little into the third Q. ..... 2Q: Miami regains lead 13-10 just before half on Tanny 4-yard TD pass to Gibson. Play began near midfield with a fumble recovery by Derrick Shelby. ... Nice punt return isn't fully cashed in as Miami settles for 23-yard Sturguis FG and 10-6 score. Brandon Gibson dropped a shoulda-been TD pass in end zone. ... Olivier Vernon sack forces punt, Thigpen makes amends (somewhat) with 38-yard return. ... Charles Clay with a drop, Tanny takes a coverage sack, punt. ... Bucs 10-3 on Rian Lindell 38-yard FG, set up by Thigpen's goatdom. ... Again! Thigpen with a second turnover on a punt return. Dolphins defense is dominating but mistakes are steering the game. ... Jared Odrick sack and exultant Pee-Wee Dance forces punt. Score does not reflect Miami domination thus far. ..... 1Q: Tanny ends 7-for-10 in first Q. ... Just noticed Dolphins TV announcer Jesse Agler sometimes refers to regular seaseon as "the regular year." Stop that! It's Al Michael's phrase. ... Bucs 7-3 on a 1-yard Brian Leonard run, a score made easy by that muffed punt-return turnover. Turnovers are evil! ... Dolphs force punt but muff return and give it right back after botchery by Marcus Thigpen and blocker Nolan Carroll. ... Steady, impressive opening drive but it stalls in red zone and settles for 22-yard Sturgis FG and 3-0 lead. Ryan Tannehill 6-for-8, Mike Wallace 2 catches, Lamar Miller with a 20-yard run. ..... Original post: NFL teams call their next-to-last preseason game the dress rehearsal, in which starters play longer than usual, and so tonight's visit 

1aa1bucsdolsby the Buccaneers should give Miami fans their best look yet at the Dolphins, their best gauge yet. (It'll also 1aa1ps4be the first actual look, since this is the first home exhibition). Being the home debut and with the starters playing at least a full half, you can expect an emphasis on result (on winning) that you haven't necessarily seen in the first three fake games. Miami plays Tampa in the regular season, too (Nov. 11, there), so I wouldn't expect to see the full playbook, but winning will matter, especially against an opponent Miami should be better than. Individually I'll be looking at several key areas tonight and into next week as the preseason winds down: A continued growth of chemistry between Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace. Charles Clay stepping up as the tight end heir to injured Dustin Keller. Performance at left tackle and stability at right guard. Lamar Miller or Daniel Thomas showing something that demands they start at running back. And somebody besides Brent Grimes standing out at cornerback. Also waiting (patiently) for top draft pick Dion Jordan to get fully beyond his shoulder issues and be in a position to unleash that potential Miami thinks it saw.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS VS. STATE TEAMS: The Dolphins' won-lost records in their history vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars, including last night's game:

Opponent            Season    Playoffs  Exhibitions

Buccaneers          5-4           0-0        16-12  

Jaguars                3-2            0-1        6-4

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

May 15, 2012

Trouble visits the Heat postseason; plus battle of AFC East QB wives, J.J.'s honor, baby names & more

[It is Wednesday, May 16. R.I.P., University of Miami legend Don Mariutto, 81. 2) Just bought Jack White's Blunderbuss CD. Click Sixteen Saltines for a taste. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

G2: PACERS 78, HEAT 75: ANXIOUSLY, CAREFULLY, MIAMI ENTERS THE NO-BOSH ZONE WITH A CRUSHING HOME DEFEAT: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade with a combined 52 points and it isn't enough in the absence of injured Chris Bosh, because they other eight guys who played all pretty much stunk. Series now 1-1. Click on Here Comes Trouble for my column off the game. ..... Ronny Turiaf starting at center for Bosh. No surprise. Joel Anthony more comfy coming off bench. ..... Original post: Miami leads this second-round playoff series 1-0 but has such a lead ever felt more fragile? Heat must win at home again 1aa1heatpacerstonight or (heading to Indiana for a pair) it will feel something like the championship dream is collapsing. Click on Heat Vs. Adversity for today's latest column by me. Teams and injured players always try to 1aa1boshoutput the best face on their situation, so when Chris Bosh (pictured) all but acknowledges he wouldn't be ready to play until the next round, you wonder if even that if likely. Heat was only 4-5 without Bosh this season, but might Miami have to get past Indiana and the conference finals without him? Seems possible. And even if that happens and Miami reached the Finals sans-Bosh ... did you see how awesome Oklahoma City looked in crushing the L.A. Kobes last night! OK, deep breath. Getting ahead of ourselves. One game at a time, remember? Tonight we see how both teams compensate/adjust to the erasure of Bosh. Miami will need LeBron James/Dwyane Wade in attack mode, some 3's from Mario Chalmers/Mike Miller/Shane Battier, impact like in Game 1 from Ronny Turiaf/Joel Anthony and an appearance by a thus-far irrelevant Udonis Haslem. Heat also will need the defense we saw in the fourth quarter Sunday, especially against 7-2 Roy Hibbert. Erik Spoelstra isn't saying ahead of time but I'd bet Turiaf starts for Bosh tonight because Anthony is more comfy coming off the bench. Every game in a best-of-7 is huge but this one seems more so, like it will tell us where the series is headed.

1aa1gisellevogueURGENT GISELLE BUNDCHEN UPDATE: Dolphins fans surely will be interested to know that the wife of Patriots QB Tom Brady, model Giselle Bundchen, appears topless and sand-cheeked (right) on the 1aa1dolwifecover of the latest French Vogue. However, in a related story, the wife of new Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, Lauren (left) continues to be exceedingly cute in the perky style. "We will no longer take a back seat to any AFC East quarterback's wife in terms of hotness!" said Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland. (He didn't really say that. But wouldn't it be great if he did?)

REGGIE BUSH'S RUSHING TITLE: Dolphin Reggie Bsh says he wants to lead the NFL in rushing in 2012. I like the attitude. I don't like the chances. He'd be around 50-1 at best.

J.J. MAKES THE COLLEGE HALL: Jimmy Johnson, the 1987 UM 1aa1jjnational-championship football coach (pictured from back in the day), is one of 17 newest inductees to the College Football Hall of Fame. Well deserved, Jimmy! I covered J.J.'s 1984-88 years as a beat writer. Those were some wild days. That '86 team that lost to Penn State in the title game was (nevertheless) the single greatest college team ever in terms of NFL talent.

JACOB AND SOPHIA REIGN: Jacob continued the most popular American male baby name in 2011 for the 13th straight year, while Sophia ended Isabella's two-year reign among girls. Whatever happened to Bob and Mary? My own name, Gregory, checked in a rather embarrassed 279th. When I have time I'll look up the popularity rank of my own sons' names, Aardvark and Pinwhistle.

THE LIST: HEAT STARTING CENTERS: With Chris Bosh's injury putting the focus on the position, a sequence of Heat starting centers in season-openers through the years:

Player   Opening-night starts

Rony Seikaly   6 (1988-93)

John Salley   1 (1994)

Alonzo Mourning   5 (1995-96, '98-99, 2001)

Isaac Austin   1 (1997)

Duane Causwell   1 (2000)

Brian Grant   2 (2002-03)

Shaquille O'Neal   4 (2004-07)

Udonis Haslem   1 (2008)

Jermaine O'Neal   1 (2009)

Joel Anthony   2 (2010-11)

Check back. Will be updating and adding to this latest blogpost...