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24 posts from December 2012

December 17, 2012

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 60.5%

[1) It is MONDAY, DECEMBER 17. Find our main Dolphins-Jaguars game post directly below in the blog. 2) Thanks to all of today's participants in our Live Blog Q&A/Chat. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Saban: I picked Brees over Culpepper, then...: Alabama coach Nick Saban said just now on 790 The Ticket that, while Dolphins coach, he chose Drew Brees over Daunte Culpepper but that Brees then failed a physical so he had to opt for Culpepper. 

Click on Small Opponent, But Big Win For Tannehill, Dolphins for my column off the game.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter, and they sow 60.5 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 24-3 home victory vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars putting Miami' season record at 6-8. 1aa1dsmThe DSM, in its fifth year, is continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Polls never close (you may still vote), but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2012 Dolfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 17.2% (4.4-v, 12.8-s) following 30-10 loss at Houston.

G2: 90.6% (47.1-v, 43.5-s) following 35-13 victory vs. Oakland.

G3: 43.8% (7.2-v, 36.6-s) following 23-20 loss (OT) vs. N.Y. Jets.

G4: 67.4% (18.3-v, 49.1-s) following 24-21 loss (OT) at Arizona.

G5: 93.1% (43.9-v, 49.2-s) following 17-13 victory at Cincinnati.

G6: 96.7% (52.2-v, 44.5-s) following 17-14 victory vs. St. Louis.

G7: 98.3% (80.9-v, 17.4-s) following 30-9 victory at N.Y. Jets.  

G8: 66.9% (21.3-v, 45.6-s) following 23-20 loss at Indianapolis.

G9: 17.3% (3.4-v, 13.9-s) following 37-3 loss vs. Tennessee.

G10: 12.0% (4.2-v, 7.8-s) following 19-14 loss at Buffalo.

G11: 81.3% (25.5-v, 55.8-s) following 24-21 victory vs. Seattle.

G12: 37.0% (6.3-v, 30.7-s) following 23-16 loss vs. New England.

G13: 18.8% (2.7-v, 16.1-s) following 27-13 loss at San Francisco.

G14: 60.5% (13.5-v, 47.0-s) following 24-3 victory vs. Jacksonville.

Next poll: Dec. 23 following game vs. Buffalo.

Previous final season results for overall satisfaction:

2011: 34.9%

2010: 3.8%

2009: 31.2%

2008: 96.9%

Live Blog Q&A/Chat No. 13 has ended. Next chat: Dec. 31 (I think; stay tuned)

[1) It is MONDAY, DECEMBER 17. Voting continues in our latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll in blogpost directly below this. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote].

LIVE BLOG Q&A / CHAT TODAY 1-2 P.M.: Live Blog Chat No. 13 is right here today from 1-2 p.m. Click on "Comments" below to join in. Today's menu: Dolphins' win, Heat, Canes, me, radio, you, this blog, national sports, serious stuff and, as always, et cetera. See you at 1.

December 16, 2012

G14: Dolphins 24, Jacksonville 3 (Final): Tannehill's 2 TD passes lift Miami past Henne, Jags; Perfect Season team takes 40th anniversary curtain call

[1) It is SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16. Hearts still ache and reel over this week's massacre at a Connecticut elementary school. The cowardice of the shooter will live in infamy. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: Voting now underway!: Voting is underway in the newest DSM in a separate blogpost directly above this one.

Club marks 40th anniversary of Perfect Season: The biggest applause during halftime introductions, by my ear, in order, were for Don Shula, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Mandich (posthumously), Larry Little and Nick Buoniconti. It was the latest curtain call for the 1972 Dolphins team that went 17-0. Click on Family for today's latest column by me, an unabashed appreciation of what that season meant to Miami and, more than that, what the Dolphins mean to so many in South Florida.

Click on Small Opponent, But Big Win For Tannehill, Dolphins for my column off the game.

G14: JACKSONVILLE @ DOLPHINS: Final: Weak opponent, yes, but an all-round solid effort by Dolphins. Tannehill with his best game statistically as a pro, Bush over 100 yards rushing today and Hartline tops 1,000 yards receiving for the year. As for defense? Well, a TD-shutout is big no matter the foe. Miami now 6-8. ..... 4Q: Henne-to-Shorts 4-yard apparent TD pass for Jags is negated; Shorts did not have both feet in bounds in end zone. Then 4th-down pass is knocked down by Cam Wake. ... Tannehill to Fasano for 2-yard TD pass and 24-3 lead after same two combo'd for a 2-point conversion toss. ... Dolphins defense stops Jags on 4th-and-1 from Miami 15. ..... 3Q: Carpenter 31-yard FG for a 16-3 MIA lead just before end of third. Tannehill's 30-yard run helps set it up. ... Reggie Bush busts a 53-yard run, leads to 30-yard Carpenter kick and 13-3 lead. ... Miami should be up 13-3 after a short, gimmie FG but is not because a fake-FG failed when holder Brandon Fields (the punter) launched a pass way out of the end zone. ..... Half: Perfect Season team being honored; see above. ... Not much offense by Miami with 110 total yards, but it's been enough so far thanks largely to a Jax TD negated by a penalty. ..... 2Q: Miami with first lead of game, 10-3, just inside 2-minute warning on Tannehill 4-yard strike into end zone to Javorskie Lane. ... Dolphins make 4th-down stop as Jags eschew FG try, so no harm comes of turnover. ... What a lucky break for Miami! After Jags recover a Tannehill fumble on sack at Miami 20, a 20-yard Henne TD pass is negated by an illegal substitution. ..... 1Q: Creepy inflatable Dolphin doin' it Gangnam style during timeout. Any diversion will do, thanks. ... This game is living up (down?) to expectations. ... Dolphs knot it 3-3 on Carpenter 53-yard kick, after 3rd-down incompletion that Tannehill should have thrown better but Matthews perhaps should have caught. ... Jags hit first, up 3-0. Henne 38-yard completion leads opening Jags drive capped by 37-yard FG. ... The pregame moment of silence for the Connecticut school massacre was one of the quietest, and most emotional, I have ever experienced. ..... Original post: The Jaguars are 2-11. Miami is 5-8. May I be frank? Only fans of either 1aa1doljagteam or those betting the game would watch this. (I don't even include the fantasy factor, because if your team made the fantasy playoffs chances are your roster includes few if any Dolphins or Jags). For me, about all that compels here is the quarterback subplot: the largely symbolic duel of rookie Ryan Tannehill and ex-Dolphin Chad Henne. I say symbolic 1aa1hennetan 1aa1hennehenbecause nothing will be proved or refuted no matter what happens or who performs better. But you can bet Jeff Ireland will be looking for somebody to high-five if Tannehill looks and plays decisively better than Henne to further justify the club's decision and direction at the most important position. This would be another very good day for Tannehill to be very good. Aside to Ryan: Don't wanna be pushy, but you last threw two TD passes in a game on Oct. 14. Tick-tock. Too much to ask? My pick: Dolphins: 24-13.

Radio, then blog: I'll be yakking Dolphins nonstop on the 790 The Ticket pregame show starting this morning at 10 a.m. Ears welcome. Then I'll be right back here at kickoff for our Live Boutique Blog.

December 14, 2012

SI's disservice to UM, Al Golden and truth; plus NFL predix (Dolphins roll), Heat Big 5 @ 20, RG3's blackness, Dog Court & more

[1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15. Condolences for the victims and loved ones of the awful Connecticut elementary-school shootings yesterday. So, so sad. Click here for Pres. Obama's statement from the White House. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Aquinas rules state: Congrats to St. Thomas Aquinas for bring the state title home to the 954. Love the name of quarterback John O'Korn. O'Korn! Now it's your turn, Miami Central and Cypress Bay. Love the local schools.

Dolphins rule 2 prominent starters out injured: WR Davone Bess (back) and LB Koa Misi (ankle) will miss Sunday's game, the team announced.

REMEMBER WHEN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED WAS ABOVE RUMOR-MONGERING?: I always hesitate to comment negatively on fellow media, and so rarely do. But all of us (me included) have had instances worthy of dubious scrutiny, and that transparency -- the idea that we are not above a microscope -- is a foundation of building trust with readers. In that spirit I would lambast what happened with Sports 1aa1algoldenIllustrated senior college football writer Pete Thamel and Twitter. He wrote that Hurricanes coach Al Golden had "emerged heavily" at Wisconsin and was "mulling a decision today." The strong implication was that Wisconsin was trying to lure Golden from UM and imminently might succeed. Thirty minutes later a second Thamel Tweet read, "Just got word that Golden is flattered [by the interest] but staying at Miami." A UM spokesman called the Tweets and what they implied "preposterous." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Golden was never a candidate at Wisconsin. Golden has said repeatedly he is staying at Miami. He faces legitimate brush fires, such as guys leaving early for the draft and a player's arrest this week in a laptop theft. And he faces a full-out blaze in the coming NCAA sanctions in the Nevin Shapiro mess. It's enough he must recruit against this stuff. Must he also recruit against continued rumors and speculation when all he has said is that he's staying? Here is all I ask both as a journalist and as a reader: Next time some media outlet leads me to believe Golden may be leaving, it had better be something that once was the media's strock-in-trade but increasingly feels quaint: Facts. The truth.

NFL PREDIX: DOLPHINS WILL (HAD BETTER) TOP HENNE, SAD JAGS: Not too many Sundays lately find 1aa1fripixMiami a clear favorite in the NFL. This is one. Dolphins should beat Jacksonville with some ease. An interesting subtext will be the QB duel between ex-Dolphin Chad Henne and rookie Ryan Tannehill. Click on Week 15 Gems for all of our latest NFL predictions. And on The Darkest December for our Friday Page column leading with the league's roughest two weeks in memory.

DEATH, TAXES, LEBRON AND KOBE: Predictable as sunrise, the NBA announced that LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are running 1-2 in early fan voting for the NBA all-star game. It is yet another sign that the post-"Decision" backlash against James from 2010 continues to fade by degrees to nonexistence except perhaps in stubborn rogue outposts in and around Cleveland.

HEAT BIG 5 @ 20: The blog loves bells 'n whistles especially of the nerdy-stat variety and so this sason 1aa1heat5we started this new one we are running throughout Heat season at five-game intervals. It's a top-five cumulative ranking of the players having the biggest overall impact this season based on eight statistical categories. We continue with The Big 5 @ 20 Games (14-6):

Rank (@15)   Player   Total

1 (1)   LeBron James   731.9

2 (2)   Chris Bosh   539.5

3 (3)   Dwyane Wade   432.7

4 (4)   Ray Allen   345.9

5 (5)   Mario Chalmers   293.7

Bubble: Shane Battier, 195.7

LET RG3 BE HIMSELF. PLEASE?: [Update: Parker has been suspended by ESPN] Rob Parker, black sports columnist for ESPNNY.com appearing on ESPN's First Take, said of Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III: "He's black, he does his thing, but he's really not down with the cause. He's not one of us." Really? What cause is that, Rob? Because I sort of think he's doing quite well with the cause of helping the Redskins win and turning around a franchise. What must he do to suit your view of blackness, Rob? Adopt hip-hop slang? Wear a dashiki over his uniform? Even Stephen A. Smith was taken aback, saying Parker's comments made him uncomfortable. Let RG3 be himself because that, by most accounts, seems like a pretty wonderful thing.

Poll result: Spoof on Serena Williams was harmless fun: Caroline Wozniacki stuffed her shirt and skirt with towels to mimic Serena's full, buxom figure during a recent exhibition in Brazil. Some saw it as racist. But our readers sure  didn't. We asked in the previous blogpopst and 88.9 percent called it harmless fun. Only 6.0% called it racist or poor taste,with another 5.1 % undecided.

1aa1dog1IF I WERE A CANINE COURT JUDGE...: We recently lost our great dog of almost 16 years, Sandy. She led a wonderful life and made ours better. I love dogs, know dogs, and therefore I would make a good Canine Court judge. I realize that dogs have a capacity for shame and embarrassment, and that is why the "punishment" pictured struck me as funny and earned a pass-along.

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

December 11, 2012

Spoof of Serena Williams: Racist or fun? (w/ poll, vid); plus Dolphins' No. 1 draft pick revealed (quack!), 12-12-12 concert, Heat critics, Golden angry, Herald building & more

[1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13. Hope y'all had a happy 12-12-12! 2) A high-school girls' basketball team, Bloomington South of Indiana, won a game, 107-2. Yes, one-hundred and seven to two. If coach Larry Winters also teaches at the school, I'm guessing what he teaches isn't sportsmanship. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Dolphins-Jags on local TV: Club just announced, early evening today, that Sunday's Dolphins game here would be televised locally.

WOZNIACKI LAMPOONS SERENA'S FULL FIGURE: RACIST OR FUN?: I find this interesting. I find anything interesting when two people can view the same thing and see it so differently. Caroline 1aa1carolineWozniacki, former world No. 1 tennis player, this week had some fun at the expense of reigning WTA player of the year Serena Williams during an exhibition match in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Wozniacki stuffed her shirt and skirt with towels (pictured) to impersonate the buxom figure of Williams. Click here for the video. Some in the Twitterverse are outraged; others see it as harmless fun. I lean toward the latter (hard to offend me), but also see the sensitivity. Does it matter that Wozniacki and Williams are friends? Does it matter how Serena reacts? (She has not commented). Should it be a factor that Williams herself makes frequent reference to her buxom top and full bottom? What if another black woman had done the spoof instead of Wozniacki? Part of my thought here is that Wozniacki was not making fun of a physical deformity but rather offering a caricature of a figure that many and perhaps most find quite appealing. Certainly debatable, though. Your thoughts welcome. Vote in our new poll and say why.

A FIERCE-DEFENDING LEBRON TELLS WADE'S DOUBTERS TO BE QUIET: [Heat lose last night at home to Golden State. Looks like it's going to be one of those seasons. Dramamine, please] Original post: Just two games ago Miami had embarrasingly lost at awful Washington then been routed at home by New York and the critics were out. 1aa1big2They were personified by professional blowhard Charles Barkley broadcasting that Dwyane Wade is "starting to lose his talent." Well, two games later Miami has beaten New Orleans and then impressively whipped a strong Atlanta team, 101-92. Wade in those past two games has scored 52 points on lights-out 20-for-25 shooting. Asked what that says, James said last night, "It means Charles Barkley needs to shut up." Wade had pretty much said the same thing, but with his actions, not words. LeBron -- as good a teammate as he is a player -- may have meant that "shut up" to encompass the Heat's critics in general, all of the ones who cower as if the sky were falling with any defeat. Yes, Miami has defensive issues (being addressed) and, no, Wade, turning 31 next month, isn't as consistently explosive as he was a few years ago -- especially because he is not yet fully recovered from offseason knee surgery. But the past couple of redeeming games have reminded us anew that doubters shall dismiss the champion Heat -- and D-Wade -- at their own peril. It happened that Jay-Z and Beyonce and Floyd Mayweather Jr. were prominently among the Miami crowd the last game, a sign that this Heat team is built for the occasion and can rise up and put on a show when it needs to. For me, Miami continues the NBA favorite to repeat. And Wade, despite the occasional mortal night, continues an essential piston in the engine.

ON THE 12-12-12 BENEFIT CONCERT: A wonderful benefit, Sandy relief, and a starry lineup of acts. Thought it was mostly all good but the negative that stood out, for me, was that The Who and Kanye West were on stage for way, way too long. Get the hook!

GOLDEN FUMING OVER LATEST PLAYER ARREST: Cornerback Thomas Finnie's arrest in a campus laptop theft has left UM football coach Al Golden "very angry," we've been told by an associate who has spoken 1aa1finnieto Golden since the arrest. "Al understands that you lose some kids early [to the NFL], but he doesn't get that you lose other guys because of dumba-- stuff like this," said the source. "It's just ridiculous. Anytime. But especially now." The Hurricanes, of course, await an NCAA Notice of Allegations at any moment in the Nevin Shapiro case. UM's institutional control over its athletes (or lack thereof) is part of the case, which is probably why Finnie (pictured) was immediately and indefinitely suspended. His UM career may be over. (Ever notice that "Finnie" and "finished" are almost the same word?) Dear UM Athletes: This is a particularly bad time to act like a dumba--. Yours is not a coach in the mood. Behave, please. Go to class and do not get arrested. Too much to ask?

GOODELL'S EMBARRASSMENT: This week's overturn of those Saints players suspensions in the Bountygate matter socks NFL commissioner Roger Goodell with a major embarrassment. It also would clearly seem to strengthen Jonathan Vilma's defamation suit against Goodell. This whole issue is a permanent stain on the commissioner's reputation and resume.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: Sort of positive news both ways... NFL predix: We went 11-5 overall and 8-6-2 against the spread last week, including an Upset of the Week bull's-eye with Vikings over Bears ("Aawwk!") and and other outright upset hit with Cowboys over Bengals. The two ties were a Packers push and Chargers-Steelers off the board when I played it. Greg's Lobos: My fantasy team ended a sad, 4-10 non-playoff season on the upbeat with a 98-88 win, though I had nobody top the critical 17 points I got from Andre Johnson Monday night. We'll get 'em next year. Well, probably not. But we'll say we will!

1aa1dionjDOLPHINS' 2013 NO. 1 DRAFT PICK IS...: ... a Duck! Quack. Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan (pictured) will be the guy, according to ESPN's Todd McShay in his new Mock Draft 1.0, for what it's worth. McShay predicts Jordan goes to Miami 12th overall. I think Miami would prefer a receiver or cornerback but would look for a pass-rusher as the third option if no WR or CB of sufficient value is available.

Poll result: Starks, Hartline top Dolphins free agents fans most want back: We asked in a previous blogpost which of seven top Dolphins free agents-to-be you most want back, and the leaders were DT Randy Starks (26.6%), WR Brian Hartline (25.4) and CB Sean Smith (19.6). I was somewhat surprised RB Reggie Bush (13.5) and OT Jake Long (10.3) did not fare better. S Chris Clemons (2.7) and TE Anthony Fasano (2.0) trailed badly.

ON 1 HERALD PLAZA: Miami's historic preservation board voted 5-3 Monday to not designate the iconic Miami Herald building (pictured) as a protected landmark. That's too bad, but I say that mostly from a 1aa1heraldsentimental perspective, I suppose. I spent many a year on the fifth floor of that place, back before laptops made "going to the office" largely counter-productive. I don't know whether the preservation-board's decision is right or wrong. But I know this: It isn't the vote of those five people that doomed this building and will see it demolished. That implosion was set in motion the moment the Herald's parent company, McClatchy, sold the building and property to Malaysian casino operator Genting as the newspaper prepared to downsize to a smaller building elsewhere. If there is any decrying going on, it must start with McClatchy's sale to Genting, the major domino that tipped and led to Monday's vote.

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

December 10, 2012

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 18.8%

[1) It is MONDAY, DECEMBER 10. Find our main Dolphins-49ers game post directly below in the blog. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G13: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter, and they show 18.8 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 27-13 loss at the San Francisco 49ers putting Miami' season record at 5-8. 1aa1dsmThe figure includes a season-low of only 2.7% calling themselves "very" satisfied. The DSM, in its fifth year, is continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Polls never close (you may still vote), but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:15 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2012 Dolfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 17.2% (4.4-v, 12.8-s) following 30-10 loss at Houston.

G2: 90.6% (47.1-v, 43.5-s) following 35-13 victory vs. Oakland.

G3: 43.8% (7.2-v, 36.6-s) following 23-20 loss (OT) vs. N.Y. Jets.

G4: 67.4% (18.3-v, 49.1-s) following 24-21 loss (OT) at Arizona.

G5: 93.1% (43.9-v, 49.2-s) following 17-13 victory at Cincinnati.

G6: 96.7% (52.2-v, 44.5-s) following 17-14 victory vs. St. Louis.

G7: 98.3% (80.9-v, 17.4-s) following 30-9 victory at N.Y. Jets.  

G8: 66.9% (21.3-v, 45.6-s) following 23-20 loss at Indianapolis.

G9: 17.3% (3.4-v, 13.9-s) following 37-3 loss vs. Tennessee.

G10: 12.0% (4.2-v, 7.8-s) following 19-14 loss at Buffalo.

G11: 81.3% (25.5-v, 55.8-s) following 24-21 victory vs. Seattle.

G12: 37.0% (6.3-v, 30.7-s) following 23-16 loss vs. New England.

G13: 18.8% (2.7-v, 16.1-s) following 27-13 loss at San Francisco.

Next poll: Dec. 16 following game vs. Jacksonville.

Previous final season results for overall satisfaction:

2011: 34.9%

2010: 3.8%

2009: 31.2%

2008: 96.9%

Live Blog Q&A/Chat No. 12 has ended. Next chat: Dec. 17

[1) It is MONDAY, DECEMBER 10. Voting continues in our latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll in blogpost directly below this. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote].

LIVE BLOG Q&A / CHAT TODAY 1-2 P.M.: Live Blog Chat No. 12 has concluded. We do it every Monday from 1-2 p.m. Click on "Comments" below for a transcript of today's exchange. See you next Monday.

December 09, 2012

G13: San Francisco 27, Dolphins 13 (Final): Not enough offense, key mistakes bury Miami

[1) It is SUNDAY, DECEMBER 9. You may still vote in our Dolphins free-agency poll in blogpost directy below this new one. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote.

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: Watch for new poll beginning at 7:45 p.m.: Watch for the latest DSM in a separate blogpost beginning this evening at 7:45 p.m. sharp!

G13: DOLPHINS @ SAN FRANCISCO: Final: Not enough offense, a few defensive lapses and one critical special-teams mistake by Thigpen doom Miami in a 27-13 loss. Game felt closer than the final score, but it is what it is. Dolphins 5-8. ..... 4Q: Game time. Frans up 27-13 with 2 minutes left as Kaepernick busts loose for 50-yard scoring run. ... Game time? Dolphins fail on 4th down in SF territory with 4 minutes left. Two straight passes, receivers getting separation on neither. ... Dolphs 7 down with 5:45 left and the ball. You in the mood to be a hero, Tannehill? ... Miami within 20-13 mid-quarter on Tannehill-to-Fasano 4-yard scoring pass. Great diving catch in corner of end zone by Fasano, one of best plays I have seen him make. ... Frans up 20-6 after Dixon 1-yard TD run. ..... 3Q: Niners knockin' on the door as quarter ends. ... Miami within 13-6 on carpenter 53-yard beauty. Thigpen (partly) atones with 56-yard kick return to help along the score. ... Dolphins now down 13-3 on Gore 1-yard TD run set up by Thigpen muffed punt that gave Niners ball first and goal. Thigpen cracks this game open with a huge error. ... Misi injured for Dolphs. ..... Encouraging. Half: Encouraging. Stout defense and Tannehill (10-for-14) is sharp. Still wouldn't fancy a Miami win, but Dolphins have showed up big. ..... 2Q: Frans up 6-3 on Akers 37-yard FG on last play of half, after Wake's second sack. ... Dumb special-teams mistake by Freeny on costs Miami about 18 yards. ... Game at 3-3 after Akers 30-yard kick. Dolphs forced a FG when Dansby stuffed Gore on 3rd and short. Stout overall performance by Miami so far. ... The good news? MIA up 3-0 on Carpenter 28-yard kick. The bad news? Dolphs were knockin' on the TD door but got stymied when LT Jonathan Martin had a false-start penalty and got steamrolled for a sack. ..... 1Q: Miami threatening as quarter ends. ... punts on first possesssion but saw some positive signs from offense: A deep route (complete to Hartline) and Bush on the receiving end. More, please. ... Dolphins force Niners punt on game-opening series. Rattling Kaepernick a key for Miami to have a shot today. ..... Original post: Well this is the city and the opponent you probably don't want to visit 1aa1dolsan3 1aa1dolsan4if yours is a struggling offense as Miami's currently is. The Dolphins have averaged a meager 15.4 points per game during the 1-4 slide that has dragged the season mark to 5-7 and left playoff hopes on life-support. Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill has hit a lull, and now left tackle Jake Long is lost for the rest of the 1aa1dolsan 1aa1dolsan2season. All of this makes for a tough, tough challenge against a 49ers defense that leads the league in fewest points allowed and brings the NFL-leading sacker in Aldon Smith. Not since the opener at Houston have I felt less optimistic about a Dolphins victory. I do think Miami's defense can keep the game inside the 10-point spread. The best upset hope is probably rooted in young Frans QB Colin Kaepernick being forced into mistakes. Miami will need a turnover-free game, solid special-teams play and a couple of defensive takeaways to have a real shot. [Pictured: 49ers vs. Dolphins QBs, then and now: Joe Montana vs. Dan Marino, to make you weep with nostalgia, and Tats Kaepernick vs. R.T.] My pick: 49ers, 23-14.

Join us right back here at kickoff for our Live Boutique Blog. You bring the chips and firecrackers. I got the Pabst Blue Ribbons on ice.

December 07, 2012

Free advice: Which free agents-to-be should Dolphins most want back? Poll. Vote!; plus Heisman, NFL predix, wakeup call for embarrassed Heat & more

1aa1hannukah 1aa1lennon[1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8. A happy start of Hanukkah to our Jewish friends. And a fond appreciation of John Lennon, 32 years to the day since his murder. 2) Congrats to St. Thomas Aquinas, Miami Central and Cypress Bay for big football wins last night. 3) Did you remember to remember Pearl Harbor yesterday? 4) Have a feeling Marquez finally will beat Pacquiao tonight in Vegas. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

FREE ADVICE: TELL DOLPHINS WHICH OF THEIR BIG 7 FREE AGENTS YOU MOST WANT BACK: Seven prominent Dolphins starters (four on offense, three on D) will be free agents when their contracts expire after the season. Personnel lord Jeff Ireland is using the final month of the season to decide which if any he wants back, which if any he most wants to re-sign. Help him. Tell him. The team's Big 7 free agents-to-be are listed alphabetically in this poll. I know: It's tough to choose just three. For me, I'd count Clemons and Fasano at the bottom but consider all of the other five desirable to have back. How about you? Vote for the three (3) you most want back and say why.

YEAR OF THE WEIRD HEISMAN VOTE: The 78th Heisman Trophy is given tonight in New York and the 1aa1heismanthree finalists -- Kansas State QB Collin Klein, Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o -- make for a strange ballot and possible historic result. Klein, as a senior quarterback, would be the safest vote and most traditional winner, but he is seen as the underdog. The co-favorites would make history: Manziel as the first-ever freshman to win, and Te'o as the first linebacker to win and first defender of any kind since 1997. I'd like to see Te'o win but think Manziel will. But here is a real possibility: If enough voters can't bring themselves to vote for a defender or to anoint a freshman, Klein could win almost be default. Should make for a more interesting than usual Heisman announcement.  

NFL PREDIX: TALLEST TEST YET FOR DOLPHINS: Sunday's game in San Francisco looks like the 1aa1fripixunlikeliest victory yet for Miami, exceeding even the opener at Houston. Cannot see a struggling Dolphins offense doing much against an excellent Niners D. Click on Week 14 Gems for all our latest NFL predictions. Click King Sport Three-Quarters Awards for our Friday Page column. Is it time to start thinking of Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck not just in the rookie of the year race but also as league MVP candidates? Getting there.

HEAT, THIS IS YOUR WAKEUP CALL: Interesting week for the Heat. First Miami becomes the first NBA defending champion to lose to a team with as awful a record as the Wizards. Then last night Miami 1aa1lbjsuffers its worst home loss of the Big 3 era with all three playing, allowing the Knicks 18 3-point baskets. I think this twin embarrassment could be the double-slap this team needed. Coach Erik Spolestra admitted last night, "We need to address our defense." LeBron James (pictured) acknowledged, "We need more sense of urgency." They also need more D-Wade, more Chalmers and better defense -- perimeter to rim. Early December is way too early to panic, yes. But the national media is just waiting for the chance to portray the Big 3 Heat as a collapsing one-hit-wonder that won't repeat. More weeks like this one will open that floodgate.

MORE ON THE FIU/CRISTOBAL DEBACLE: Speculated frontrunner Butch Davis has indicated he is not interested in replacing wrongly fired Mario Cristobal at FIU. Just as well. Davis would be a recycled older coach who'd consider the school beneath him. What FIU needs is a young, talented, energetic coach who wants to be here, somebody like, well ... like Mario Cristobal! (I wonder if AD Pete Garcia is figuring out that he made a really bad mistake?)

Poll result: Go, Irish! (But not by a landslide): We asked in the previous blogpost if you are rooting for Alabama or Notre Dame in the Jan. 7 BCS National Championship in Miami, and the Fighting Irish won with 60.3 percent to the Tide's 39.7.

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

December 04, 2012

Cristobal screwed by FIU; plus 'Bama-Notre Dame (w/ poll), the problem with the Heat, Philbin's rookie mistake, more Marlinsry, final SOPY rank & more

[1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6. Tonight's NFL pick is Broncos (-10 1/2) over Raiders, 34-16. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

CRISTOBAL WRONGED BY A DISLOYAL A.D.: College athletic directors who are impatient or ineffective 1aa1cristobalor both can be funny to observe. Funny as in sad. Take FIU's Pete Garcia. What is he thinking in firing football coach Mario Cristobal? A year ago Cristobal (pictured) deservedly gets a four-year contract extension because he has led FIU to its first winning seasons, to consecutive bowl games, to a small but growing place on the sport's national map. Cristobal is The Hot Young Coach, pursued by others (Rutgers, Pitt) but loyal to FIU and his home town, Miami. Wednesday, after a losing season fraught with key injuries, the mercurial Garcia showed everyone exactly what his loyalty looks like. Sad. Click on No Loyalty In Return for today's latest column by me.

THE LOVE-TO-HATE GLORY OF ALABAMA VS. NOTRE DAME: Oh what a perfect matchup Miami gets in the Jan. 7 BCS National Championship at Dolphins stadium. It is perfect for the right reasons: Two vaunted programs of the highest echelon of college football in terms of tradition and accomplishment. It 1aa1bcsevil 1aa1bcssatanis also perfect because both are love-'em or hate-'em programs -- adored by their legion of fans, despised by the nation at large. 'Bama is personified by Nick Saban, loved by the houndstooth hat crowd but so unlikable to others, especially in Baton Rouge and in South Florida, it seems. And Notre Dame ... where to start? They are the Yankees, the evil empire. Their fans act as if no other team matters. This is why I have coined this matchup Nick Satan vs. The Evil Leprechaun. Alabama is favored, but I'm asking here who you want to win, not who you think will. There is no category for "neither," sorry. So I challenge you to declare a rooting interest, or at least to choose based on which team you hate slightly less. Vote and say why.

PHILBIN WRONG ON CAM WAKE, PERIOD: Dolphins are trying to stop the Patriots and save their chance of winning Sunday. It is late in the fourth quarter. And Cam Wake -- Miami's best defensive player and premier sacker -- is not out there chasing Tom Brady because Wake is on the sideline. Watching. Wondering. Seething. Coach Joe Philbin was resting Wake (and Jared Odrick, too) related to some lame adherance to a snap count. Are you kidding me!? Rookie mistake, Joe. Please don't do it again.

Long on IR; so long, Jake?: Dolphins left tackle Jake Long's season is finished as he was placed on injured reserve last night with a torn triceps. I have my doubts that Long, a pending free agent, will be back with Miami. He has become injury prone. Is he worth the money he'll still command elsewhere in a desperate market? He is worth the franchise tag?

THE PROBLEM WITH THE HEAT: Last night's loss to a 1-13 Wizards team inspires the question. I seldom overreact about the Heat, mainly because I leave that to everyone else. Miami is 12-4. Nothing including last night says they don't stil have a big chance to repeat. Two problems, though. One is physical: The downturn in attention to defense. What once was "who we are" (Erik Spoelstra always said) has become an afterthought. Problem two is mental. The Heat has developed a tendency to slough by on autopilot for much of a game and then believe they can turn it on when needed. More of a front-to-back effort is needed. Can't just rely on the magic Ray Allen 3 at the end. "This ain't a lesson for us," LeBron James said of losing to the Wizards. Too bad. 

HEAT BIG 5 @ 15: The blog loves bells 'n whistles especially of the nerdy-stat variety and so this season 1aa1heat5we started this new one we'll be running throughout Heat season at five-game intervals. It's a top-five cumulative ranking of the players having the biggest overall impact this season based on eight statistical categories. We continue with The Big 5 @ 15 Games (12-3):

Rank (@10)   Player   Total

1 (1)   LeBron James   539.9

2 (2)   Chris Bosh   405.6

3 (3)   Dwyane Wade   314.5

4 (4)   Ray Allen   269.1

5 (5)   Mario Chalmers   239.8

Bubble: Shane Battier, 158.5

MARLINS' LATEST MARLINSRY: [Note: I have coined a new word: "Marlinsry." Marlinsry is the state or act of extreme frugality or cheapness] Quietly, the Marlins traded shortstop Yunel Escobar -- the only proven major-leaguer acquired in the recent salary-dump trade with Toronto -- to Tampa Bay for minor-league infielder Derek Dietrich. It was expected; Escobar came here as a temp. But it was expected because everybody knew the club would dump Escobar's salary, too. Miami Marlins: The Cheap Get Cheaper.    

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: The good, the bad and the ugly... NFL predix: This is the good. A solid week. Went 11-5 overall and 7-6-3 against the spread. That included an Upset of the Week bull's-eye on Redskins over Giants ("Aawwk!"), another outright upset call on Chiefs over Panthers, and three 'dogs with points (Seahawks, Rams, Eagles). Fantasy: This is the bad and the ugly. Greg's Lobos fell to a miserable 3-10 with a 149-101 loss. Never a good sign when your leading scorer is your defense (Texans, 22).

CANES' MORRIS WINS 2012 SOPY AWARD; FINAL TOP 10: This year our blog debuted the State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) standings, a weekly updated list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS schools: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Canes QB Stephen Morris wins. Our formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. We end it after every team has played its 12 regular-season games, so players in a conference-championship game or bowl do not have an unfair advantage. Now, the 2012 final SOPY Top 10:

Rank   Player, Team-pos.     Final 2012 SOPY Pts.

1. STEPHEN MORRIS, MIAMI-QB     1,900.5

2. E.J. Manuel, FSU-qb     1,868.5

3. Blake Bortles, UCF-qb     1,597.5     

4. B.J. Daniels, South Florida-qb     1,585.5

5. Graham Wilbert, FAU-qb     1,585

6. Jake Medlock, FIU-qb     1,395.5

7. Mike Gillislee, Florida-rb     1,316

8. Duke Johnson, Miami-rb     1,244

9. Latavius Murray, UCF-rb     1,233

10. Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb     1,229.5

Others over 1,000: Mike James, Miami-rb, 1,119; and William Dukes, FAU-wr, 1,003.

Final State of the State rankings: 1. Florida (11-1); 2. FSU (10-2); 3. Miami (7-5); 4. UCF (9-3); 5. South Florida (3-9); 6. FIU (3-9); 7. FAU (3-9).

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