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Let’s start it off today with the Dolphins, who laid a HUGE egg in Buffalo this past Sunday, losing to the Bills, 29-10.
It was, to say the least, a bad performance by the "not-so new and improved offense”, who managed exactly 45 yards of offense in the first half of the game, and never got into Buffalo territory during the first thirty minutes of the game. The offensive line gave up three sacks in the first half, and did not allow Ryan Tannehill any time to throw the ball. When he did have time, he was all over the place, no accuracy and no sense of timing.
One telling and painful moment came with 2:20 left in the first half, and Miami down 9-0. With the ball at their own 12, and all three timeouts, the Dolphins basically surrendered and chose to run the ball six consecutive times, and go into the locker room. After the game, head coach Joe Philbin explained that he did not want to go into the half down 16-0. He instructed offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to run the ball and make adjustments for the second half.
That is total bullshit, Coach Philbin. Your team should have a two-minute offense that includes a change-of-pace from your standard offense. A starting QB in the NFL has to be able to direct a two-minute drill and move the ball down the field. Six straight runs to close out the half is simply pathetic. The only way you're going to figure out if Ryan Tannehill is the long-term answer at QB, is to let him play. Release the dog, and let him run freely and without restraints. He needs to show that he can win games, not just avoid losing games.
Tannehill’s first two games this season have been mediocre, not horrible. Check out the stats for these two QB’s, both of which are close to the bottom of the NFL quarterback rankings so far this season:
NAME ATT COMP % YDS YDS/A TD INT SACK QB RTNG
Ryan Tannehill 81 49 60.5 419 5.17 3 2 5 76.1
Tom Brady 78 44 56.4 398 5.10 2 0 5 78.9
The quarterbacks with lower QB ratings (in order) are Josh McCown, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Drew Stanton, Matt Cassel, and Alex Smith. The bottom line to look at here: this is only two games.
The New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts, two teams with Pro Bowl QB’s in Drew Brees and Andrew Luck, are both 0-2. Only 6 of the NFL’s 32 teams are 2-0. Two of the six unbeaten teams, Carolina and Philadelphia, have started two different QB’s in those games because of injuries.
The Fins will have to replace two starters immediately, as running back Knowshon Moreno and right guard Shelley Smith are going to be out for a while. Moreno is expected to miss up to two months with a dislocated elbow, and Smith is expected to miss two to four weeks after suffering a grade-two knee sprain.
The team re-signed running back Daniel Thomas to replace Moreno. Dallas Thomas will probably replace Smith on the o-line.
Back to the “not so new and improved” offense. One of the problems in implementing a new offensive scheme is that it takes time for players to learn it. They obviously are not fast learners. We also need to face the fact that Ryan Tannehill is NOT Peyton Manning.
Let’s not leave the defense and the special teams out of this. The defense was unable to contain an average QB in EJ Manuel and couldn't contain the running game or the receivers, especially rookie standout Sammy Watkins. I’m just babbling here, but I have to question why the Fins chose not to put their best DB, Brent Grimes, on Watkins the entire game. Grimes is the closest thing that the Dolphins have to a “shut-down” cornerback. If their best receiver beats my best DB, so be it. The defensive coaches may want to re-evaluate their thinking going forward.
The special teams gave up a blocked punt, a muffed punt-return, and allowed a 102-yard TD kickoff return to CJ Spillers. Those three special team gaffes cost 21 points.
The mark of good teams in the NFL is how they come back after losses. The Fins host the KC Chiefs at the Seven-Names Stadium this Sunday. The result of this game will speak volumes.
How did I do on my picks this past week?
Every week, I pick the nationally televised games, the Dolphin game, and at least 1 game at 1:00 pm and 1 game at 4:00 pm on Sunday. Usually, a total of seven games.
After a 7-1 record in week one (there were two monday night games), I decided to get cocky and pick six road teams in my seven games. Believe me . . . that is not a real smart move. Still, I came out of the week a winner, with a 4-3 record.
Winners and Losers highlighted
(HOME TEAM IN CAPS):
Steelers +3 over RAVENS
Dolphins even over BILLS
Patriots -3 over VIKINGS
Saints - 6 over BROWNS
PACKERS -6 over Jets
Bears +7 ½ over 49ERS
Eagles +3 ½ over COLTS
Again, a 4-3 record this week takes my season numbers after two weeks to 11-4 against the spread, 12-3 overall.
Here are all of last week’s game recaps and scores:
Thursday, September 11
Ravens 26, Steelers 6
Joe Flacco threw two TD passes to Owen Daniels, and Justin Tucker connected on four field goals.
Sunday, September 14
Bills 29, Miami 10
Sammy Watkins and CJ Spiller led the way with touchdowns. Spiller scored on a 102-yard kickoff return. Dan Carpenter added five field goals.
Panthers 24, Lions 7
Cam Newton came back after missing week 1 and led the Panthers on two touchdown drives in the second half. Carolina’s defense recovered two fumbles and had an interception.
Bengals 24, Falcons 10
Andy Dalton threw for 252 yards and a TD, and the Cinci defense intercepted three Matt Ryan passes.
Browns 26, Saints 24
Billy Cundiff’s 29-yard field goal with three seconds remaining gave the Browns the comeback win.
Patriots 30, Vikings 7
Tom Brady threw a TD pass and Stevan Ridley ran for 101 yards and a score.
Cardinals 25, Giants 14
Ted Ginn Jr. had a 71-yard punt return and backup QB Drew Stanton did enough to lead the Cards to the win over the struggling Giants, who have lost seven straight games in the month of September.
Cowboys 26, Titans 10
DeMarco Murray ran 29 times for 167 yards and a touchdown. Tony Romo completed 19 out of 29 passes for 176, including ten completions to Dez Bryant for 103 yards and a TD.
Redskins 41, Jaguars 10
Kirk Cousins came in after Robert Griffin III left with a dislocated ankle and threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Alfred Morris ran for two scores as well.
Chargers 30, Seahawks 21
Philip Rivers threw 3 TD passes to Antonio Gates and Nick Novak hit three field goals in the win for the Chargers.
Rams 19, Buccaneers 17
Greg Zuerlein connected on a 38-yard field goal with less than a minute left in the game. Austin Davis, who began the season as the third QB for the Rams, completed 22 of 29 passes for 235 yards.
Broncos 24, Chiefs 17
Peyton Manning had three TD passes in the first half and the Denver defense had to hold the Chiefs after a first and goal from the 9-yard line in the closing minutes of the game.
Packers 31, Jets 24
Aaron Rodgers led the Pack’s comeback, with two TD passes in the second half. Jordy Nelson caught nine passes for 209 yards.
Texans 30, Raiders 14
Houston improved to 2-0, as Arian Foster ran 28 times for 138 yards and a TD. Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 14 of 10 passes with two TD’s in the win.
Bears 28, 49ers 20
Jay Cutler threw four touchdown passes, including three to Brandon Marshall as the Bears came back from a 17-0 deficit in the second quarter.
Monday, September 15
Eagles 30, Colts 27
Cody Parkey hit a 36-yard field goal as time expired, as the Eagles came from behind. Nick Floes was 21-37 for 331 yards, with a touchdown. Darren Sproles caught 7 passes for 152 yards, and ran four times for 26 yards. The Eagles became only the fourth team in the last 30 years to win consecutive games in which they trailed by at least 14 points in the second half. Colts QB Andrew Luck lost back-to-back games for the first time in his NFL career. The 33 starts to start his career without consecutive losses is a record that Luck shares with Dan Marino.
Here are this week’s NFL games and early point spreads:
Thursday, September 18th
Buccaneers @ Falcons -6 8:30 pm NFL Network & CBS
Sunday, September 14th
Chargers @ Bills - 2 ½ 1:00 pm CBS
Titans @ Bengals -7 1:00 pm CBS
Ravens @ Browns +2 1:00 pm CBS
Texans @ Giants +2 ½ 1:00 pm CBS
Colts @ Jaguars + 6 ½ 1:00 pm CBS
Raiders @ Patriots -14 ½ 1:00 pm CBS
Packers @ Lions -1 ½ 1:00 pm FOX
Vikings @ Saints -9 ½ 1:00 pm FOX
Redskins @ Eagles -6 1:00 pm FOX
Cowboys @ Rams +1 ½ 1:00 pm FOX
49ers @ Cardinals + 2 ½ 4:05 pm FOX
Chiefs @ Dolphins -4 4:25 pm CBS
Broncos @ Seahawks -5 4:25 pm CBS
Steelers @ Panthers -3 ½ 8:30 pm NBC
Monday, September 22nd
Bears @ Jets -2 8:30 pm ESPN
What else are the Dolphins up to?
Miami Dolphins blog from Armando Salguero:
Chris Perkins and Omar Kelly bring us their Dolphin blog:
For more news from around the NFL, here is NFL NATION:
In college football last week, all of my picks came through:
(HOME TEAMS IN CAPS)
Pittsburgh 42 FIU 25
MISSOURI 38 Central Florida 10
MIAMI 41 Arkansas State 20
FAU 50 Tulsa 21
FLORIDA 36 Kentucky 30 (3OT)
This coming Saturday, in games involving state of Florida universities:
Florida @ ALABAMA 3:30 pm CBS
Louisville @ FIU 3:30 pm Fox Sports 1
Florida Atlantic @ WYOMING 4:00 pm
Bethune Cookman @ UCF 6:00 pm ESPN 3
Clemson @ Florida State 8:00 pm ABC
Miami @ Nebraska 8:00 pm ESPN 2
Looks like a tough week ahead for the Florida contingent.
Manny Navarro and Susan Miller Degnan have all the latest news from the University of Miami.
From FIU, David J. Neal of the Herald, who is, once again, allowed to see FIU play and practice, has the latest from the University of Westchester in his blog.
Here’s the latest from Tallahassee and the Seminoles:
From Gainesville and the University of Florida:
The Central Florida Knights are in the house:
Every week, celebrating the fact that we will now have a four-team playoff to determine the national championship, I will bring you my TOP FOUR teams in college football, indicating what teams will end up in the four-team playoff. This list will probably change every week. This week, we said goodbye to Georgia, and welcomed Texas A&M. On the fringe . . . Oklahoma.
1. Florida State Seminoles
2. Oregon Ducks
3. Alabama Crimson Tide
4. Texas A&M
I’ll have my picks, both NFL and College, in Thursday’s blog.
Let’s shift gears, and head out to the baseball diamonds.
After losing slugger and MVP-candidate Giancarlo Stanton for the rest of the season, the Marlins are in the process of playing out the season, and looking to get back to .500.
By the way, here are the pictures, posted by Giancarlo himself on his Instagram account, of how much he has improved in the last few days after the beaning:
He still wants to play before the season is over. MVP.
They closed out the series in Philadelphia by beating the Phillies on Sunday, 5-4, scoring four runs in the ninth inning against Phillies closer Jonathan Pabelbon. Last night, in New York, the Fish took care of the Mets 6-5. It didn’t look good for a while, as Mets’ starter Jacob deGrom started the game with eight consecutive strikeouts, before Marlins pitcher Jarred Cosard, of all people, ended the strikeout streak and singled to right field. The eight strikeouts to start the game tied a major league record. (I smell a trivia question right here).
TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION: Jacob deGrom tied a major league record yesterday, striking out the first eight Marlins hitters in the game. Who held the record by himself until yesterday? The answer comes later, alligator.
With 13 games remaining, the Fish are 73-76. The math tells us that they need to go 8-5 the rest of the way to finish at .500, 81-81. I’ve been saying this all year . . . after losing 100 games last year, this is one outstanding turnaround for the team. Incredibly enough, the Marlins are still not eliminated from the wild-card chase, although elimination will come soon enough.
The Fish and the Metropolitans have two more games in their series this week up in the Big Apple, before the Marlins return home on Thursday to take on the Washington Nationals in a four-game weekend series. Here are the pitching match-ups for the rest of the series against the Metropolitans:
Tue 7:10 pm Nathan Eovaldi vs Bartolo Colon
Wed 7:10 pm Henderson Alvarez vs Dillon Gee
In the four-game series against the Nats, the Fish will send out Brad Hand on Thursday, Tom Koehler on Friday, Jarred Cosart on Saturday, and Nathan Eovaldi back out there on Sunday. Good time to go out to Marlins Park and show your support for the 2014 team. They done good.
For the latest Marlins news and stories, as well as Dolphin news, you need to make sure you follow my good friend Larry Walansky on nbcmiami.com.
Here is Joe Frisaro’s MLB Marlins Blog:
The Yankees’ blog is here, thanks to Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News:
Click below for yesterday’s recaps and results in the major leagues:
Here are the standings in MLB:
Here are the individual leaders in the majors:
In other baseball news,
All is not “peachy-keen” in Los Angeles, as the Dodgers are feuding. Yesterday, it was Matt Kemp going after Yasiel Puig in the dugout. This is one seriously dysfunctional clubhouse, according to people close to the situation. They're playing well on the field, however, and find themselves very close to clinching their post-season ticket. They remind me a little of the Oakland A’s of the early 70’s and the NY Yankees of 1977 and 1978.
Speaking of the Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw is now 19-3, with a 1.70 ERA, and 219 strikeouts in 185 innings. Another Cy Young award is a done deal. After Giancarlo Stanton’s injury, the MVP could also be in the cards for Kershaw. I hope not.
I truly hope the voters take into account what would have been for Stanton had he not taken that pitch to the face last week against the Brewers. He truly has had an MVP season in 2014.
The Baltimore Orioles will win the AL East for the first time since 1997, but will head into the post-season without slugger Chris Davis, who was suspended by MLB for taking Adderal, a banned substance.
Incidentally, Davis was one of several people who lifted an overturned truck on Interstate 295 near Baltimore to help rescue a man who was trapped underneath the truck.
It was bound to happen eventually, as the Detroit Tigers are back in first place in the AL Central. They have won four in a row, and nine out of their last ten games. Good teams have a tendency to get hot at the right time. Yesterday, for example, they led the Twins 6-0, before the Twins came back to tie the score. That’s when the cream rose to the top, and Miguel Cabrera and Torii Hunter went deep in the ninth inning to lift the Tigers to the victory.
Sticking with the Tigers theme, we’ve talked about a few times here on the blog. Victor Martinez has been incredible this season. So far, he has 31 homers against 40 strikeouts. Only three players in the 162-game schedule era (1961-present) have hit that many home runs in a season, while striking out less than 45 times. Those three players have done it five times:
Don Mattingly 1985 31 HR 35 K’s
1986 35 HR 41 K’s
Gary Sheffield 1992 33 HR 40 K’s
Barry Bonds 1994 37 HR 43 K’s
2004 45 HR 41 K’s
Kudos should also go out to the St. Louis Cardinals. They have overcome injuries to Yadier Molina, Michael Wacha, and Jaime Garcia. They traded Joe Kelly and brought in John Lackey and Justin Masterson, who have only been so-so after getting to St. Louis. Since the return of Molina, the Cards are 12-6, taking over first place in the NL Central. This will be a team that will, once again, be very dangerous in the playoffs. Their three-man rotation of Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, and Adam Wainwright has been lights out, and you know that is what you need in the post-season. I have to mention our old friend Jon Jay, who is hitting .359 since August 1, raising his season average to .311. In this, his fifth season in the bigs, Jay has a career average of just under .300, and has shown a very good glove while playing all three outfield positions.
The first team to clinch a post-season appearance? The Los Angeles Angels. They have done it with a flourish, as they have won 11 out of their last 12 games. They are four games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in the quest for home field advantage during the AL playoffs.
The Yankees are done, although they are, technically, still in the chase for a wild card spot. Tough year, injury wise. They just lost Martin Prado for the rest of the year, after having to get an appendectomy. When it rains, it pours.
The Atlanta Braves have picked the worst time to go into a tailspin, and they still can't hit their way out of a paper bag. The Braves are 3-10 in September, and have lost seven out of their last eight. They are 29th in the majors in runs scored, with 547. Only the San Diego Padres are worse. In a season where the Braves lost the majority of their starting rotation to injuries, they certainly needed the bats to pick up the slack. They obviously didn’t, as they have been held to three runs or less in 56 games so far in 2014.
BTW, the new stadium in Atlanta will be named SunTrust Park. They announced the naming rights deal as they officially broke ground on the new 41,500 seat stadium, which will open in 2017.
THE ANSWER TO TODAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION: Jacob deGrom tied a major league record yesterday, striking out the first eight Marlins hitters in the game. Who held the record by himself until yesterday?
It was Jim Desheaies, while pitching for the Houston Astros against the LA Dodgers on Sept. 23, 1986. Deshaies and deGrom are the only pitchers to accomplish this feat since 1900. Deshaies, now a broadcaster with the Chicago Cubs, also was the beneficiary of one of Chris Berman’s best nicknames, Jim “Two silhouettes on” Deshaies.
Let’s go to the hardwood, and here is Ira Winderman’s Miami Heat Blog:
Behave yourselves, and always remember that tomorrow will bring us a brand new day.