Archive for the ‘Miami Dolphins’ Category

#83 Brandon Myers - some shrewd business for the New York Giants

#83 Brandon Myers – some shrewd business for the New York Giants

With NFL Free Agency 2013 calming down somewhat (unless you are the Baltimore Ravens) it’s time to reflect on some of the key moves.

Now most pundits will focus on the impact of Wes Welker moving from the New England Patriots to the Denver Broncos or the ‘Fax-Gate’ scandal that saw the Baltimore Ravens snag Elvis Dumervil.

Myself, having played a season in England for the Crawley Raiders II as a tight-end, I want to spend some time looking at some of the Free Agency movement involving this position, and look at some very early projections for those who have moved and those who have inked deals in the past month to remain with their current team.

Before looking at some of the deck shuffling it’s worth reflecting on the rise of the importance of the tight-end.

We have witnessed the evolution of a two tight-end set from the old-school two tight-end set of five or so years ago when the Kansas City Chiefs would deploy Tony Gonzales as a real weapon and Jason Dunn as essentially a sixth offensive lineman to the almost unstoppable combination of New England Patriots duo Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez (when both are fit).

I’m unable to do more than guess here but it sure feels that proportionally the number of catches made by the tight-end position on all 32 NFL teams has risen over the past five years. The majority of NFL teams have factored in the tight-end as a core offensive weapon and not a secondary or dump-off target for a quarterback looking for a cheap completion on a busted play.

So here are my top five tight-end free agency moves (in no particular order):

#1 – Brandon Myers – Oakland Raiders to New York Giants

I had the privilege of seeing Myers play live against the Dolphins just six months ago and despite not being anywhere near a household name he was the most reliable target for Carson Palmer. Myers deserves a bigger, brighter stage and there is no better place than the Big Apple to show what you are made of. After 32 catches in his first three seasons Myers pretty much exploded onto the scene in 2012 with 79 catches for 806 yards. Big Blue fans love a hard working reliable tight-end Рnames like Mark Bavaro and Jeremy Shockey are pretty hard to live up to, but Myers has the skills to settle in immediately. Eli Manning will be happy that he has a safe pair of hands to throw to as he looks to get the Giants back into the postseason.

2013 prediction – 75 catches for 750 yards and 7 tds

#2 – James Casey – Houston Texans to Philadelphia Eagles

Casey¬†was woefully misused by the Houston Texans as a hybrid fullback and despite only 66 career catches, and similar to Myers, he enters his fifth NFL season with a huge opportunity to make a big impact with his new team. That team, the Philadelphia Eagles has a new coach, a new philosophy and a quarterback who is returning for his fifth season in the home of Rocky Balboa. this equates to the ‘land of opportunity’ for Casey, much like the ‘line’ given to Rocky by that greasy haired promoter.

2013 prediction – 57 catches 520 yards and 5 tds

#3 – Delanie Walker – San Francisco 49ers to Tennessee Titans

Without doubt an unsung hero on his old team, Walker had a habit of coming up with big catches in big situations. Having spent seven seasons on the West Coast, Walker never had a real chance to shine, providing a support role to Vernon Davies over every one of the past seven seasons. With Jared Cook’s locker not even emptied Walker will be hoping to slot in as a starter. It’s quite a rare situation to be a backup tight-end for seven seasons before moving into a starting role. Walker is the kind of player you root for, but Jake Locker is a significant downgrade on Colin Kaepernick. Walker will not be going back to a Super Bowl anytime soon with the Titans, but he should have his best career statistical output in 2013.

2013 prediction – 48 catches for 580 yards and 3 tds

#4 – Dustin Keller – New York Jets to Miami Dolphins

When you are being targeted by Mark Sanchez, and have a backup who is better known for kneeling down than throwing a forward pass then being able to escape that situation must be like a breath of sweet Florida sunshine air. Talking of Florida sunshine that is exactly where Keller is now plying his trade as a Miami Dolphins starter. Keller will replace, and upgrade the play of Anthony Fasano. Now Keller was injured for half of 2012, but he is not known as injury prone. He has averaged 48 catches a season over five years, but he has been held back by average to poor quarterback play. In Miami Ryan Tannehill was the forgotten man as other 2012 rookie quarterbacks such as Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck commanded the headlines. Keller and Tannehill need to set up a strong bond in camp, and if they do it could mean very good news for Fish fans.

2013 prediction – 66 catches for 670 yards and 5 tds

#5 РJared Cook РTennessee Titans to St Louis Rams 

Potential is a funny old word. To me its a way of saying expectations being unfulfilled. A bit like the career so far of Jared Cook, all 6 ft 5 inches of him. Cook has again been let down by some average quarterback play and some bad play-calling. In St Louis he will need to work alongside Lance Kendricks. Both had almost identical stats in 2012, so something will have to give. I think Cook will get around 65% to 70% of the tight end targets from Sam Bradford. The Rams are going to be intriguing to watch in 2013 with a new look backfield and the marauding Cook exploiting any safety coverage mismatches.

2013 prediction – 65 catches for 740 yards and 4 touchdowns

Other notable moves include Tony Gonzales remaining at the Atlanta Falcons for one more shot at a Super Bowl, and Martellus Bennett (Giants to Chicago Bears) which could work if Jay Cutler realises that there is actually another offensive target aside Brandon Marshall.

There is also the rather low-key saga of where current Washington Redskins tight-end Fred Davis will end up in 2013 – Buffalo, New York or back in D.C being the three main contenders.

How do you rate your teams tight-end depth and would you have liked to have seen one of my top five free-agent tight-ends joining your team?

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I have to admit it has been a long hard slog trying to get one of my emails read out on Sky Sports NFL Sunday show.

In fact after the first month of the season spent sending topical and highly insightful NFL related questions I gave up until a few weeks ago.

Having the pleasure of knowing studio pundit Mark Cohen (we work in the same building) I asked Mark very nicely if he could fast-track one of my emails. Whilst he could make no promises he did say he would mention my name.

Last Sunday I decided to give it another crack, and armed with a good question and a 48 point bold font I pressed send (a few times).

Here is the result…………………..cue the Dolphins rookie WR Brian Hartline getting stretched on the sideline

Thanks Mark – and I hope you get to commentate on the Superbowl with Kev in the studio, whilst Nick goes to Miami for some sunshine. Here’s hoping he isn’t wearing the same smelly black shirt and yellow tie.

I’m home, and watching a rom-com with my wife, all in all a very relaxing day. Time I thought to put on my NFL goggles and reminisce about the past decade. Someone pass the dry roasted peanuts please.

This giant Jason Taylor greeted UK NFL fans at Wembley in 2007

1) THE REAL NFL COMES TO ENGLAND IN 2007

It was a dream that I had since I first watched highlights of the Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys in 1985, getting to see real NFL football that mattered over here in England.

Guess I didn’t know back then that the NFL had already sent the St Louis Cardinals and the Minnesota Vikings to Wembley in 1983 to play a preseason game.¬†

¬†Now I was too young (and didn’t have enough pocket-money saved up) to go and see the Chicago Bears play the Dallas Cowboys (1986) or the Los Angeles Rams battle the Denver Broncos (1987) in preseason games in London, but I did make up for it.

From 1988 to 1993 I went to every NFL preseason game in London, watching the likes of the Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys and even the Detroit Lions.

It was incredible fun (even though back then the NFL organisers had no bloody clue what an NFL tailgate party is) to see real NFL superstars play in front of me, even if it was only for a quarter or even in some cases a single sustained drive.

By the time we got to 1993 I was one of thousands of now quite educated NFL fans who found it a bit insulting to fly the likes of Troy Aikman and Barry Sanders over to London only to see them suit up for 5 minutes and then watch them spend the rest of the game eating sunflower seeds in jeans and t-shirts.

This must have got back to the NFL who pulled the trips over the pond, and instead focussed on other parts of the world, including Japan, Mexico, Canada and Australia.

Fast forward over a decade and we still have no further NFL games in England, but the rumours began after Roger Goodell becomes the NFL Commissioner in 2006, replacing the steady but not so ‘blue sky thinking’ commish¬†Paul Tagliabue.

When it was announced at the end of 2006 that a REAL regular season NFL game was going to be played at Wembley Stadium I was more excited than Tiger Woods with a free VIP all access ticket to the Playboy Mansion.

He wore Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeemmmmmmmoonnnnnnnn !

Yes the game between the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins actually sucked. Primarily this was due to the godawful weather in London in late October, but we also had to witness the Dolphins trying to win a game with the legendary Cleo Lemon behind center (sorry Cleo I love you really).

The score really didn’t matter, nor did the quality of the gameplanning or execution of the plays, the fact we had an NFL contest that actually contributed to the storied history of the league was all that mattered.

Ted Ginn Jr’s first NFL touchdown will forever be frozen in time¬†in the memory bank of each and every fan that was there at the game.

I for one will never forget the humongous Jason Taylor animatronics robot, nor the way the Giants and the Dolphins tore the hallowed Wembley turf to shreds, nor will I forget that each run, each tackle, each kick and each pass will be entered for real into the NFL Record and Fact book forever more.

Eli warms up for his Superbowl win with a win in London in 2007

Roger Goodell you did all of the UK and European fans of the NFL proud, and to boot the winning team from the 2007 game, the New York Giants, went on to win the Superbowl with a late late Eli Manning touchdown.

 Two further games down the line and it looks like the NFL will have TWO regular season games in the UK in 2010.

Can’t wait !

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My god is that Leo Sayer in a Pitt uniform or is it the guy who passed for 5084 yards in 1984? (Pic from SI)

It’s the NFL equivalent of the Holy Grail, it’s a record that has not been touched until last season, and it’s a record owned by a guy who never won a Superbowl.

Yes the annual pilgrimage¬†by 32 NFL quarterbacks to eclipse former Miami Dolphins qb Dan Marino’s single season passing yards record of 5084 (in 1984) has begun in earnest.

The 2009 NFL season has seen passers come out of the blocks faster than Usaine Bolt realising he needs the toilet after some dodgy jerk chicken.

So who are the contenders to Sayers…oops…Marino’s title?

1) Matt Schaub – Houston Texans (9 games played so far, 2653 yards)

Schaub is on pace for 4716 yards, so he is 369 yards of pace to break the record. This means he needs to improve production per game by 52 yards a game.

2) Peyton Manning – Indianapolis Colts (8 games played so far, 2545 yards)

Manning is on pace for 5090 yards, so he is on pace to beat the record by 6 yards.

3) Tom Brady – New England Patriots (8 games played so far, 2364 yards)

Brady is on pace for 4728 yards, so he is 357 yards of pace to break the record. This means he needs to improve production per game by 45 yards a game.

4) Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints (8 games played so far, 2336 yards)

Brees is on pace for 4672 yards, so he is 412 yards of pace to break the record. This means he needs to improve production by 52 yards a game.

Elsewhere Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo and Kurt Warner are on pace for over 4000 yards but I think they are not going to be able to drastically improve production to get over the 5000 hump.

So coming into Week 10 the only person who is on pace is Colts Superbowl winning qb Peyton Manning. Miracle Manning has thrown for over 300 yards in 7 out of his 8 contests so far, and to top it off he has won every single encounter.

The Colts have a mega tough second half schedule, with games against the Patriots, Baltimore, Denver and the Jets.

Can Manning do it? Ill say yes. I said Brees could get the record last year, and whilst Brees had the bra off and the skirt hitched up, I see Manning breaking the seal on his pack of extra-large Trojans.

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The Iggles WRs Jackson and Macklin will be geared up for a huge Week 9 output

It has been a while I admit but it’s time to get back to the crystal ball gazing lark and give some NFL predictions.

Plenty of juicy matchups for week 9 in the 2009 NFL season, but my personal favourite is the Philadelphia Eagles against the Dallas Cowboys.
 
Everyone loves a bruising NFL East battle, and this one looks set to be a humdinger.
 
My prediction for the top performers in Week 9 goes to the Iggles WR pairing of Jeremy Macklin and DeSean Jackson.
 
I am going for Macklin and Jackson combining for 200 yards and two touchdowns in a monster win.
 
Not so long ago the Eagles had strength pretty much everywhere apart from WR. They went and got TO and got all the way to the Superbowl.
 
Now they have invested big in two remarkably similar types of players on the outside, but ones that could dominate for many years and become the new Fitzgerald and Boldin or Stallworth or Swann (providing they pick up some Vince Lombardi trophies in the next five years).
 
After three weeks of predicting I was 28-20. Now for the business of the day….¬†
 
Redskins @ Falcons –¬†The Redskins officially suck. Yes this is a technical sporting term for teams who cannot reach 3 touchdowns against the Chiefs or Lions. Matt Ryan looks to have a big day, along with Michael Turner the Falcons low gravity work mule. I will be shocked if the Skins get 2 touchdowns, even though I expect Fred Davis the TE to have over 70 yards receiving¬†– Falcons to win 37-13
 
Cardinals @ Bears – “They are who¬†we thought they were.” The immortal words from former Cardinals head coach Dennis Green after a meltdown against Da Bearz¬†a few years ago. This time I see the Cardinals stepping up and Kurt Warner atoning for his debacle last week. Look for both teams failing to establish the run, and the game becoming a shootout. Arizona to hang on with some Fitzgerald heroics – Cardinals to win 27-24
 
Ravens @ Bengals – Gotta love this game. The Ravens want revenge from the upset earlier in the season. Ray Lewis will be all over Bengals RB Cedric Benson so look for Carson Palmer to find seams in the passing game, as long has he throws to the polar opposite end of the field as Ravens All-Pro safety Ed Reed. I’ll take a bit of magic from¬†Cincy WR Chris Henry – Bengals with the upset 24-20
 
Texans @ Colts – This is the opportunity for Houston to show that they are finally ‘for real’. If they can win this game they become contenders for the AFC. Peyton Manning will be aware that the Texans will be playing like men possessed and will try to exploit the aggression of the Houston D. Monster game from Reggie Wayne AGAIN I suspect – Colts win a close one 33-27
 
Chiefs @ Jaguars – This is not exactly the game you would show if you wanted to introduce someone to the joys of the NFL. KC are pretty awful, but they may get a spark from recently promoted running back Jamal Charles. The Jags rb Maurice Jones-Drew simply HAS to get more carries. The man had under 10 carries last week but he got two rushing tds of over 75 yards a pop. Wat has he got to do to get the rock? – Jaguars to win 29-17
 
Dolphins @ Patriots – Wow – this is gonna be a barn burner. Wildcat v The Emperor. Sounds like a trendy DJ battle. I love me some AFC East action and whilst I would love to see the Dolphins get the second win against the Pats I just can’t see past Chad Henne, and his lack of explosiveness. Ricky Williams can have another big game if he comes in to keep Ronnie Brown fresh. It wont matter as the Pats will have too much class – Pats to win 31-24
 
Packers @ Buccaneers – Ouch, ouch, ouch, the words that will come out of the mouth of Josh Freeman after he picks himself up off the floor for the tenth time. This is gonna be a car wreck. Pack to win 34-9
 
Panthers @ Saints – Saints will be tested more than a lot of people think. Don’t be fooled by Jake Delhomme’s¬†errant arm, he has a supporting cast that can run all over teams. Ok I’ll do it here and now, sound the alarm this is my UPSET SPECIAL. Panthers can run and keep Drew Brees off the field – Panthers to eek by 23-21 ¬†
 
Lions @ Seahawks¬†– Two words – Matt Hasslebeck – ‘Hawks win 27-10
 
Chargers @ Giants – The Giants¬†grasp on the 2009 playoffs is currently¬†slippier¬†than the plastic sheets covering the carpet in a pornographic cinema in Soho. The Chargers, like a 4 x 400m relay team, seem to put their worst performances first, and then just get better. If the Giants fail to get the W here their season could fall apart. I would love to predict a Giants loss, but I just can’t – Giants to win 19-17
 
Titans @ 49ers РOne team has one win, and one team has faded after a false dawn. This again is not gonna be a beauty contest in terms of class, but I do like to see Frank Gore and Chris Johnson battling to see who is the better back on the day. Alex Smith Рyuk! РTitans to keep rolling 23-20
 
Cowboys @ Eagles – My game of the week by a country mile. Romo v McNabb is worthy of being an NFC Championship matchup. I think the Vikings will have something to say about that, but it is possible. As you can see above I think the Eagles WRs are a classy young bunch that can do damage against the unfamiliar Cowboys secondary. Ill expect some turnovers and some hard hits, but the edge goes to the home team and the Eagles fans – Eagles to win 33-24
 
Steelers @ Broncos – Big fat balls – we don’t get to see MNF¬†here in England so why should I waste my time predicting this game. I wont even see tv highlights until the Friday. This will be a great game. Josh McDaniels started the season looking like the men in white coats needed to cart him away. Now he is wearing a white coat, but it is as a scientist, who has found a formula for success. Steelers will bring the Broncos back to earth though – Steelers to win 31-21
 
Any thoughts ??
 

Following the rather hurried trip past the Superbowl rings last Sunday inside the Hall of Fame tent at Wembley Stadium my wife and I then were handed some 3D glasses and proceeded to be seated in amongst approximately 500 seats layed out cinema style.

The NFL were showing off some of their 3D footage, including a regular season game between the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers, plus some clips of the New England Patriots Superbowl win over the Carolina Panthers.

To see Jamarcus Russell throw an interception from 10 different angles in 3D was strangely hypnotizing, and jaw droppingly amazing at the same time.

Following this performance we went back to the NFL tents for one last look at the NFL merchandise prizes available.

Below are some of the other signed items available to win, donated by NFL teams this season…

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Carolina Panther QB Jake Delhomme may be having a torrid season but at least he donated a signed shirt

 

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Philadelphia Eagles shutdown CB Asante Samuel signed his shirt too

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#1 overall pick in 2009 NFL Draft - Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford signed one of his balls

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#1 pick in the 2008 NFL draft Miami Dolphins OT Jake Long has a very small signature for such a big person

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Baltimore Ravens stud safety Ed Reed signed this ball

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After seeing all those ace items it was time to get inside Wembley Stadium for some live NFL football

Having the opportunity to go to Land Shark Stadium in Miami with my lovely wife to watch football games two days in a row was an unforgettable experience, firstly getting to see the University of Miami Hurricanes play the Oklahoma Sooners before seeing the Dolphins under 24 hours later.

We picked up the Dolphins tickets on the Friday before the game, and when we were there the Oklahoma Sooners truck, with what I imagine was all the players uniforms inside, was just departing the car park outside Land Shark Stadium’s main entrance.

The Sooners truck was dropping off pads and helmets in Miami

The Sooners truck was dropping off pads and helmets in Miami

The main shop at Land Shark Stadium was packed with merchandise for Dolphins and Hurricanes fans alike.
One of the more amusing gifts is below.
 
I swear I took a picture of cuddly Dolphins

I swear I took a picture of cuddly Dolphins

 
The shop was pretty impressive, not so sure about the day-glo chimps.
 
Being at the stadium when it was empty was a slighty weird experience but it was fun.
 
 
I was certainly bitten by the bug of Land Shark Stadium

I was certainly bitten by the bug of Land Shark Stadium

 
Rather oddly in the three visits my wife and I made to the stadium we did not drink a single Land Shark beer.
 
I did have one at a cool pizza place on Collins Avenue though, it was no Red Stripe though.
 
Mine's a Red Stripe please but I'm not in Jamaica

Mine's a Red Stripe please but I'm not in Jamaica