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Should old acquaintance be forgot....
The Dolphins, by which I mean Dolphins' owner Stephen Ross, got a good look at Santa's leftover naughty list and fired head coach Adam Gase on New Year's Eve. Said ESPN.com:
Gase couldn't escape the mediocrity that has followed the Dolphins since 2000. He finished 23-25 [.479], with his lone playoff game being a wild-card loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016. Miami was 7-9 this season.
To be fair, Gase's record wasn't any worse than his two immediate predecessors (Philbin, 24-28 [.461], and Sparano, 29-33 [.468]), but he wasn't any better either, which was particularly damning for someone who was supposed to be such a great offensive genius.
The biggest indictment of Gase was that he often fielded an anemic offense despite being thought of as an offensive guru and quarterback whisperer when he got the job. The Dolphins finished 24th or worse in total offense in all three seasons under Gase, including 31st in 2018.
There's anemic, and then there's Adam Gase' offense. In 2018, the Dolphins weren't just the worst AFC team in total yards, they were also the worst AFC team at yards per game, first downs, third-down conversion percentage, and field goals attempted. On the positive side, they were the best in the AFC in punts attempted and total punting yards!
As surprising as it might seem in hindsight, Ross hired Gase to turn around the under-performing Ryan Tannehill in 2016 after Gase had performed a similar "miracle" with Peyton Manning. You read that right. Gase was Manning's offensive coordinator in Denver in 2013, and somehow he got credit for Peyton's record-setting comeback there, never mind that Peyton was already one of the all-time greats before the neck injury that slowed him down for the 2011-2012 seasons. The way people talk about Gase, you'd think he performed Peyton's surgery himself.
Anyway, whether or not Gase had any ability to improve his players before he came to the Dolphins is a moot point. In Miami, inability to recognize and develop talent is an infectious disease.
Frankly, I feel sorry for whoever comes to town next.
Kicking off week 8 of the 2018 NFL season tonight, the Miami Dolphins will play the Houston Texans. Starting at quarterback for the Dolphins will be Brock Osweiler. This is notable because on March 9, 2016, the Texans paid Osweiler $72 million to be their quarterback. Exactly one year later, the Texans paid the Browns to take Osweiller off their hands. Then the Browns cut him. A QB of that calibre has to end up a Dolphin.
Osweiller gets the start for the Phins because oft-hurt Ryan Tannehill is hurt again. Tannehill has started 5 games in the past two seasons, and the writing may be on the wall. Tannehill has already started twice as many games for Miami as any other quarterback since Dan Marino, and his record isn't exactly sterling.
Tannehill's record is 40-42. The quarterback with the second-most starts is Jay Fielder — does anyone else outside Miami remember him? — at 36-23. For comparison, Marino was 147-93. *sigh* (And, since we're here, I might as well remind everyone once again that the Dolphins, under Head Coach Nick Saban, passed on signing free agent Drew Brees in 2006 because of medical questions about Brees' reconstructed shoulder. Brees has only gone 117-79 since, missing exactly 2 games over those 13 years. *double sigh*)
So with fragile Tannehill looking at the tail end of his mediocre career, why isn't there someone in the wings ready to take his place? Osweiller is obviously not a long-term solution, and the third QB on the team depth-chart, David Fales, was shown the door by the Chicago Bears who let him attempt only 2 passes during a 2017 season in which they won only 3 games. The problem here, obviously, is with whoever is in charge of player personnel for the Dolphins. According to his contract, that executive for the Dolphins isn't GM Mike Tannenbaum but Head Coach Adam Gase.
Giving this sort of power to the Head Coach might seem like a good idea after years of Jeff Ireland' blind eye for talent, but maybe Gase isn't the right man for that job, either. It was Gase's decision to trade star running back and "locker room cancer" Jay Ajayi to the Eagles (where he won a Super Bowl) for a fourth-round draft pick. It was Gase's decision to trade star receiver Jarvis Landry to the Browns for fourth- and seventh-round draft picks. And it was Gase's decision to bring Jay Cutler out of retirement to do whatever it was he did last season. If there's no quarterback of the future on Miami's roster, that's Gase's decision, too.
Yeah, I'll be watching tonight as the Dolphins struggle to stay afloat in the race to the postseason, but all I see in the team's future is more of the same old canned tuna.
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I was notified over Christmas dinner that Uga IX, aka Russ, died this week at the age of 11. What can you say to that? I settled for "Please pass the deviled eggs."
Why was it that whenever Mark Richt had a bad year, an Uga died? In 2009, Uga VII died after losses to Oklahoma State, LSU, Tennessee, and Florida. After the 2010 season, which Georgia finished 6-7, Uga VIII died of cancer. Despite wining nine games (with a bowl game still to go), 2015 was so disappointing, we said goodbye to both Richt and Uga IX.
(To be clear, Richt is still alive. At least I think he still is. No one said otherwise during dinner.)
Let's hope this tragic trend ends with Kirby Smart. May Uga X's reign be long and fruitful.
I'll have more to say about old dogs on Monday. In the meantime, I'm going to Florida. If it's going to be 80 degrees in December, I might as well be at the beach.
I hadn't even gotten around to contributing my two cents here on the University of Georgia firing Mark Richt this past Sunday, and already he's been hired to lead another marquee program at the University of Miami. Good for him.
I would not have minded if UGA had given Richt another year to try and correct the mess he'd let his program devolve into. The failure to recruit or develop a quarterback prior to the season was a gamble that failed to pay off. When Chubb was lost for the season, Richt was too tolerant of Offensive Coordinator Schottenheimer's inability or unwillingness to restructure his offence for the, uh, "differently abled" QBs he had to work with. There were too many games this year where Georgia's offense was unwatchable. The team never beat an opponent with a winning record, and was woefully unprepared in every game that counted. That UGA finished with 9 wins says more about Athletic Director McGarity's ability to gimmick a schedule of cupcakes than the football team's ability to actually play football.
Still, I think the fault of the season lies more with the fans than the coaches. Every year, UGA fans desperate for a little success and national recognition buy into the hype that this will be the year. When UGA was nearly unanimously picked before the season to win the SEC East, the Sword of Damocles was hung above Richt's head. By failing to live up to the hype, Richt fell victim to his own past success.
Is UGA being short-sighted in dismissing the second-winningest coach in school history? Probably. But sometimes a change will do everybody good. Richt returns to his alma-mater with new motivation to win in a weaker conference. UGA gets a new coach to blame if we don't win the SEC East every year. It may not be a win-win, but as the old adage goes, when action is necessary, do something even if it's wrong.
We'll see how quickly I change my tune if Richt take Miami to the Bowl Championship Series before UGA wins another SEC title with his successor. Sour grapes never fall too far from the vine.
"Word on the street" is that Miami Dolphins' head coach Joe Philbin might not survive the day in that position following two terrible, terrible losses in a row as the now 1-3 team heads into their bye week.
As I type this, I don't really expect Philbin to get fired. I suspect that the axe will fall on some other scapegoat for the inept Dolphins organization, probably Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle who can be blamed for Ndamukong Suh's complete invisibility over four games or the defensive backs tendency to make the Bill's Tyrod Taylor and the Jet's Ryan Fitzpatrick look like Tom Brady and Bret Favre, respectively.
Besides, NFL teams whose organizations panic and fire their head coaches mid-season don't have a very good record of improving things in the short term. Most simply swap one losing coach for another. Only the Cowboy's Jason Garrett comes to mind as a step in the right direction, and he was already being groomed to eventually replace predecessor Wade Phillips anyway.
Assuming Philbin is fired before the end of the year — because let's face facts, this team stinks like dead fish no matter who is in charge — who would the Dolphins replace him with? An Offensive Coordinator who can't coordinate more than two touchdowns in a game? The 32-year-old Quarterbacks Coach? Certainly none of the defensive coaches deserve it. There don't seem to be any good candidates in the entire building.
Hmm. What's Dan Marino doing these days?
UPDATE 1:00PM: Philbin has been fired, replaced by the team's former tight ends coach, 39-year old Dan Campbell.
No team who has fired their coach 4 games into the season has gone on to post-season victories, so I guess everyone can now tune out for the remainder of the 2015 campaign. Unless you like watching train wrecks.
To be perfectly clear, this news doesn't disappoint me. Go back and check, and you'll see I've been no Philbin fan since the beginning of his tenure. But I'm also not eager to support any organization that gives a bad head coach a contract extension at the end of a bad season only to turn around and fire that same coach part way through the following bad season. The Dolphins have now done that twice in four years. Go team!
I don't know how owner Stephen Ross made his money, but he certainly doesn't manage it very well.
The Miami Dolphins are replacing every seat in whatever the hell it is they call their stadium these days. Gone are the orange seats that looked so empty on television (and real life). They are set to be replaced by aqua colored seats the same color as found on Dolphins uniforms. I'm sure a sea of empty aqua seats will look much better as Joe Philbin leads the 'Fins to another not-quite-winning season in 2015.
I find this particularly amusing because the Georgia Dome used to have aqua seats. They were replaced in 2008 with red seats that made the Dome feel much smaller. The red seats sure have been visible in recent years as the Falcons reverted to form. (The Dome got new seats in 2008 and a new field in 2011, and now it's too old to use. That sure seems like money well spent. Glad the taxpayers aren't on the hook for any of it.)
When the football season ends, the coaching carousel begins.
Bad news: On Sunday Miami Dolphins team owner Stephen Ross announced that the team will be retaining Head Coach Joe Philbin. This should come as not too much a surprise because Philbin had a year remaining on his contract. However, let's take a look at Philbin's tenure with the team:
- 2012: Philbin joins the team. The nations watches on Hard Knocks as the new coach is unable to look Chad Johnson in the eyes as he cuts him from the team for beating his wife. Great start. Dolphins miss the playoffs with a final record of 7-9, one game better than the previous year.
- 2013: Again, the Dolphins are in the national spotlight as the locker room becomes a school yard where bullies reign. Philbin says he didn't know anything about it. Great management. Dolphins collapse at the end of December and miss the playoffs with a final record of 8-8, one game better than the previous year.
- 2014: With the Dolphins acting as NFL ambassadors during a game in London, Philbin declines to name a starting quarterback despite having only one option. Great motivational technique. Dolphins won 7 of their first 12 games, then fade late and miss the playoffs. As I write this, there's still a chance the Dolphins will finish one game better than the previous year.
So the news that Philbin will be back doesn't inspire me with anything other than a knowledge that the 2015 Dolphins will be one game better than 2014 and still miss the playoffs. I've got better things to do with my time than wait for that to happen. I'll catch up with you in 2016, Dolphins.
Good news: Georgia Bulldog Offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo will be leaving to become Head Coach at Colorado State, effective immediately. I've been opposed to Bobo for years: his play calls are predictable and his players are often unprepared for four quarters of football. That Georgia has been successful owes more to superior talent than superior coaching. Perhaps Bobo's talent lies in recruiting. we'll see how well he does in Colorado. If he's successful there it won't hurt my feelings so long as he stays far, far away from Georgia.
I feel the need to comment on some recent coaching/staff departures from my preferred football teams.
Last week, GM Jeff Ireland and OC Mike Sherman were fired by the Miami Dolphins. Good riddance to both, but especially Ireland. It will be hard to hire someone with a worse eye for talent. Maybe now the Dolphins will stop overpaying for free agents and develop some talent through the draft. Who knows. In a few years, they might actually be able to post a winning record.
This week, DC Todd Grantham chose to leave the Georgia Bulldogs to go to work for shitbag Bobby Petrino's Louisville Cardinals. Grantham had his worst year as a Bulldogs coach in 2013, allowing opponents 189 more points than in his second-worst year. Keeping in mind that he did have a very young squad and that the SEC decided to go all-in on offense in 2013, I wouldn't have minded if Grantham had stuck around for the final year of his contract. (Bobo is STILL the problem at UGA.) That said, I can't begrudge him leaving, especially since Petrino is throwing a $150,000/year raise at him. (Petrino just got the job, and already he is throwing away Lousiville's money. What a dick.)
Of course, the Dolphins and Bulldogs haven't replaced the departed coaches yet. Whoever they hire, I'm sure I'll hate them just as much as these outgoing guys once I get to know them.
[UPDATE 2014-01-15: Of course, the day before this was posted, UGA announced the hiring of Jeremy Pruitt, former DC for the 2013 champion FSU Seminoles. He was only at FSU for one season, coming to UGA for a $350,000 raise. (The previous two seasons he was at Alabama. That means he's been on 3 consecutive national title teams!) If he can do for us what he did for FSU, that's be great, but don't expect him to stick around for long. If he improves the UGA defense — and it will be hard not to — some other college will be throwing $1 million or more at this guy in 2015.]
I guess now that even The Daily Show is talking about the Dolphins' locker room meltdown, I, as a Dolphins fan and frequent critic, should probably comment on it, too.
Was offensive tackle Jonathan Martin bullied? Was offensive guard Richie Incognito following orders when he called Martin racial slurs and extorted $15,000 from him? Did the Dolphins coaches really have no idea what was going on? I don't know. All I see is the second half of the 2013 season getting flushed down the toilet.
At this point, we've lost two starting offensive linemen, probably for the rest of the year and maybe forever. Through eight games, we're already allowed 35 sacks. Given that half our starting offensive linemen have left the team, that's not going to get better.
Also, I think I've mentioned before that I'm not impressed with Coach Philbin's ability at managing people. This is just more of the same. I've never been in an NFL locker room, but I find it inconceivable that Philbin had no idea that there was bad blood on his team. If Philbin's staff really did encourage Incognito, that's not just morally wrong, it also might cripple the team. Last year the NFL suspended several coaches for encouraging players to injure other players on the field. What's the likelihood that the NFL won't come down hard on a coach who encourages the same sort of behavior in his own team?
Because I can't talk about the Dolphins' off-the-field drama without taking a parting shot at my least favorite member of the organization, let me point out that we wouldn't be in this situation at all if General Manager Jeff Ireland hadn't drafted Martin and signed free agent Incognito. Yes, I'm finding a way to blame Ireland for this mess. It's what I do.
UPDATE 2013-11-08 4PM: ProFootballTalk.com reports that Martin's agent reported the bullying to Ireland before Martin left the team. Ireland's response was to tell Martin to punch Incognito. Imagine telling your boss that you were being harassed, and your boss telling you just to punch your coworker. Yeah, that'll do it. The Dolphins continue to pretend that it doesn't have to conform to the same workplace conditions as the rest of the country. I think they'll find that defense isn't going to stand up for itself.
Also, the NFL's "independent" investigation announced that Martin will be interviewed about the situation late next week. This thing is going to drag on forever. *sigh*
Alright, Randy. You want it, you got it.
The Miami Dolphins are currently 0-7, staring down the barrel of a potentially win-less season. The remaining schedule is, in a single word, difficult. Some say the silver lining of the second-worst season in franchise history is the opportunity to draft first in the 2012 NFL Draft. The media calls this phenomenon "Suck 4 Luck" in honor of apparent first-overall pick Andrew Luck.
The Dolphins were terrible in 2007, too. That year the team narrowly avoided becoming the worst team in NFL history in their third-from-last game of the season by beating the hapless 4-9 Baltimore Ravens. The team had the first pick in the following year's draft and used it to select Offensive Tackle Jake Long. Long is pretty good, but is hardly a single-handed game-changer. In 2007, no one said the Dolphins should "Suck 4 Long," but certainly the team did (and still does).
Just for the record, Andrew Luck isn't a senior. He was projected as the number one overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, should he have chosen to leave college, but he didn't. Another year later, and he's still the best quarterback in college sports. Will he go pro? Maybe. But why would he want to play for the Miami Dolphins? I wouldn't.
There are currently 7 players on the 2011 Miami Dolphins roster who were on the 2007 Miami Dolphins team that finished the season 1-15. One of those players is Jason Taylor. Said Taylor to the Miami Sun-Sentinel:
"You do your best to ignore it, but sure, there's an elephant in the room, and you have to realize you have nothing to do with it. You can't control it. The only thing you can do to control it is play well and win games. It's something that's hanging out there, and people are going to talk about it because people love to talk."
I understand and share your frustration, Jason, but we would rather win than talk. We be talking about "it" at all if you would actually win a few games. Or even a game. If you want us, the fans, to stop calling for the head of the coach, try winning for a change.
The Miami Dolphins have 20 individuals listed as coaches on the official team website, and none of them appear to be doing a very good job. One of those 20 coaches is the Head Coach's son, Tony Sparano, Jr. There can't be any nepotism involved in his position: unlike the other coaches, Jr. seems to be living up to his job title, "Offensive Quality Control," because the team is very offensive right now.
The problem here is that either the team doesn't have players good enough to compete or the team doesn't have coaches good enough to prepare the players to compete. The solution to both of those problems lies in the front office, which holds the purse strings and makes the tough decisions. Since buying the team in 2008 from a desperate-to-sell Wayne Huizenga, the Dolphins majority owner Stephen Ross has demonstrated a management style of paying ridiculous salaries to players and coaches for which the adjective "mediocre" is too kind. I'm sure that style is what made him the billionaire he is today.
It's past time for someone to do something to fix this season. Like the 2007 season, this one is already in the tank. But it sure would be nice if we could look forward to something next year other than the prospect of letting our career-destroying coaches get their hands on another potentially franchise-defining player. That just plain sucks.
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