The defense has been pretty outstanding this year, at least before they lost Vince Wilfork (Achilles) and Jerod Mayo (pectoral) for the season and played last week without Aqib Talib (hip), who has been their best player. But even last week the defense held its own against the Jets, and if they get Talib back (he practiced Wednesday) they're still a top-10 unit in the NFL, even without Mayo and Wilfork. DE Chandler Jones (6.5 sacks) and S Devin McCourty are playing at a Pro Bowl level, and they're getting solid contributions from young guys like CB Alfonzo Dennard and DT Chris Jones. Tom Brady and the offense has done a fairly good job of protecting the football (eight turnovers in seven games) and Brady has been pretty money in the fourth quarter, leading them to game-winning or game-tying drives in three games already.
I had the pleasure of doing a little Q&A session with my friend Adam Schefter. Schefter as everyone knows is the ESPN’s top insider and quite frankly the best in the bizz.
Q1) What have you been hearing around the Dolphins stadium upgrade project?
Schefter: The NFL is very use to getting what it wants, it generally finds whatever solution it has to but they do not take no as an answer very often. The Dolphins will make the best viable business decision for the franchise, if that means moving the team to Palm Beach then so be it but if they feel that decision is best for the organization they will find a solution. I believe the Dolphins will find a way to get what they want in the end.
Q2) Will Jonathan Martin be the week 1 starter at LT?
Schefter: I think that is the plan right but it might be a mistake to put it in ink. The thing is with Martin is that you don’t know if he will succeed at the position or not. Does he have pro bowl potential sure but he also has bust potential.
From people around the league there are several people that believe Martin can play LT in this league and well however there also have been enough people who think the opposite which leaves me unsure.
The Dolphins wanted Jake Long back make no mistake, they went full force in their pursuit after him and I believe he was the team’s first option most likely because they didn’t trust Martin at LT. Long was the only real player the Dolphins really wanted and didn’t land. We will see if their plan B works out.
Q3) One of the players the Dolphins didn’t land this offseason was Jared Cook, why did they lose out?
Schefter: I think the Dolphins had their price with Cook and didn’t want to spend a more then a certain amount. Cook was a player they wanted but didn’t feel they needed to have. I think they had a solid backup plan in Dustin Keller. Personally I don’t see a huge drop off from Keller to Cook so I think the Dolphins did well here.
Q4) Do you think the Dolphins overspent this season?
Schefter: Yes I do believe they did however it doesn’t really matter if they make the playoffs. The Dolphins paid a premium for the players they wanted and they made sure they got them however price really won’t matter if these players work out and the team can take the next step and makes the playoffs.
Q5) What type of buzz have you heard in terms of the Dolphins draft?
Schefter: Well, I am a fan of their 2nd round pick, I think Taylor the CB from Boise will be a good player and that was a good pick. The draft however comes down to Dion Jordan vs. Lane Johnson. It might be unfair but that is going to be the metric of this draft. Most people thought they would go with the LT but instead they went with the pass rusher, some people are a fan of the moves others aren’t. If Jordan becomes the player the Dolphins think he will be then the draft will be a home run. The Dolphins basically envision Cam Wake and Jordan being similar to what Denver had in Miller and Dumervile.
Q6) What is your overall take on the Dolphins and this offseason?
Schefter: It comes down to the QB, a lot of jobs ride on the potential of Ryan Tannehill. Many people around the league believe he has the tools but who knows, I am still undecided if Tannehill can take the steps to become a great QB.no comments
We were lucky enough to have ESPN’s NFL Business Analyst and former Green Bay Packer Vice President Andrew Brandt answer a few questions for us on the NFL free agency period.
Andrew a salary cap and negotiating expert filled us in on a little contract talk 101.
1) What type of ways/tricks do teams and players use to make contract look attractive for both player and team to public?
Andrew: Using the total value of the contract, rather than the early money or guaranteed money is often used to get headlines about the deal. The overall contract number, over five or six years, means very little in practical terms. It would be relevant in the NBA or MLB but not in the NFL, where there are no fully guaranteed contracts except for the top of the first round.
2) What metrics do organizations use to set the market for players?
There are a lot of salary research and comparables to be used, but the real question is where the player is in his contract stream. If he has remaining year or years left, the team should be entitled to a discount. If the player is a free agent, then the team may have to pay "retail" or whatever the market will bear.
3) What are a couple of ways teams can get in trouble trying to play with the cap too much?
This is what I call “short-term gain for long-term pain." Sometimes restructuring contracts or structuring them with low first-year cap numbers is just pushing off the problem. Ideally, a team should "pay as you go" with equal Cash and Cap spending, but a team needs to get ahead of the curve, with ample cap room, to do that.
4) Any thoughts on the Mike Wallace contract?
First reports were stunning, but it seems to fall in line -- over a three-year period -- with the marketplace below Johnson/Fitzgerald. I believe its $36M over three years, the same as Bowe and V. Jackson and similar to Harvin. Wallace was at the fortunate intersection of being the top WR in the market and a team in need of his special skills.
Once again we would like to thank Andrew for taking the time to talk us. You can follow him on twitter @adbrandt.no comments
It’s time to have a little fun here at Phins Phocus. Yesterday I got on the phone with Yahoo’s fantasy football Guru Brad Evans to talk a little fantasy football. We here at Phins Phocus wanted to give you a little help building your fantasy football roster and making you draft day decisions a little easier. We also asked Brad a couple of questions on which Dolphins might have some fantasy upside.
Brad not only knows just about everything in terms of the fantasy football but also brings a witty comedic spin on it as you will see in my interview with him.
Q: Is Michael Vick the first overall pick this year?
A: No, absolutely not! But Vick obviously has great payoff potential and clearly the top QB this year. I am even in the minority in ranking him number one, because most people go with the safe pick, but I think that even if he doesn’t repeat his stellar year last year he could be good for 25 points a game. There is a lot of injury risk there with Vick though. Foster is still the clear #1 in my books even without Vontae Leach.
Q: Top 3 undervalued players in FF this year:
A: 1) Mikel Leshoure RB Lions (Take note that like Leshoure, Brad is a university of Illinois Alum)
He is a great talent, like Mendenhall who also went there and most think they are similar but I think that Mikel actually has a better skill set. He is also in a good situation and if Stafford can stay out of the Wheel Chair then I think Leshoure could put up 1,100 yards.
2) Kyle Orton – Most people expected him to go to South Beach, but now that he is staying in Denver and the Angels aren’t opening up their wings for Tebow anymore he has the potential to have another great year. Remember he was a top 5 QB for the first 10 games basically last year.
3) Mike Sims Walker- We have seen flashes from him before and has had WR2 WR 3 upside, but with MSW it’s all about his work ethic.no comments
One of the big question marks going into this season is who will be the Miami Dolphins' starting free safety. There aren’t many positional battles on this roster so the biggest one probably comes at the back end of the secondary. 2009 5th-round draft pick Chris Clemons will battle it out this offseason with 2010 5th-round draft pick Reshad Jones. Both players have had their success and fair share of struggles. It will be a very competitive battle to see who lands the starting job. Both players show plenty of upside. We had the good fortune to interview with the current Dolphins' starting free safety Chris Clemons to see what he thinks of this competition.
1) How do you feel about going into year two of Mike Nolan’s defense?
I feel really good about going in year two. I am much more comfortable with the scheme and it seemed that every game things were coming easier to me.
2) Do you still feel there is room for improvement on this defense?
I feel there's always room for improvement. We can always create more turnovers giving the offense more opportunities.
3) What do you think the biggest hole in this defense is?
I don’t think there’s really a big hole, I think we have to be more balanced. Have to stop both the run and pass every game.
4) Do you think you have the best dreads in Miami since Ricky?
Yeah I feel like I have the best dreads since Ricky.
5) What do you think you need to improve in your game to put you over the top?
I think I have to come down with more balls especially the deep balls. I think I have to take more chances when I have the opportunity.
6) Do you and Reshad Jones have a good relationship or is it purely competitive?
Yeah we have a good relationship but when we step in-between the line it's all competitive. I like to compete no matter who it's against.
7) What’s your overall goal for 2012?
My overall goal for 2012 is to win the division then the Super Bowl. Personally, my goal is to be one of the top safeties in the league. Make more plays than I did a year ago.
This summer has been a complete mess! The lockout has depressed the sports world and has left many football fans very bitter. If there is one thing football fans can agree on, it’s that we all want this lockout to end. During these rough times, tons of information has been put out there BUT there is also a lot of behind the scenes stuff going on that only NFL insiders know about. That being said, I went out and got an interview with NFL Network lockout specialist Albert Breer (@albertbreer). Here is everything Albert informed me about the lockout and a few things you might not be aware of.
1) What are a few things the fans know the least about in this whole lockout process?
I think the one thing that’s been glossed over, at times, is the magnitude of this negotiation. Since 1993, the parties have basically been renewing the previous CBA, and so this kind of change in the way the deal is structured really is a once-in-a-generation thing. Or at least you’d hope it is. The owners are looking for a deal that can work for a couple decades going forward, and the players are looking, under new leadership, to set a tone for the future of this relationship. Some very long-term interests are at stake here, and the end result could be another long period of labor peace. All things considered, if this thing gets done soon, I’d say getting that would be worth the pains of the last few months.
2) How would you describe Goodell and De Smith’s relationship?
I don’t think it was bad before, so much as it was non-existent. The advantage that Gene Upshaw and Paul Tagliabue had in knowing each other was important in past talks, and I think that’s something that Smith and Goodell have had to develop, and I do think it’s getting there. Ultimately, it won’t be what gets a deal done – Deadlines and threat of losing money do that nicely. But having the leadership of each side understand where his counterpart is coming from, and having a common goal (a lucrative future for everyone) certainly helps with the pace of talks, and helps each side ride out the inevitable bumps of negotiation. The progress of the last few weeks is due to the looming scheduled start of training camps. But I think having Goodell and Smith build a rapport is certainly a contributing factor to things moving along.no comments
NFL Network has hooked us up once again. NFL insider Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora ) gave us some of his time to give Phins Phocus a little exclusive preview on free agency. We asked Jason several questions about the Dolphins and what to expect when the lockout ends. Jason is the NFL Network's inside man and has all the scoop so you should make sure you take what information he gives us very seriously.
1) What are your thoughts on this year’s free agency crop?
Well, if it includes fourth-year guys as GMs are suspecting, then its a nice crop. Deep at receiver in particular. Some nice DBs. Not a ton of linebackers and biggest shortcoming is with pass rushers.
Won't be finding too many franchise rushers or quarterbacks or stud left tackles, but its a better, younger group than what was on the open market last year, for sure.
2) What kind of trades do you expect this off-season?
I don't expect a ton of them. Kolb, Haynesworth, McNabb, Osi, Steve Smith will be guys we hear a lot about, but I suspect one two of them actually get dealt in the end.
3) When do you expect the Titans' decision on Vince Young to be made?
Well, the decision has been made to move on from him. The owner said as much. I figure they go ahead and release him shortly after the lockout.
4) Does your gut still tell you Carson won’t be traded?
We have done it again at PhinsPhocus! We’re proud to bring you another of NFL Network’s head analyst. Michael Lombardi is an NFL insider on NFL Network and a frequent contributor to NFL.com. Lombardi has a very impressive resume having worked in San Fran, Philly and Denver’s front offices. Lombardi is a go to guy for most fans for any breaking news around the league.
In my talk with Mike on the phone, we spoke about the Dolphins, the lockout, the offseason, and even a little bit about the Boss (Bruce Springsteen for those people not living on planet earth)
Daniel Eliesen: Being a former NFL exec, how do front offices around the NFL prepare during the lockout?
Mike Lombardi: Well, it’s the first time this has happened, so it’s important that the teams use their time wisely and evaluate players around the league and opponents. Teams also have to look into which college free agents to sign and start to get ready for the first couple of games of the season.
Daniel Eliesen: Organizations can’t speak with their players, but have GM’s around the league still been talking?
Mike Lombardi: I believe there is some communication, not on specifics though.
Daniel Eliesen: If they do indeed strike a deal before July 4th, how will it affect this NFL season?
Mike Lombardi: It will get work started right away; teams will start building chemistry of their players and will have to find players to fit their needs certainly.
Daniel Eliesen: You were a big supporter of Mallett to Miami; do you think they missed out?
Mike Lombardi: Well they made their choice based on what information they have on him and what is out there on free agency, so we’ll have to see.
Daniel Eliesen: What do you think Miami’s free agency approach will be? Big money RB or a vet QB?
Mike Lombardi: I don’t know. They clearly like Thomas trading up for him, so I think he will be a key part of their offense for them but I think they might go after a RB as a compliment to him but they have a lot faith in him and I am sure they will certainly look at what to do about the QB situation.
Daniel Eliesen: What kind of market do you think there will be for Ricky and Ronnie?
Mike Lombardi: Hard to say. It will be a quick market with teams moving quickly, and teams will be doing a lot of accessing but it depends on the overall interest in the RB market.
Daniel Eliesen: What do you think will be the first line of breaking news when the lockout ends? Kolb?
Mike Lombardi: I think it will be hectic, rapid fire and a lot of different free agents being signed right away. Kolb might take time because there is a lot involved in making a trade so free agents will go first.
Daniel Eliesen: I asked Charles Davis about the direction of the Dolphins and he said he expects them to be in the mix. Do you share his thoughts?
Mike Lombardi: Well they have a really good team. They need to avoid injuries and get strong play from their offensive line but at the end of the day if they have solid play from the QB they have the elements to be a very strong team.
Daniel Eliesen: In honor of Clarence Clemons, what is your favorite Bruce song?
Mike Lombardi: Too Hard! I could never say just one song. Impossible but if I had to pick a song in honor of Clarence I would go with “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.”no comments
I had the pleasure of doing a phone interview with NFL Network and FOX Sports analyst Charles Davis. For some of you who don’t know Charles (@CFD22) , he spent his college years as a defensive back for the Tennessee Volunteers and became one of the biggest voices in the football world. Whether it’s on NFL Network doing NFL Total Access, Path to the Draft, or on FOX doing play by play on Sundays, Charles is one of the brightest football minds out there.
I wanted to pick Charles’s brain on a couple of Dolphins and also general NFL questions. Below is my interview with Charles Davis.
Daniel Eliesen: What are your thoughts on Chad Henne? Can he be the guy in Miami?
Charles Davis: I definitely thought so two years ago, but now I am not as sure as I was then. I called a Dolphins game a bit back, it was a Lions game and Henne had a great 3 quarters but down the stretch he started to make mistakes and that’s when I realized he needed to get his act together a bit. I still think that he can start next season but the Dolphins will definitely have to consider other options, but I do think that Henne will take the steps next year and take the starting job.
Daniel Eliesen: With the progress of the Jets and the consistency of the Pats, how far away do you think Miami is from the division or even playoffs?
Charles Davis: I don’t think there that far off right now. In fact, I was talking to a friend of mine in the Jets organization and I told him I think that Miami is the team to watch out for. Solid running game, a Mike Nolan defenSe, the addition of Brandon Marshall and Cam Wake coming off the edge. There are a couple of pieces that they need to look into, like the running game and whether or not to bring back Ronnie and Ricky but a Mike Nolan defense in it’s second year should be very solid. There not that far off right now but Henne is obviously the key. I think their still in the mix, and it also depends if the team wants to get behind Sparano who is on the ultimate hot seat.
Daniel Eliesen: You’re very in touch with the college game. How do you feel Miami did in this year’s draft?
Charles Davis: Pretty nicely. I think they hit all their needs with quality players. Pouncey was a no brainer and Gates will give them speed and I especially liked the runner Thomas even if Ronnie and Ricky are back.
Daniel Eliesen: How often do you go home after a long day and just go DAMN I wish this lockout was over?
Charles Davis: Every day man, every day. We all do. We want it for all of us, for the fans, for the analyst, for the merchandisers, the hotel owners, the concession stands, everybody is getting hurt by this lockout. Football is a part of who we are.
Daniel Eliesen: You call games on FOX. How much work do you guys put in behind the scenes before each game?
Charles Davis: Well we get to the city on Friday, and we go to the home team’s practice, we speak to the coaches, the coordinators, and some players and then the team’s media people and we try and figure out as much information as possible before the game. We will also try and talk to a local guy we know and get the scoop, and as soon as we’re done calling a game right away we get started for the next week. We certainly put in our work.
Daniel Eliesen: Knowing that you’re a former Volunteer, does that mean your Manning over Brady?
Charles Davis: Well yeah, we Volunteers got to stick together, so I’ll go Manning, but I certainly wouldn’t shed a tear if Brady was my QB either. We got a saying though VOL for life, so yeah I’ll stick with Peyton.
Daniel Eliesen: Lots of guys come on the NFL Network, which player has impressed you the most with his NFL knowledge?
Charles Clay: The guy I work with Warren Sapp. His knowledge of football and of assignments and where to be and understanding of the game is amazing. I call him Professor Sapp. You wouldn’t think because he is a defensive linemen he would be so knowledgeable, but it’s amazing watching him talk football and the terms that he knows. I try to take it all in when he talks. So I could chose a lot of guys but Ill go with Sapp.
Daniel Eliesen: This is a bit of a fan question but do you ever sit there and just think I got the best job in the world?
Charles Davis: All the time. I try not to do it on air and to focus but when I am alone or I am tired or stress you just realize how great this job is. I have plenty of guys who wouldn’t mind being in my shoes.
In the 2008 NFL draft, 32 teams decided to pass on Davone Bess seven times. Despite being a stand out WR for the University of Hawaii and a member of the WAC first team in both his freshman and sophomore year, not one team selected Davone in the seven rounds of the 2008 draft. After being signed as an undrafted rookie in 08, Davone was able secure a roster spot. Well a lot has changed since 2008. Bess has quickly become the number 2 WR in the Miami offense and one of the leagues best slot WR’s.
Bess racked up 79 catches for 820 yards and 5 TD’s last season and was the Dolphins most reliable source for offense throughout the year. For those of you fantasy football lovers out there, Bess is an absolute PPR stud.
Not only is Davone a stud on the field but off the field as well. Thanks to his manager Chris, I was able to set up a phone interview with Davone and ask him a couple of questions about many different issues. I want to thank Davone so much on behalf of Phins Phocus for giving us this opportunity. So without further a due, here is my interview with Miami Dolphins’ WR #15 Davone Bess.
Daniel Eliesen: I got this interview through twitter and the help of your manager; clearly you’re all over social media and feel it’s important to connect with your fans. So why is it so important to you to have this type of connection?
Davone Bess: Our fans are a part of who we are and people and the media can’t understand and appreciate the relationship players can have with fans. I appreciate my fans, and want them to know the guy under the helmet. I want them to know I’m just like them. I put one leg in my pants one at a time too.
Daniel Eliesen: A lot of fans don’t really care who started the lockout, they blame both the players and owners. So what do you suggest fans do this year if there’s a lockout?
Davone Bess: I can’t see this world without football. I could imagine there is going to be a lot of angry people out there including players. But I would just suggest to wait it out and hope for the best.
Daniel Eliesen: With all your time in the off-season have you worked on a TD dance yet?
Davone Bess: No dancing for me. I take this stuff seriously it’s like a business to me. But I do plan on getting into the end zone a lot.
Daniel Eliesen: How did you feel about the whole coaching search this off-season, did the guys get behind Tony?
Davone Bess: Up to this point we know Tony is the guy. I believe he is the right man for the job. He keeps us very structured and we’re looking to forward to this upcoming season with coach.
Daniel Eliesen: Have you been in touch with Henne at all?
Davone Bess: Ya man, I see him a couple a times a week. We make sure to keep the chemistry strong and work on routes and make sure our timing is good.
Daniel Eliesen: With Pennington most likely gone, who do you see stepping up as the leader for this offense?
Davone Bess: A lot of candidates, but I wouldn’t point to a guy and say you need to step up, more of guys showing by their actions. We have a lot of guys who have the qualities and are capable, but we got to come together as a team first. We’re currently a work in progress but I think we’re heading in the right direction.
Daniel Eliesen: Do you still use the fact you weren’t drafted as motivation?
Davone Bess: It’s my number 1 motivator. Not a day goes by where I don’t relive draft day, but I’d have to say I prefer this path because it always leaves me hungry and wanting more and to prove myself.
Daniel Eliesen: So I know before games you like to pump yourself up by putting on your headphones on and blasting to music. What music you listen to before game time?
Davone Bess: Lil Wayne, Drake, Wiz, Bob Marley, John Legend, I got a weird collection on my Ipod.
Daniel Eliesen: Which team do you enjoy playing the most?
Davone Bess: Every opponent is the same to me but I would have to say division games probably because you see the teams twice a year, and New England gets you fired up because you know what to expect from them.
Daniel Eliesen: Goals for the upcoming season?
Davone Bess: Every team is different every year. I always believe in shooting for the stars and the best will come from that. We want to win a Super Bowl obviously, but we got to start somewhere. Starting with the playoffs or the division would be nice.
Daniel Eliesen: So rumours are going around that Miami might be interested in Plax. What do you think about that?
Davone Bess: Honestly, if he can help contribute, and help us get to where we want to be then I don’t see why not but that’s not my decision. He’s a great player though. I grew up watching him. He’s a guy if you throw the ball up there he can go get it for you.no comments