Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More on Marshall

Past Interference is all in with the Brandon Marshall trade. However, we can't help but be reminded of the Dolphins' last two trades for established stars. Surely all Miami Dolphin fans are still washing the taste of the 2005 deal of a second-round pick for Duante Culpepper. It's only been five years since that train wreck. And the 2002 swap of two number ones for Ricky Williams from the Saints has proved to be at best a mixed bag, at worst a key factor in the bottoming out of the franchise in 2007. So if you predict the third time's the charm with Marshall you're not exactly going out on a limb. I mainly bring up those painful prior trades simply to note that I was also excited about Ricky and Duante when they first donned Dolphin unis and just look how well it all turned out in the end. So let's hope for the best but prepare for the worst if it blows up in the Dolphins' bottle-nosed faces.

Like I said in my last post PI didn't see this one coming. Mainly because of the Tuna's past history. He won two Super Bowls where his leading receivers were Bobby Johnson (who?) and then Stephen Baker the Touchdown Maker. Neither topped 33 balls or 600 yards in those Super seasons.

Now check out this quote from ESPN's Adam Shefter.

Miami is a surprise destination for Marshall because Dolphins coach Tony Sparano hadn't shown much interest in acquiring him. But football czar Bill Parcells, who has final say on personnel matters in Miami, has never shied away from talented-but-troubled wide receivers, working with Terry Glenn in New England, Keyshawn Johnson in New York and Terrell Owens in Dallas.

Yes, Parcells isn't what I call the shying away type. However, unlike Shefter (who I usually like) Past Interference actually knows something about Parcells' career. Sure Parcells "worked with" Glenn.  Why wouldn't he?  That's what coaches do.  But he wasn't happy about it.  Is this is a secret or something?  I mean the guy was so ticked off about Bob Kraft forcing the Patriots to take Glenn that Parcells actually started referring to Glenn as "She" in press conferences and the Glenn pick sowed the seeds for Parcells' ultimate departure from the team.  Seriously, this made lots of headlines.  It was on ESPN and everything.  And I'm pretty sure Parcells was no happier a few years ago when Jerry Jones foisted his big free-agent haul Terrell Owens on him.  This time Tuna decided to simply refer to TO as "The player" with the press.  Good stuff.  As for Keyshawn, I know of no problems between he and Parcells but again, Parcells didn't draft him and had no say in Keyshawn's addition to the team which came a year before Parcells joined the Jets.  Parcells worked with Glenn, Key and TO but he had no choice is the point.  Two of those guys he plainly did not want around.   He thought he could win without them.  So making the move for Marshall was clearly a break from the old Parcells' way.  Before, he thought he could win without a great wideout.  Now he obviously thinks he can't win without a "talented-but-troubled" wide receiver and he's willing to pay the price to get one.

And the price was high.  Two second-rounders.  The Ravens got Anquan Boldin for a 3rd and a 4th.  The Jets snagged Santonio Holmes for a measly 5th.  But Marshall's four years younger than Boldin and he's better than Holmes (plus he's got 5 inches and 30 pounds on him) (double plus he's not currently slated to miss four games on suspension and he won't be a free agent at season's end).  This couldn't be better for Henne's and Hartline's development. The offense needed this desperately. Too many times last year they couldn't build on a lead when they needed to. Too many times they couldn't come back when they needed to. I don't think Miami's going to have any attitude problems with Marshall. Whatever flaws exist in Sparano's coaching so far, they don't come in the areas of motivation and discipline. The big worry is Marshall's track record of legal run-ins, especially of the domestic violence variety. Let's just hope he's put all that behind him. If not though we'll be prepared. I cleverly titled this post "More on Marshall" so if things should later go horribly wrong I could break out a "Moron Marshall" when the time came.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Brandon Marshall

Well, well, well. The Dolphins' front office manages to shock everybody by and quietly executing a blockbuster trade for the man who, as soon as he steps on the field in a Dolphins' uniform, will be the very best receiver this team has fielded since the departure of the Marks Brothers almost 20(!) years ago. Brandon Marshall. Wow. Miami's woes in the receiving corps need no further explanation on this blog. While there was somce speculation the team would use their first-round pick on Dez Bryant, I assumed they'd address their defensive holes in the draft and stand pat at receiver. And I'd been trying to talk myself into thinking this was in fact the smart move. Looking at it like an optimistic homer we could say that in 2009 Bess assumed a bigger role on the offense, Camarillo was as dependable an option as one could be, and the rookie Hartline looked great while averaged 16 yards a catch. (Ginn, well, even aqua-and-orange colored glasses aren't gonna make that guy look good.) Now with another year of experience for that trio and their QB, maybe the existing talent could take another step forward so that Phins'd be alright enough at the position to address other needs.

But no. Parcells and company crossed us up and made the bold move, swapping two second-rounders for a, shall we say, somewhat controversial player. And I love it. If you had your pick of any receiver in the NFL right now to upgrade your WR corps, who would you take over Marshall? Larry Fitzgerald. Andre Johnson. Calvin Johnson. And who else? Nobody better than Brandon Marshall. Dude's exactly what the team needs. A perfect fit really. A huge target for Henne. Tough to bring down. An amazing physical specimen who can take over games. And he's only 26, still in his prime. Sure there's some "character" issues to worry about but the trade's taken care of some of those issues (wanted more $, wanted to play in Fla.) overnight. This is great for the offense and great for Henne's development. Marshall's police record makes him a bit of a risk but using their number one pick on Dez Bryant would have brought a whole bunch of other risks. At least Marshall's a proven stud.

Let's face it, the cliche that the NFL's a passing league is true. The Dolphins just went from having the worst receiving corps in the AFC East to having one as good as anybody else. It had to be done. I'm just glad I no longer have to talk myself into believing the opposite.

Just a few days before we saw the Jets get Santonio Holmes for nothing more than a 5th round pick. And by all accounts nobody, nobody made the Jets a better offer. Sure the guy's a jackass who's been suspended for a quarter of the season but he's better than any Dolphin who caught a pass in 2009. Yet despite how cheaply Holmes could be obtained Parcells wasn't at all interested in him. Now we know why. Let the Jets have the guy. Miami just got somebody a lot better. (And the Jets know it. They tried for trade for him back in March. Haha).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The New York Jets' Historic Streak Ends

One of the greatest streaks in NFL history has come to an end. This streak lasted for decades and it’s extremely unlikely any team will ever match it, let alone better it. If some team ever does surpass this incredible streak it will probably not be in the lifetime of anybody reading this post. Yet this historic streak and its ending received no press, it got no TV coverage, nobody’s talking about it, and I’m just beside myself that it’s all over.

Since 1960, all the way through the 2010 season, 50 NFL seasons, a half century of football, the National Football League has produced exactly 22 teams who finished a season posting but a single win. Just four teams have gone completely winless in that same time span so we can see just how hard it is for even the worst teams ever to pull off a winless season. 26 of the worst teams ever made a run and 22 of them failed. They failed because some other NFL team proved unable to notch a win against a loser team that couldn’t beat anybody else for a whole entire season.

I first wrote about those teams guilty of Losing to Losers here back in 2007, but now that the first decade of this century is behind allow me to present a complete list of all one-win teams from 1960-2010, with the teams they defeated in parenthesis.

1960: Washington Redskins (Dallas Cowboys)
1961: Washington Redskins (Dallas Cowboys)
1962: Oakland Raiders (Boston Patriots)
1962: Los Angeles Rams (San Francisco 49’ers)
1966: New York Giants (Washington Redskins)
1967: Atlanta Falcons (Minnesota Vikings)
1968: Buffalo Bills (New York Jets)
1969: Chicago Bears (Pittsburgh Steelers)
1969: Pittsburgh Steelers (Detroit Lions)
1971: Buffalo Bills (New England Patriots)
1972: Houston Oilers (New York Jets)
1973: Houston Oilers (Baltimore Colts)
1980: New Orleans Saints (New York Jets)
1982: Houston Oilers (Seattle Seahawks)
1989: Dallas Cowboys (Washington Redskins)
1990: New England Patriots (Indianapolis Colts)
1991: Indianapolis Colts (New York Jets)
1996: New York Jets (Arizona Cardinals)
2000: San Diego Chargers (Kansas City Chiefs)
2001: Carolina Panthers (Minnesota Vikings)
2007: Miami Dolphins (Baltimore Ravens)
2009: St. Louis Rams (Detroit Lions)

As you can see six teams have twice pulled off the feat of falling to an otherwise winless team. But the New York Jets have lapped the field over the past half century, serving as the lone victim to an otherwise winless team an amazing four times! But the amazement doesn’t end there people. Check the years of those four humiliating, embarrassing Jets’ defeats: 1968, 1972, 1980, and 1996. Yep, that’s right, Losing to Losers in the 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s. One loss in four successive decades. Simply incredible. No other team has even done back-to-back decades.

Unfortunately the Jets will have to be satisfied with a four-decade streak. They managed to finish their last ten seasons without once losing to a one-win team. Sad. The 2007 season was their last real shot at one for the thumb but the Jets insisted on toppling the Dolphins twice and forcing Miami to instead beat the Ravens to avoid the ignominy of an 0-16 campaign. But despite the end of their historic streak, the Jets can sit back contentedly knowing the odds of anybody bettering their four-decade streak are practically nonexistent. In recent times we’re only seeing three or four teams a decade go 1-15. And other than the J-E-T-S, Jets Jets Jets, no franchise has managed to lose to a 1-15 squad in consecutive decades. The four teams to fall to a 1-15 team in the last decade will have to do it again in this decade just to have a two-decade streak going. The Jets’ record is totally safe for several decades at least and 31 years from now will be the earliest any franchise would even have a crack at breaking the record should they first be able to set up the loser’s table for a shot at history. We here at Past Inteference mourn the end of the Jets' Losing to Losers streak but given NFL history, their record looks as safe as any record could be.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Your 2009 Miami Dolphins: The Wrap-Up, Part II

Alright, PI hasn’t posted in awhile and I think I know why. Previously we committed ourselves to writing a summation about the performance of the Miami Dolphins in 2009. (We wrote about the quarterbacking separately here.) I was going to take the time to rehash and research everything and do up a thorough analysis of every position. You know, with a stereotypical “grade” for each unit of the team. But I just couldn’t make myself do it. Honestly what would be the point? You can go to plenty of other websites who actually employ people who write stuff like that for actual money. (Better yet try the Miami Dolphins Spotlight, the guy who writes it is awesome. He really puts the work in. He makes me embarrassed to call myself a blogger). Plus, this just isn’t the kind of stuff PI likes to do anyway. We prefer to write about things that either nobody else has thought about or that everybody else has forgotten about. The stupider the better. So just to get back in the swing of things allow me to go ahead and make a few non-thorough observations about the 2009 Fins. And I’m not giving myself anymore homework assignments. This is it!

Last season was basically a big ball of blah. You could call the team's play mediocre though that might be a tad generous. Maybe slightly-worse-than-mediocre. The offense was average. The defense was below average. The special teams were above average. The offense ran very effectively and passed very ineffectively. The defense wasn't too bad at stopping the run but really really bad at stopping the pass. 10 of 16 games were decided by a touchdown or less. Miami won convincingly exactly once. They lost convincingly twice. They won four times at home and three times on the road. They suffered two three-game losing streaks that bookended the season. In between they posted three separate two-game winning streaks. They played commanding football against the league's two best teams. And they found a way to lose both times. They finished 6 games better than the 2007 Dolphins, but four games worse than the 2008 Dolphins. If consistency was the question, then the 2009 Miami Dolphins weren’t…ah let’s just move on already.

The glass half full side? Definitely Jake Long. Miami “earned” the league’s overall #1 draft pick for the first time in like...ever, and in 2008, they used that critical pick on Long. And he’s made the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons. This is important for a couple of reasons. You certainly don’t want to whiff on an overall number one pick. A mundane obvservation right? But just as importantly, the Dolphins had a huge need at QB at the time but passed up top QB prospect Matt Ryan to grab Long. Ryan then played like gangbusters in 2008, looking for all the world like the NFL’s next great quarterback. And no lineman’s gonna be worth more than the NFL’s next great quarterback. But Ryan regressed in 2009 while Long stepped it up. And Henne didn’t look half bad at QB. So hopefully this will continue to play out well for the team--I don’t want to have to write a future post about on the new contender for the title of Worst Draft Pick in Miami Dolphins’ History. Besides Long, Jake Grove and Joe Berger played well at center and Vernon Carey was pretty good too. So the offensive line looked good, especially with an assist from Lousaka Polite at fullback, a real find.

With great blocking up front Ronnie Brown played maybe the best football of his career and 32-year old Ricky Williams played even better. Unfortunately the 28-year-old Brown suffered his second season-ending injury in three years. And Ricky’s now going to be 33-year-old Ricky Williams in a few weeks. So for all we know the team might not have any starting running back 2010’s end. We didn’t see enough from Lex Hilliard to know yet if he’s starting material.

Glass half-empty? That could be generous way of describing the receivers. Ted Ginn. What else is there to say? Miami fans really, really want him to be the deep threat the team desperately needs. Let’s just say that didn’t happen in 2009 and elaborating further would just be piling on, something I’ve probably already done during the course of the season. I’m sure he’s a fine young man trying his best. Devon Bess emerged at Henne’s top target but he had an unfortunate tendency to make mistakes at critical times. Greg Camarillo was the bright spot as far PI’s concerned. The guy’s one of my favorite players right now. I was worried he wouldn’t be able to come back strong from that knee injury but he did and he damn near caught every single pass thrown his way in 2009. Dude was money. And for all the talk about Ginn sucking and Miami needing a deep threat, Brian Hartline looked pretty good for a rookie and averaged over 16 yards a catch. We didn’t see anything from the other rookie wideout Patrick Turner but hopefully he just needed some extra time to adjust to the pro game and is not a lost cause. (I’m an eternal optimist). Lots of talk about how bad this unit is and the need for an upgrade but I’m not convinced that what the team’s already got can’t improve for 2010. (See!).

The defense. Not good. Really not good. Actually, they got worse the farther out you go. The D-Line wasn’t half bad. Randy Starks played very well. Langford and Merling were solid. So was Jason Ferguson but he missed half the season with injuries. But Paul Soliai, ay yi yi. Let’s just say I’m not going to be surprised if the team drafts a nose tackle. But linebackers might be even more of a need. Jason Taylor played great at his new outside linebacker spot and man was it great to see that. But what’s this? He might be leaving again? To go to...THE JETS!!?? This is not happening. This is not happening. I hope this is just some negotiation hardball by the front office. Anyway, Joey Porter regressed so much the team let him go. And Crowder, Ayodele, Torbor? Let’s move on. No really. Get rid of all of them and move on. But bad as the linebackers were the secondary might have been worse. Will Allen played well but of course tore an ACL and missed half the season. Gibril Wilson was a huge bust of a free agent. Vontae Davis played ok for a rookie. I know everybody wants Miami to grab a receiver in the draft but face it, this defense has a lot of holes.

Oh, I guess I have to mention the special teams. They were good. Really good. Sure you’d rather have the offense and defense be really good instead but you get what you get. And we got Dan Carpenter and Brandon Fields doing some fine kicking and punting. And Ginn was a lot better returner than receiver.

Ok, homework's over. Pencils down. We’re done.