AFC East: Hall of Fame

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This is the first of three plays nominated as the most memorable play in team history. In the next two days, we’ll also feature: Legendary coach Don Shula's “Hook and Lateral” play call in the 1982 divisional playoffs against the San Diego Chargers; and Greg Camarillo's 64-yard overtime touchdown catch in 2007 that prevented Miami from becoming the NFL's first 0-16 team. Please vote for your choice as the Dolphins’ most memorable play.

Score: Dolphins 28, Jets 24
Date: Nov. 27, 1994 Site: The Meadowlands

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Which is the most memorable play in Dolphins' history?

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Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino threw 420 total touchdowns as a member of the Miami Dolphins. But no touchdown pass was more clever and more memorable than his fake-spike play against the rival New York Jets in 1994.

In an important division game, the Dolphins fell behind 17-0 in the third quarter and looked out of it. But Marino rallied Miami with 28 second-half points to pull off the 28-24 win.

Marino's most important throw came on the final drive. Trailing by three points, the Dolphins were deep into New York’s territory. After the Dolphins made it to the Jets' 8-yard line with the clock running, Marino yelled on the field "Clock, clock, clock!" while motioning to spike the ball with his right hand. Jets players froze at the line of scrimmage. But instead of spiking the ball, wide receiver Mark Ingram ran a quick out and beat a confused Jets cornerback Aaron Glenn for the game-winning touchdown. Glenn was picked on and allowed three touchdown passes by Marino in this game.

At the time, this November game had first place on the line in the AFC East. The Jets collapsed after this loss and went winless in five straight games to end their season. The Dolphins went on to win the AFC East, advance to the playoffs and lost in the divisional round. The wily veteran Don Shula outcoached a young Pete Carroll in this game.

Ingram and Marino were in the zone together. Ingram caught nine passes for 117 yards and all four of Marino’s touchdowns. But the pair were especially in tune on the fake-spike play. This remains the defining play in the career of Marino, who is the best player in Dolphins history.

Traveling back to Miami

August, 5, 2013
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NORTHEAST, Ohio – It’s been a fun and historic trip to cover Hall of Fame weekend. The AFC East blog was present for Saturday’s Class of 2013 enshrinement and Sunday’s game between the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys.

Now, it’s time to go back to Miami headquarters. I will be traveling from Ohio the rest of the afternoon and the evening.

See you when I get back to sunny Florida.

Dion Jordan continues to progress

August, 5, 2013
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CANTON, Ohio – The Miami Dolphins are still bringing No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan along slowly after February shoulder surgery. His work has gradually increased in training camp, and Jordan played only on third-down situations in Miami's 24-20 preseason loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

But Jordan made the most of his limited reps by impacting Sunday's Hall of Fame Game. He recorded two tackles and two quarterback pressures in his NFL debut.

Jordan was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise sloppy game for Miami.

“I’m practicing my butt off so I will be prepared when the [regular] season and games come,” Jordan said in the locker room Sunday night. “As far as when I get out there [more] and timetables, you have to talk to coach. They’re letting me know what I have to do to get prepared.”

Jordan's best play happened in the third quarter. He sprinted around the edge and forced Cowboys quarterback Nick Stephens to move in the pocket and into the arms of Miami teammate Derrick Shelby.

On that play, Jordan showed the explosiveness, fluid movement and aggressiveness getting to the quarterback that Miami needs this season.

“I looked like one or two times he got adequate pressure and got around the quarterback a little bit,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said. “We will take a closer look at the tape.”

Jordan’s workload will continue to increase in training camp and the preseason. He’s currently behind second-year defensive end Olivier Vernon on the depth chart.

Miami’s defensive line is arguably the deepest unit on the team. Performances Sunday by Jordan and Shelby (two sacks) further proved that point, but Jordan is looking for more.

“We can be really deep,” Jordan said of his fellow defensive linemen. “The front line starts it all off and it works its way to the [backups]. It’s good that we got pressure on the quarterback, but we have to finish as a unit. As a defense, we have to do better.”
CANTON, Ohio -- The new-look Miami Dolphins' offense could not get off to a worst start to the 2013 preseason. After spending millions on new weapons and earning a nice preseason buzz, their first play from scrimmage was a fumble in Sunday night’s 24-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill attempted a hand-off to starting tailback Lamar Miller for a routine running play. However, the ball bounced off Miller and fell forward into the hands of Dallas defensive tackle Nick Hayden. Tannehill was credited for the fumble, but much of the blame appeared to be on Miller.

Tannehill wasn’t sure how things went wrong.

“I guess Lamar and I aren’t on the same page,” Tannehill said Sunday night in the locker room. “It’s frustrating to start off like that. You come out, and something as simple as a hand-off goes awry. It’s definitely something that we will get corrected and it won’t happen again.”

The first play pretty much set the tone for the rest of the night, particularly with Miami’s starting offense.

The Tannehill-led Dolphins failed to produce points or move the ball with any consistency in two-and-a-half series of work. Miami’s offensive starters began a third series but were pulled by head coach Joe Philbin after Tannehill made a pair of completions. Tannehill finished the night 2-of-5 passing for 11 yards and a fumble.

Besides some strong runs by Miller, who had 21 rushing yards on two carries, there wasn’t much good to take out of this game for Miami’s starting offense. This group will go back to the drawing board to tighten some things up this week.

The good news for Miami is the preseason is just beginning. This team has a total of five exhibition games leading up to their regular-season opener against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 8.

Miami’s next preseason game will be Friday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. After Sunday’s sloppy performance in Canton, there’s nowhere to go but up for Miami’s starting offense.

“It wasn’t our cleanest game or our best game,” Tannehill said. “I’m glad we can get that one out of the way early. We have four more preseason games before we get into the regular season. So hopefully this was our sloppy game.”

Live from the Hall of Fame Game

August, 4, 2013
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CANTON, Ohio -- The Miami Dolphins are set to take the field in about an hour for the first time in the 2013 season. They will play the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game at 8 p.m. ET.

This is the first of five preseason games for Miami. Expect the Dolphins to limit playing time for their starters. For example, starting receivers Mike Wallace (groin) and Brian Hartline (calf) haven’t done much in warm-ups so far. Nothing is official, but there is a good chance that at least one or both receivers won’t play.

Check back with the AFC East blog tonight for more on the Dolphins from the Hall of Fame Game. You can also follow me on Twitter for live updates from Canton.

Dolphins Hall of Fame Game preview

August, 4, 2013
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CANTON, Ohio – The Miami Dolphins will have their first preseason game Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET against the Dallas Cowboys in the annual Hall of Fame Game. There have been a lot of interesting developments during the first two weeks of training camp, and now we get to see Miami in a game scenario.

The AFC East blog will be live in attendance for the first preseason game of the NFL season. Here are five things to keep an eye on from Miami’s perspective:

No. 1: Offensive line

Analysis: This has been Miami’s weakness unit through two weeks of training camp. The Dolphins’ offensive line has been pushed around for the most part and lacks depth. An injury to starting guard John Jerry has caused the coaching staff to scramble. The Dolphins have tried out multiple replacements such as Josh Samuda, Nate Garner and Dallas Thomas. Right now there are more questions than answers. But Sunday’s game will be a good opportunity for this much-maligned unit to show improvement.

No. 2: Miami’s passing game

Analysis: Miami starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill has a lot of new weapons, and this will be the first chance to show them off in a national game. Starting receivers Mike Wallace (groin) and Brian Hartline (calf) are nursing injuries this week and will be game-time decisions. But Tannehill, at the very least, will throw to new tight end Dustin Keller and receiver Brandon Gibson. All of these players need to be on the same page by Week 1. Playing against another team for the first time presents a good challenge.

No. 3: Second starting cornerback

Analysis: Veteran corners Dimitri Patterson and Richard Marshall have battled back and forth with the starters. This competition won’t be settled until there are preseason games. Patterson currently has the hot hand and has shown good quickness and athleticism. Both players could get a lot of playing time in sub-packages, but only one can start opposite Brent Grimes. This is the time for one of these veteran corners to step forward.

No. 4: Kicking battle

Analysis: Miami’s kicking competition between rookie Caleb Sturgis and veteran incumbent Dan Carpenter is about even after two weeks of camp. It will probably take several preseason games to determine this one. Sturgis is the favorite because he’s a fifth-round pick scheduled to make just $405,000 this season. Carpenter is on Miami’s books for $2.68 million if he makes the team. Therefore, if the competition is close, the edge goes to the rookie.

No. 5: Which unknowns will step up?

Analysis: With five preseason games for Miami this year, look for many of the Dolphins’ backups to get extended playing time Sunday. That means this is a golden opportunity for lesser-known players to shine and make a push for roster spots. Several players who come to mind are tight end Michael Egnew, receiver Jeff Fuller, tight end Kyle Miller and rookie linebacker Jelani Jenkins. These are the kind of bubble players who must show up in preseason games to make the 53-man roster.

There will be a full report from the game later tonight in the AFC East blog. You can also follow me on Twitter for live updates from Canton before, during and after the game.

CANTON, Ohio -- Bill Parcells' day at the Hall of Fame got off to an unexpected start.

Former pupil Bill Belichick made the trip to Canton to support his mentor, despite their frosty relationship in recent years. The two even shared a somewhat awkward embrace. It was that kind of historic day in Canton to mend fences.

Parcells wasn’t the easiest coach to play for or -- as Belichick would attest -- coach under. But Parcells was one of the all-time great coaches and talent evaluators. That rare combination led Parcells to become the only coach inducted in the 2013 Hall of Fame class.

“Losers assemble in little groups and complain about the coaches and the players in other little groups,” Parcells said, echoing a quote from Hall of Fame safety Emlen Tunnell. “But winners assemble as a team, and tonight I get to do just that."

Parcells was known for turning franchises around. He led the New York Giants and New England Patriots to Super Bowl appearances. Parcells also led the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins (as president) to winning seasons. He spent much of his time explaining his dynamics of building a team with accountability, and also thanked many of the people who helped him become successful.

But an underrated part of Parcells’ legacy is his talented coaching tree. Three Super Bowl-winning coaches (Belichick, Sean Payton and Tom Coughlin) learned how to coach under Parcells. Coughlin and Belichick, in particular, were both in attendance and will someday join Parcells in the Hall of Fame.

Parcells did things his way, and most of the time he was right. The results speak for themselves.

Previewing Hall of Fame weekend

August, 3, 2013
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The AFC East blog is live in northeast Ohio to take in all the festivities from Hall of Fame weekend. That includes Saturday night's induction ceremony and Sunday night's game between the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys.

There will be a live Hall of Fame chat on ESPN.com during the inductions Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. I will be chatting live from Fawcett Stadium in addition to the talented staff at ESPNDallas.com. Feel free to weigh in on the 2013 Hall of Fame class and the induction speeches.

On Sunday, the action moves to the field when the Dolphins face off against the Cowboys at 8 p.m. ET. These are two teams with playoff aspirations getting in extra work during the preseason.

Be sure to check back with the AFC East blog for Hall of Fame coverage. You can also follow my Twitter account for additional insight and analysis.
NORTHEAST, Ohio -- One of the biggest weaknesses for the Miami Dolphins last season was their 27th-ranked pass defense. That is why Miami’s secondary could use at least a series or two against a quality quarterback like Tony Romo.

The Dallas Cowboys wisely will sit Romo in Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game. Romo had back surgery this summer, and Dallas and Miami both have five preseason games this year. Romo threw for a career-high 4,903 yards, 28 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in 2012. That set the table for Romo to get a $108 million contract extension from Dallas.

Miami’s first-team defense will get Dallas backup quarterback Kyle Orton instead. Romo would have been a nice test for Miami’s secondary and particularly its cornerbacks. The Dolphins remade their cornerback position signing Brent Grimes in free agency and drafting rookies Jamar Taylor and Will Davis in the second and third rounds, respectively.

But Dallas is doing the right thing. The most important thing about the Hall of Fame game for both sides is avoiding injury. The Dolphins’ secondary will have to wait until later in the preseason to face a starting-caliber quarterback.
DAVIE, Fla. -- For new Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes, September 9, 2012 carries significance. That was the last time Grimes played in an NFL game.

Grimes tore his Achilles in the regular-season opener with the Atlanta Falcons last year. His long road back to the field will be complete when Grimes plays for Miami Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game.

Grimes will only play in a series or two with Miami's starting defense. But that doesn’t make Sunday's comeback any less significant after nearly a year on the shelf.

“Yeah, it’s cool because I was out and missed all of last year,” Grimes said. “I’ve been doing this (practice) but it’s not the same as actually going in a game. So it’s going to be fun, even though it’s going to be brief probably.”

Grimes, who signed a one-year, $5 million contract with Miami, has been one of the most consistent performers in Dolphins' training camp. Grimes is athletic, consistently around the football and projected to be Miami’s top cornerback in the regular season.

Miami’s pass defense was ranked 27th last year and very inconsistent. The Dolphins are counting on Grimes to stay healthy and add stability to this unit. Grimes has looked 100 percent in camp and has not had any setbacks with his Achilles injury.

“I’m feeling real good,” Grimes explained. “Any time you come into training camp, it’s about getting your timing down and getting back into football [shape]. You can run all offseason, but when you put the helmet and pads on, it’s a whole different kind of shape. I think I’m in a good spot right now.”

Grimes is expected to defend Miami’s best opposing receivers this year. The Cowboys have two good receivers coming to Canton, Ohio, this weekend in Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.
DAVIE, Fla. -- It was Day No. 10 for training camp with the Miami Dolphins. These are the dog days for the players during another hot and humid practice.

Here are several notes and observations:
  • Miami’s rookie cornerbacks showed significant flashes. Third-round pick Will Davis got his hands on the ball a lot on Thursday. He recorded a whopping three interceptions in practice and two pass defenses. It was an impressive day for Davis after some early struggles in camp. Second-round pick Jamar Taylor also participated in 11-on-11 drills for the first time and saw time with the second team. The Dolphins are hoping at least one of these young corners can step up and find a role on the defense this season.
  • Miami receiver Mike Wallace said he had a groin injury, but he described it as a "small setback.” Wallace is optimistic about playing in Sunday’s Hall of Fame game against the Dallas Cowboys. Both Wallace and Brian Hartline (calf) dressed for Thursday’s practice but worked with trainers on the sideline. “[I want it] bad. This is a new situation for me,” Wallace said. “So I want to get out there and just feel it out. I want to feel out this new situation and be with my new teammates and have a great time.”
  • No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan continues to look impressive. What what was interesting Thursday is Jordan got reps both at left defensive end and right defensive end. He got the better of Miami starting left tackle Jonathan Martin a couple times. Jordan’s reps have really increased this week after being brought along slowly due to shoulder surgery.
  • It appears Josh Samuda is the early leader in the clubhouse for the starting right guard position. Miami has been trying out different combinations since starter John Jerry went down in the first week of camp. Samuda spent nearly all his time with the starters on Thursday. Versatile backup Nate Garner is another player in consideration.
  • The Dolphins also got an extended look at backup defensive tackle Kheeston Randall with the starters. Randall got the promotion after the team held out fellow defensive tackles Randy Starks and Jared Odrick. Randall is an intriguing prospect who is having a good camp. He should earn some playing time in the rotation this year.
  • Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill's interception-less streak finally ended Thursday, courtesy of cornerback Richard Marshall. Tannehill had a pass tipped in team drills that Marshall picked off in 11-on-11 drills. Prior to that, Tannehill hadn’t turned over the ball in practice since July 23.
  • Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said “95 percent” of the team's install is complete on both sides of the ball. That means just about the entire playbook will be available to players in Sunday’s exhibition game. The coaching staff has been installing the playbook since the spring in organized team activities.
You heard the collective groans from Miami Dolphins fans last week at training camp. Starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill got off to a slow start during the first three or four practices -- which started some premature panic in Miami.

Not since Hall of Famer Dan Marino have there been so much preseason expectations put on a Miami quarterback. Tannehill had a solid rookie season and won seven games in 2012 with few weapons. This year Tannehill has plenty of new toys, such as tight end Dustin Keller and receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson. So when Tannehill was erratic and threw several interceptions in the first few days of camp, some began to wonder about the second-year quarterback.

However, Tannehill has hit his stride in the past week and has been much more efficient and accurate. Tannehill threw three touchdowns in Monday’s scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium. He also hasn't thrown in interception in more than a week.

Tannehill has built momentum heading into Miami's first preseason game this weekend against the Dallas Cowboys.

“I definitely think I am improving, and that’s what you want to do,” Tannehill said. “You want to come out here, improve every day, learn from your mistakes, don’t make the same mistake twice. I think, not only myself but the quarterbacks in general, we’re doing that.”

The Dolphins and Cowboys will be the first NFL teams to hit the field for the 2013 season in Canton, Ohio, for Sunday's Hall of Fame Game. The Dolphins have earned some preseason buzz after spending more than $200 million in free agency. Miami has playoff aspirations and wants to put on a good showing before a national audience.

Tannehill's limited reps will be watched closely. He may only play a couple series. But it is a chance for Tannehill to show the strides he's made in camp.

“I think it’s exciting,” Tannehill said. “Like I said, it’s a good thing for this team to be able to get an extra week of work in, get a lot of guys some reps, maybe that wouldn’t be able to get as many reps, if we only had four preseason games. I think it’s very crucial for our team to use this time wisely.”

AFC East over/under: Tom Brady

June, 27, 2013
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With training camp just around the corner, the AFC East blog is providing over/under totals throughout the week for key players in the division. On Thursday, we take a look at New England Patriots quarterback and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, who will have a lot on his shoulders this season.

The AFC East blog sets Brady's over/under total at 4,300 passing yards in 2013. Can the signal-caller, who turns 36 in August, reach that goal in New England?

Brady had a lot of change at wide receiver and major issues at tight end this offseason. New England led the NFL in total offense in 2012, but lost both starting wide receivers: Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd. The Patriots are trying to replace them with the injury-prone Danny Amendola and a cast of rookies and average veterans. Tight end Rob Gronkowski (back, arm) is questionable for Week 1 and Aaron Hernandez was released this week after being charged with murder and facing five additional gun charges. Will all this uncertainty affect Brady's production?

Or will Brady continue to thrive regardless of his supporting cast? He’s done it before, and New England has the offensive scheme that can plug in other players. Brady threw for 4,827 yards last season. Is 4,300 yards a reasonable total for this one?

Using our SportsNation poll, vote on Brady’s over/under total of 4,300 passing yards in 2013. You can also share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Here are the most interesting stories Tuesday in the AFC East:
  • New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith says he's not sure if he will attend the Mark Sanchez-led “Jets West” camp.
Morning take: This camp has been organized the past few years for Sanchez to get a better rapport with his receivers and tight ends. It would seem a little odd for Smith to take time and reps away from Sanchez at his own event.
Morning take: This is terrific news for Kelly, who received a scare with cancer of the jaw. Hopefully, Kelly can move on without further complications.
  • New England Patriots linebacker and leader Jerod Mayo says the team has to ignore the noise.
Morning take: New England’s offseason problems are of its own doing. Aaron Hernandez has legal issues, Rob Gronkowski cannot stay healthy and the Patriots brought tons of attention by signing popular quarterback Tim Tebow.
Morning take: This would be another big addition for the Dolphins, who have had a strong offseason. Leach would be a major upgrade over Miami’s current fullbacks: Charles Clay and Jorvorskie Lane.
Bill Parcells, who is a member of the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, told USA Today that the one regret in his standout career was leaving the New England Patriots. According to Parcells, if he could do it all over again, he would have stayed in New England after the 1996 season and continued working for owner Robert Kraft after losing to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl.

It's interesting to think what could have been had Parcells stayed with the Patriots longer. Here are several things to consider:
  • Would there have been a Patriots dynasty in the early 2000s? Parcells was definitely on to something in '96. In typical Parcells fashion, he turned a downtrodden New England franchise into a winner and eventual AFC champion before Parcells and Kraft stopped seeing eye to eye. That caused Parcells to split, and New England went on to hire two coaches: Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick. Carroll was a decent 27-21 in three seasons in New England but could never get the team back to the big game. But things took off once Belichick was hired. Five Super Bowl appearances and three championships later, Belichick is still New England's coach in 2013. Belichick was the assistant head coach and secondary coach in New England during Parcells’ final season with the Patriots. Had Parcells stayed, Belichick might have been groomed to be the Patriots' head coach in waiting. Or another team could have called sooner and offered Belichick a head-coaching job elsewhere. Without Belichick, there would be no Patriots dynasty.
  • Would Parcells have switched from Drew Bledsoe to Tom Brady? Bledsoe was Parcells' quarterback, and the two made it to the Super Bowl together in '96. If Parcells were still coaching the team five years later, would he have had the same foresight to stick with Brady after Bledsoe got injured? Belichick made one of the gutsiest calls in NFL history in 2001 to stay with an unknown, sixth-round pick over a former Pro Bowler. The result was New England winning the first of three Super Bowl titles with Brady, who went on to become one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Parcells had a stronger connection to Bledsoe than Belichick ever did, so the right decision would have been more difficult for Parcells to make. It's even questionable that New England would have drafted Brady in the first place if Parcells were still running the Patriots. Speaking of which ...
  • How would keeping Parcells impact New England’s drafts? One of the reasons Parcells is being inducted into the Hall of Fame is he was one of the rare people who can both coach and evaluate talent at a very high level. But the Patriots also built their dynasty through the draft with Belichick. It started at the top with Brady, the greatest value pick ever, and continued with homegrown talents such as Richard Seymour, Matt Light, Asante Samuel and Vince Wilfork. Maybe New England's rosters would have been just as stout with Parcells calling the shots. But that’s asking a lot.

Overall, things worked out best for the Patriots. They had a few slightly above-average years with Carroll, then hit a home run with Belichick, who also will someday be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

There is little doubt that Parcells would have continued his success in New England. But could he match Belichick’s five Super Bowl appearances and three titles with the Patriots? Probably not.

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