AFC East: Lydon Murtha

AFC East links: Reggie Bush mesmerizes

May, 19, 2012
5/19/12
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Buffalo Bills

The Bills signed second-round pick Cordy Glenn, an offensive tackle from Georgia; the move leaves only one of the team's nine draft picks -- third-round receiver T.J. Graham -- unsigned, Chris Brown reported.

Miami Dolphins

Lydon Murtha told the Sun-Sentinel that he's not ready to cede the starting right tackle job to second-round draft pick Jonathan Martin, the former Stanford left tackle whom the team aims to switch to the right side to challenge Murtha.

On the day he picked up the 2011 MVP from the Miami Dolphins Foundation, quarterback Matt Moore sang the praises of the West Coast offense new coordinator Mike Sherman is installing. And of comments that he's not starter material, Moore said Friday, "When I hear it over and over 100 times it gets a little annoying. I just try to win ballgames and do my best. They'll talk about me when they need to talk about me."

In his second turn as a guest host on her nationally syndicated talk show, running back Reggie Bush "mesmerized" Kelly Ripa on Friday. After Bush presented Ripa with a customized jersey -- his number, her name on the back -- during Friday's "LIVE! with Kelly" taping, Ripa gushed, "I will worship this jersey. I will wear this to bed every night ... think about our time together."

New England Patriots

The Patriots were just doing their due diligence in bringing tight end Dallas Clark, late of the Indianapolis Colts, in for a workout, writes Mike Reiss for ESPNBoston.com. The team already has three tight ends, one of whom -- Daniel Fells -- it signed in March, when Clark was on the market.

Former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson said the recent death of Junior Seau caused him to reflect on his own post-concussion struggles after his 2005 retirement. "If that can happen to him," Johnson told a conference on pediatric concussions, "I've got to be more diligent in how I live my life."

Boston.com columnist Tony Massarotti wonders whether the Patriots are trying to keep Wes Welker, or drive him away.

New York Jets

The Tebow Takeover -- Tim taking over the starting quarterback's job from Mark Sanchez, that is -- is happening, Jeff Darlington writes, with the ongoing Phase 2 a charm offensive that's winning over veteran Jets like Bart Scott and Darrell Revis.

The team made a pair of moves in its scouting department, ESPNNewYork.com reports, promoting Midwest scout Jeff Bauer to director of college scouting; he replaces Joey Clinkscales, who left for the Oakland Raiders. Kevin Kelly, meanwhile, was named an area scout.

Observations on the Dolphins

August, 13, 2011
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Observations on the Miami Dolphins' 28-23 preseason win against the Atlanta Falcons.

More required from Henne: I have been in the Dolphins’ corner all offseason on their approach at the quarterback position: Build the supporting cast around Chad Henne and give him another chance to succeed. His game versus Atlanta didn’t help his cause at all. His first pass of the night was well behind Anthony Fasano, who could not handle it. John Abraham, who dropped into coverage on a zone blitz, intercepted it. It wasn’t as though Henne was confused by the scheme or under a lot of pressure in the pocket. He just missed an easy, short throw to his tight end. His second first-quarter interception also was released from a clean pocket. In this case, it looked as though he just was unable to fit the ball in over the cornerback (Brent Grimes, who made the interception) and in front of the safety in what was most likely a Cover 2 look. That won’t do. I wonder how much the Dolphins fans attending training camp will boo Henne now. To his credit, Henne did improve after throwing the second interception, although he was facing many of the Falcons’ backup defenders.

Miami was the inferior team: When the starters were playing, it was pretty clear the Falcons are the better team. There is no shame in that for the Dolphins, because Atlanta is clearly one of the top few teams in the NFL. But Miami was beaten in just about all areas when both team’s best players were on the field. After Henne’s opening interception, the Falcons totally owned Miami’s defense and promptly made the score 7-0 in dominant fashion.

Line play: I have been singing the praises of Miami’s defensive line this entire offseason. It faced a stiff test against a rugged and well-coached Falcons’ front five that returns four of five starters from a year ago. Atlanta is not especially athletic, but boasts one of the best offensive lines in the league. Miami’s defensive front did not offer much resistance against the Falcons’ downhill power running game. Michael Turner had too many holes to run through.

Offensive tackles: Because the great Jake Long is injured, Miami started Lydon Murtha at left tackle. Newly signed Marc Colombo started on the right side, and Vernon Carey slid in to right guard. Ray Edwards didn’t play for the Falcons, but Atlanta -- led by Abraham -- is still pretty strong at defensive end. Murtha and Colombo are not an athletic pair at all, and they were far from perfect. But they played better than I had expected. Murtha had a tougher outing than Colombo, which is not a surprise. I still have my doubts about Colombo as a starter.

Nolan didn’t show much: This isn’t an excuse for the Dolphins’ front to get abused by simple downhill run plays, but it was pretty clear after watching this game that Mike Nolan didn’t want to put a lot of his defensive playbook on tape. There were very few blitzes and little pre-snap movement. The top guys on the Dolphins’ defense didn’t play a lot of snaps in this contest. The depth of the Dolphins’ defense did show up well as the game went along. I am still very confident that Miami will have one of the best defenses in football this season.

Help me select the 2010 All-AFC East team

January, 19, 2011
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Holmes/Welker/JohnsonUS PresswireSantonio Holmes, Wes Welker and Steve Johnson had successful seasons at receiver in the AFC East.

For the second year in a row, I'm letting readers select the All-AFC East team -- mostly.

Same as with the 2009 all-division squad, I have filled in a few of the no-brainers. I'm asking you to vote on the rest.

I suspect wide receiver and nose tackle to be the most furious battles.

Several receivers had pretty good seasons, but who was the most phenomenal? Steve Johnson had a breakout season with the Buffalo Bills. Brandon Marshall was disappointing for the Miami Dolphins. Wes Welker was solid and made the Pro Bowl, but he slipped below his standard. New York Jets receivers Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes were stars who shared touches.

Bills fans have been rabid in their support of defensive tackle Kyle Williams, but Vince Wilfork was voted to start the Pro Bowl. That should be a good race.

I actually considered three defensive lineman slots, but there has to be some tough decisions. I realize Williams and Wilfork played multiple spots along the line, but the NFL and their teams officially list them as nose tackles, and I wanted to maintain a true 3-4 defensive lineup.

We're also going to be honest to specific offensive line positions. We can't move Jake Long or D'Brickashaw Ferguson to right tackle.

I could go on and on about all the difficult choices readers must make, but I'd rather have them set the tone with discourse in the comments section, where the votes will be cast for everyone to see. I'll leave the ballot box open for the rest of the week.

For your amusement, here's a reminder of my preseason All-AFC East team. I was convinced Logan Mankins wasn't coming back, and who could have predicted Randy Moss would get traded?

Whenever I've asked readers to vote, they've been generally fair and reasonable.

But I will retain veto powers just in case there's a Lydon Murtha write-in campaign.

Vernon Carey substantial loss for Dolphins

December, 14, 2010
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The Miami Dolphins have one of the NFL's best sets of bookend tackles.

They must hope the right side doesn't collapse now that Vernon Carey has been placed on another shelf.

The Dolphins put Carey on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday, a major blow to their tiny playoff hopes. Carey didn't play in Sunday's victory over the New York Jets because of a knee injury. The Jets sacked Chad Henne five times. The Dolphins gained 131 of total offense.

Lydon Murtha replaced Carey against the Jets and is expected to keep the job. The Dolphins will host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in Miami Gardens.

The Dolphins signed receiver Kevin Curtis to help a receiving corps that lost Brian Hartline to hand surgery last week.

Curtis played only three games with the Philadelphia Eagles last year because of a knee injury and later underwent treatment for testicular cancer. His best season was in 2007, when he caught 77 passes for 1,110 yards and six touchdowns.

Dolphins at Ravens inactives

November, 7, 2010
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BALTIMORE -- Inactives for Sunday's game between the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens in M&T Bank Stadium:

Miami Dolphins
Baltimore Ravens

Bonamego firing bothers Westhoff

October, 8, 2010
10/08/10
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From one special teams coach to another, Mike Westhoff sent his regards to John Bonamego.

The Miami Dolphins fired Bonamego on Tuesday morning. Westhoff, the New York Jets' coordinator, said he reached out to let him know others were thinking of him.

"I'm the guy to do it," said Westhoff, who's in his 28th NFL season. "I've been around the longest. I think I know enough that I can talk from experience on both sides of it, from having good days and bad days. ... I know one thing. I know he appreciated it when we talked."

[+] EnlargePat Chung
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyBrandon Fields' blocked punt was just one of three special teams disasters that plagued the Miami Dolphins on Monday.
The Dolphins fired Bonamego hours after the New England Patriots annihilated them 41-14. The Patriots scored 21 points off special teams gaffes: a 103-yard kickoff return, a blocked punt and a blocked field goal.

Westhoff called a play that helped the Jets block a Dolphins punt the week before. As a result, the Dolphins cut linebacker Erik Walden supposedly for not picking up Jets safety Eric Smith on that punt block.

"I helped it happen," Westhoff said of the Bonamego's dismissal, "but it's happened to everybody."

Westhoff coached for the Dolphins from 1986 to 2000. His tenure ended when Dave Wannstedt fired him.

Westhoff said he was disappointed in the Dolphins' decision and sounded bothered Bonamego took the fall alone, with no players getting released, too.

One Dolphins player was at fault for two of the three special teams implosions, Westhoff claimed.

"It's interesting that there was one particular guy that was involved in two of those major breakdowns," Westhoff said. "Frankly, I don't think he could play. I don't want the guy either."

Who could this player be?

"I'm not going to tell you," Westhoff said. "That wouldn't be fair, but there was a common denominator."

Let's try to figure it out.

We can eliminate the blocked field goal as a play Westhoff was referring to for two reasons: 1) It was pretty obvious left wing Lydon Murtha simply let Patriots safety Pat Chung blow right past him; 2) nobody on the field-goal unit was on for punt protection or kickoff coverage.

Only four players were on both the punt and kickoff units: Bobby Carpenter, Patrick Cobbs, Lex Hilliard, Tim Dobbins and Tyrone Culver.

We can eliminate Dobbins and Culver from the discussion because they lined up on the right side for the punt, and Chung's block came through the left. Carpenter was the left tackle. Hilliard was the left wing. Cobbs was the personal protector.

On Brandon Tate's 103-yard kickoff return up the sideline, when he "broke around the edge, he had two unblocked guys," Westhoff said. "Make the tackle."

Carpenter was the first to miss. Nolan Carroll appears to be the other unblocked pursuer Westhoff referred to, and he's not on the other units.

Carpenter, a backup linebacker, was the first-round draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys in 2006, when Dolphins consultant Bill Parcells and general manager Jeff Ireland were there.

"If they had included some personnel with [Bonamego's dismissal], I might have not felt so bad," Westhoff said. "That bothers me. I know the guy worked hard. It's their business. It's not mine. They have the right to decide their own. I respect that, but I'm disappointed when those things happen."

Miami enters bye with not-so-special feeling

October, 5, 2010
10/05/10
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Brandon TateAP Photo/Lynne SladkyNew England's Brandon Tate returned the opening kick of the second half 103 yards for a score.
MIAMI -- With nearly a full quarter left to play Monday night, Miami Dolphins fans started shuffling up the Sun Life Stadium steps and out the tunnels.

The Dolphins had been ahead at halftime yet were down by only 20 points. It might as well have been 200.

A victory was hopeless at that point. Forget their big-armed quarterback. Never mind their superstar receiver. Their potent backfield pair was moot. Their respected defense didn't matter either.

There was no reason to have an ounce of faith in the Dolphins with 14:05 still on the clock against the New England Patriots.

In reality, the Patriots' lead was conquerable. How they accumulated it, however, was completely demoralizing.

In the first 15:55 of the second half, Brandon Tate returned a kickoff for a touchdown, Patrick Chung blocked a punt to set up a quick touchdown and Kyle Arrington returned Chung's blocked field-goal attempt for a touchdown to thrust them toward a 41-14 throttling of the Dolphins.

"It was a mess," Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano said. "It's embarrassing, and these fans deserve better than that."

Special teams doomed the Dolphins so badly you have to wonder if coordinator John Bonamego can keep his job. (Update: Bonamego was fired Tuesday.)

The Dolphins had little shot to be competitive once they surrendered game-breaking after game-breaking after game-breaking play in the kicking game.

"It's just one strike, one big play that just deflates your team," said Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll, who was on the field for Tate's 103-yard kickoff return to open the second half. "It takes the air out of you."

Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne wasn't exactly Dan Marino. Scott Mitchell maybe. Henne threw three bad interceptions, one of which Chung -- you can easily imagine Sparano throwing his head back and shouting to the heavens "Chuuuuuuuuung!!!" -- returned 51 yards for a touchdown to complete the scoring.

But he had a hot start, completing his first seven passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. The Dolphins had a 7-6 lead at the intermission.

"We had momentum coming into the second half," Carroll said. "We felt pretty good about our defense going out on the field and stopping them."

The Dolphins' defense played a solid game. Although it was hardly on the field in the second half, it limited Tom Brady to one touchdown pass and Randy Moss to zero catches for only the fifth time in his career.

About the only thing the Patriots didn't spring on special teams was a fake kick for a touchdown, but that at least would have incorporated the element of surprise.

"It seemed like they drained us," Dolphins linebacker Tim Dobbins said of the special-teams breakdowns. "We tried to fight back, and they just kept making plays and making plays."

Sparano spat out a laugh when asked whether the special teams coach or his players were to blame.

[+] EnlargePat Chung
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyPatrick Chung's block of this Miami field-goal attempt was scooped up by Kyle Arrington and returned 35 yards for a touchdown.
"Next question," he eventually muttered.

The Dolphins stagger into their bye week with a 2-2 record after opening the season with a pair of road victories. That seemed encouraging, a 2-0 start against the Buffalo Bills and the Minnesota Vikings and with all of their home games left. You had to like the Dolphins' chances to make the playoffs.

They're 0-2 at home and facing a rugged second quarter of the schedule. Their next four games are at the Green Bay Packers, versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, at the Cincinnati Bengals, and at the Baltimore Ravens.

Miami has much to think about on special teams, many flaws to correct.

Perhaps the week off will help Bonamego work through some issues. Perhaps it's the perfect time to bring in somebody else.

"It's not him, not at all," Carroll said in defense of Bonamego. "It starts with the players on the field. He can only do so much for us. It's our job to execute. He knows exactly what he's doing. He does his job to a 'T.' Now it's on us to execute."

Brandon Fields, who had two punts blocked in the preseason, had one stuffed for the second straight week -- and on a similar crisscross ploy each time. The New York Jets pulled it off eight days earlier in roughly the same spot on the field. The Dolphins even released linebacker Erik Walden for blowing his assignment.

Sparano said they worked all week on preventing the block from happening again.

On the blocked field goal, a 53-yard attempt by Pro Bowl kicker Dan Carpenter that could have drawn the Dolphins within 10 points, Chung split linemen Lydon Murtha and Joe Berger on the left side.

Sparano said Chung's blocks were unrelated in terms of scheme or philosophy, which, to me, is worse than if there'd been a common thread. That means the Dolphins had two glaring weaknesses Patriots special teams coach Scott O'Brien exploited.

Answers are in short supply.

Fields, Carpenter and long-snapper John Denney weren't interviewed after the game and had cleared out of the locker room by the time Sparano's postgame news conference ended. The Dolphins don't allow assistant coaches to be talk to the media after games.

"It's a bad taste in your mouth," Sparano said, "but we put ourselves in this position. So we're going to have to deal with it. We're going to have to taste it now for the next couple weeks."

Dolphins at Vikings inactives

September, 19, 2010
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Here are the inactive lists for Sunday's game between the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings in the Metrodome.

Most notable is that Minnesota receiver Percy Harvin (hip) doesn't appear, meaning he'll play. Chad Pennington is listed as Miami's third quarterback. Tyler Thigpen was in that role last week.

Miami Dolphins
Minnesota Vikings

Dolphins at Bills inactives

September, 12, 2010
9/12/10
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Here are the inactives for Sunday's game between the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Most notable is Chad Pennington officially assuming the No. 2 role ahead of Tyler Thigpen and the stand-down order to outside linebacker Ikaika Alama-Francis, who might have started but woke up sick in the morning.

Miami Dolphins
Buffalo Bills

Greetings from Land Shark Stadium

December, 6, 2009
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MIAMI -- After a couple days of rain and a chilly night that felt more like Delaware than South Florida, the weather is gorgeous about 90 minutes before Sunday's kickoff in Land Shark Stadium.

The field is awash in sunlight. The forecasted high temperature is 76 degrees.

Big game between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins. I still think the Patriots are the class of the division by a significant margin, but if the Dolphins can score an upset, then they and the New York Jets will be only one game behind the Patriots with four to play.

Buzz in the press box is about Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's finger. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the injury, announced Friday by the Patriots, isn't bad enough to keep Brady from starting.

But there's skepticism over the injury, especially with the way Monday night's game in New Orleans unfolded. Brady threw two interceptions and was pulled from the game with 5:26 to play. His removal was Bill Belichick throwing in the white towel, but now folks are speculating Brady might've been hurt back then.

The entire inactive list for each team:

New England Patriots

Miami Dolphins

Grove, McGee out of Fins-Bills game

November, 29, 2009
11/29/09
12:01
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Here are the lineup scratches from Sunday's game between the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills in Ralph Wilson Stadium:

Miami Dolphins
Buffalo Bills

Dolphins-Patriots inactives

November, 8, 2009
11/08/09
12:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- No surprises on the inactive list for Sunday's game between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium.

Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots

Greetings from Dolphins-Jets II

November, 1, 2009
11/01/09
12:16
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's another gray game day at the Meadowlands, which has been the norm so far this season.

Conditions are cool and breezy but quite pleasant at almost 60 degrees. If the sun were to cut through the haze, it would be a beautiful afternoon for the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets to square off for the second time in three weeks.

Two changes to the Dolphins' starting lineup has been announced in the press box. Ted Ginn, due to his ongoing bout with the dropsies, has been replaced by Brian Hartline at one of the receiver spots. Reggie Torbor will start in place of injured Channing Crowder at inside linebacker.

Here are the inactives:

Miami Dolphins
New York Jets

Good afternoon from Land Shark Stadium

October, 25, 2009
10/25/09
3:15
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

MIAMI -- The sun is shining at Land Shark Stadium, but conditions will be muggy for the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins.

The temperature as of this posting is 81 degrees, and the humidity is 73 percent. Industrial-sized fans already are blowing on the sidelines.

No big surprises on the Dolphins' inactive list, but rookie safety Chris Clemons, a fifth-round draft pick out of Clemson, will make his NFL debut.

Here are the scratches from each team's lineup:

New Orleans Saints
Miami Dolphins

Dolphins finally walk away from Shawn Murphy

October, 20, 2009
10/20/09
6:49
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

The Miami Dolphins admitted their first notable mistake of the Bill Parcells era Tuesday by cutting second-year guard Shawn Murphy and signing 6-foot-7 tackle Lydon Murtha off the Detroit Lions' practice squad.

Murphy will be best remembered in South Florida as the son of baseball star Dale Murphy, but Shawn was fully expected to cut his own swath in the sports world. The Dolphins drafted him in the fourth round out of Utah State last year.

Murphy not only failed to start a game, he didn't dress once. The Dolphins deactivated him every week even though he never was listed on the injury report.

Soon after the Dolphins drafted Murphy, he was surpassed on the depth chart by sixth-rounder Donald Thomas, who a Connecticut coach discovered during a pickup basketball game on campus and didn't start until his senior year.

When Thomas went down with a season-ending foot injury on opening day, the Dolphins plugged in Ike Ndukwe, who'd been released by three previous NFL teams. Rather than trust Murphy enough to put him on the field, the Dolphins churned the waiver wire for guys like Matt McChesney and Evan Mathis.

The Dolphins gave Murphy the chance to assert himself. They inserted him as the first-team guard at the start of training camp, while Thomas was recovering from an injury. The experiment didn't last.

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