Miami Dolphins: 2013 Richie Incognito suspended

Miami morning take: Dolphins' depth

December, 17, 2013
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Tuesday from around the Web:
  • Chris Perkins of the Sun Sentinel reports the Dolphins’ depth is putting the team in position for the playoffs.
Morning take: Miami is getting surprise contributions on both sides of the ball. The backups in the secondary proved to be key with big plays Sunday against the New England Patriots.
  • Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald says the Dolphins’ playoff odds are strong.
Morning take: Win and they’re in. That’s the simplest formula for Miami. But the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets stand in the Dolphins’ way.
  • Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post writes how the Dolphins can clinch a playoff spot this weekend.
Morning take: Miami can get into the playoffs with a win over Buffalo and losses by both the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens. That’s a lot of help, but it’s possible.
Morning take: Incognito will stay away from the team for the rest of the season, with pay, until the investigation is complete. The Dolphins do not need a huge distraction in the final two games.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins have exactly one week to make a roster decision with embattled guard Richie Incognito. He’s currently suspended with pay while the NFL investigates his conduct toward teammate Jonathan Martin, who claims he was bullied and harassed by Incognito.

The Dolphins and Incognito agreed to an extension last month to prolong the suspension, with pay, from four to six weeks. The new deadline is Monday, Dec. 16. The goal was for the Dolphins to have more information on the NFL’s investigation into the matter.

Lead investigator Ted Wells has yet to complete his report. Last week, I reported that Wells met with Martin for a second round of questioning. ESPN’s Adam Schefter also reports that Wells is expected to meet a second time with Incognito and select Dolphins players soon.

I still hold firm to my prediction that Incognito played his last down in Miami. The Dolphins (7-6) are in the playoff hunt and playing some of their best football without Incognito. Miami's offensive line is coming together and the team rushed for a season-high 181 yards Sunday in a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Regardless of who is culpable in this complex saga, bringing Incognito back would cause a huge distraction to a Miami group that’s had more than its fair share. The Dolphins are just starting to get the focus back solely on football. It’s best for Miami to let Incognito go for the final two games of the season.

Miami Dolphins Stock Watch

December, 2, 2013
The Miami Dolphins (6-6) picked up an important, 23-3, victory against the rival New York Jets on Sunday.

Here is a look at whose stock is rising and falling in Miami:


1.Olivier Vernon, defensive end: Vernon has been arguably the biggest surprise for Miami this season. He began the season as an afterthought after the Dolphins drafted No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan this past April. But Vernon won the job in training camp and currently leads Miami with 10 sacks. He had 2.5 sacks against the Jets, and is playing his best football late in the season. Vernon’s production has kept Jordan on the bench all season.

[+] EnlargeBrian Hartline
AP Photo/Seth WenigReceiver Brian Hartline is quietly having a productive season for the Dolphins.
2. Brian Hartline, wide receiver: Hartline is quietly on pace to record back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He consistently beat Jets cornerbacks to the tune of nine receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown. He has a team-high 804 yards this season.

3. Offensive line: Miami’s much-maligned group had arguably its best game against New York’s rugged and talented defense. The Dolphins rushed for 125 yards against the NFL’s top run defense, and most importantly, Miami allowed one sack in 44 drop backs from quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The healthy return of center Mike Pouncey made an impact.


1. Richie Incognito's chances of returning: The Dolphins have the biggest stretch of their season upcoming with a chance of making the playoffs. There is very little chance Miami would take a risk by bringing back the controversial offensive lineman. Backup guard Nate Garner is doing well, and the huge distraction of bringing Incognito back after his suspension would cause a media firestorm. Incognito is eligible to return to Miami on Dec. 16, but he’s most likely played his final down with the Dolphins.

2. Kickoff coverage: This is a small gripe in an otherwise solid performance from Miami. The Dolphins allowed Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie to gain 126 yards on four kickoff returns, which is an average of 31.5 yards. Cromartie’s longest return was for 41 yards. The Dolphins need to tighten up their kickoff coverage against the Pittsburgh Steelers, in what should be a much closer game.

3. Fourth-down offense: The Dolphins took the approach of being very aggressive in Sunday’s must-win game against the Jets. They went for it twice on fourth down in the first half and failed on both attempts. The biggest gaffe was at the 1-yard line where Miami went shotgun and threw a pass out of bounds to the side of the end zone. I like the aggressiveness, but the play-calling on fourth down needs to improve for Miami.

Jonathan Martin is likely done in Miami

November, 30, 2013
Second-year offensive tackle Jonathan Martin most likely played his final down with the Miami Dolphins. That was the biggest takeaway from Saturday's roster move by Miami that placed Martin on the non-football injury list without eligibility to return this season.

The Dolphins waited more than a month to see if there was even a slight chance Martin could play again after leaving the team last month due to harassment and bullying allegations involving teammate Richie Incognito. Saturday's decision is proof that all hope was lost for Martin and the Dolphins in 2013.

[+] EnlargeJonathan Martin
Ron Schwane/USA TODAY SportsIf Jonathan Martin is done with the Dolphins, will the team be able to get value for him in a trade?
In addition, there is a strong chance that you've probably seen the last of Martin in a Dolphins uniform -- period. ESPN's Lisa Salters recently reported that Martin doesn't want to return to the team. And, right or wrong, Martin is not viewed highly in Miami's locker room due to the way he handled the bullying and harassment allegations. Many teammates claimed they were unaware of Martin's issues and believed he could have kept the situation in-house instead of causing a national media firestorm.

The NFL's investigation will eventually prove whether Martin's claims are justified.

The next move is to determine what -- if anything -- the Dolphins can get for Martin. The 2012 second-round pick has talent and started at both left and right tackle for Miami. Starting offensive tackles in the NFL have value. However, Martin also comes with the label -- again, right or wrong -- of being a mentally fragile player. Teams must do their homework if they're interested in acquiring Martin.

Two teams that could have preliminary interest in Martin next year are the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts. San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh coached Martin at Stanford and knows him well. Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck also is a friend and a former teammate of Martin at Stanford. Martin protected Luck's blind side in college. Either team might be willing to buy low and take a flyer on Martin for a late-round draft pick. Martin has the potential to turn his career around if placed in the right situation.

But don't expect Miami to be the right situation for Martin -- or Incognito -- in 2014.

It's best that Martin, Incognito and the Dolphins break up this awful and explosive triangle once and for all.

Extension best for Dolphins, Incognito

November, 29, 2013
The Miami Dolphins simply could not handle the distraction of bringing Richie Incognito back to the team on Monday, when his four-game suspension was scheduled to end. Incognito also had a solid grievance case, because the Dolphins were withholding pay even though the NFL investigation of the bullying scandal involving Incognito and teammate Jonathan Martin is not complete.

That is why the Dolphins and Incognito made the correct move to reach a middle ground with a paid two-week extension of his suspension.

Incognito will earn just less than $1 million from the Dolphins during his time away from the team. That includes two game checks that would've been denied under the original suspension, plus the extended two games of the suspension, against the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots.

For the Dolphins, it buys time for NFL lead investigator Ted Wells to complete his review of the Incognito-Martin bullying scandal by Dec. 16. The Dolphins will be able to make a better-informed decision at that time. The extension works out for both parties.

Still, chances remain slim that Incognito will return to Miami's locker room, regardless of the NFL's findings. Incognito will be an unrestricted free agent in 2014, and there will be only two games remaining following the new agreement on the suspension.

The Incognito-Martin controversy has many layers, and there still remains plenty of gray area that the NFL must get to the bottom of. But in the end, Incognito, Martin and the Dolphins are all likely to go their separate ways.

Double Coverage: Dolphins at Jets

November, 29, 2013
Mike Wallace and Muhammad WilkersonAP Photo, USA Today Sports ImagesMike Wallace's Dolphins and Muhammad Wilkerson's Jets are battling to stay in the AFC playoff race.
The final wild card in the AFC is up for grabs as the Miami Dolphins (5-6) travel to face the New York Jets (5-6) in what is essentially a playoff eliminator. The winner will get to .500 and have an inside track in the crowded wild-card race. The loser will take a major step back with four games remaining.

Which AFC East team will win this crucial game? ESPN Dolphins reporter James Walker and ESPN Jets reporter Rich Cimini weigh in.

James Walker: The Dolphins and Jets will square off twice in December and it looks like both games will be meaningful. I think the common link between these teams has been general inconsistency. The Dolphins started 3-0 in September but are 2-6 since. Their season has been hanging by a thread for quite some time with uneven play on the field and controversy off it, thanks to the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal. Sunday is the kind of game that could make or break the rest of Miami's season.

Rich, the Jets have been just as inconsistent, losing three of their past four games. How vulnerable are they?

Rich Cimini: Pretty vulnerable, James. When you can't score, you're vulnerable in my book. The offense has produced only one touchdown in its last 31 possessions with Geno Smith at quarterback -- yet he remains the starter. I really believe the Jets have reached a crossroads. A win over the Dolphins could springboard them into the final quarter of the season. If they lose their third straight, it could break them. Frustration is building in the locker room. They're at the tipping point.

The Dolphins aren't lighting up scoreboards, either. What's the deal with their offense?

Walker: The Dolphins can't run, can't pass, can't block and can't score touchdowns with any consistency. At times you see flashes in one or two areas. For example, quarterback Ryan Tannehill finally hit a couple of deep balls to receiver Mike Wallace last week, which hasn't been the case all season. If those two can make some big plays each week, the Dolphins have a chance to score more points. But the offensive line has been an issue all year, and it's not helping that they lost two starters in Incognito and Martin. The line has allowed 44 sacks and the running game is 26th in the NFL. The red-zone offense also has been horrendous. The Dolphins haven't scored more than 27 points in a game all season. That's why they are in close games nearly every week.

Rich, Rex Ryan's stock has been all over the place this year. He was projected to be a lame duck in the preseason. Then, a solid start improved his job security. Where does Ryan currently stand?

Cimini: Personally, I think Ryan is doing a good job, considering the circumstances -- turnover-prone rookie at quarterback, second-rate talent at the skill positions and seven new starters on defense. New general manager John Idzik has been complimentary of Ryan in the few interviews he has given, but no one really knows what he's thinking. If the Jets finish with at least seven wins, I think Ryan will be back. He ended the past two seasons on three-game losing streaks, so he obviously has a problem finishing.

I'll shoot the coach question back at you: Is Joe Philbin toast?

Walker: That's a tough question, Rich. There are so many factors involved, such as the future of general manager Jeff Ireland and the NFL's ongoing investigation of Martin's accusations. If Philbin and his coaching staff had any knowledge of the Martin situation -- and that's a big question -- it could lead to his demise. There is more to it than X's and O's. This would be a scandal that happened on Philbin's watch, and the NFL's findings will weigh heavily with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

But strictly on the field, most coaches get three years to implement their programs. A strong finish by Philbin makes a case for him to stay. Ireland is almost certain to be let go if the Dolphins do not make the playoffs. That could lead to the new general manager wanting to pick his own coach or going the Jets' route, where the holdover coach gets one more year to prove himself.

Finally, Rich, why is this Jets team so much better at home? It cannot be only due to the home crowd.

Cimini: You're right, James, it's more than the home crowd. I can't figure it out. It's weird because in the first two seasons under Ryan, they were a mediocre home team and very good on the road. Now they've flipped the script. You can't say they've feasted on an easy home schedule because they beat the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots. Go figure. I will say this: They benefited from a couple of fortuitous calls at home, including the rare "push" penalty by the Patriots while attempting to block a Jets field goal attempt. Most of all, their defensive line has dominated at home -- 21 sacks in five games, holding opponents to an average of 78 yards on the ground. The old saying "defense travels" doesn't really apply to the Jets.

The Miami Dolphins have just a few more days to decide the fate of embattled guard Richie Incognito. He is wrapping up a four-game suspension on Sunday when Miami plays the New York Jets, and the Dolphins must decide on Monday whether to release Incognito or keep the controversial player on the 53-man roster.


What should the Dolphins do with Richie Incognito Monday?


Discuss (Total votes: 3,364)

Here is your chance to decide, Dolphins fans: What should Miami do next week with Incognito?

Should the Dolphins release Incognito? He was part of the biggest scandal in the NFL this year after teammate Jonathan Martin left the Dolphins on Oct. 28 and claimed he was bullied and harassed by Incognito and other teammates. The NFL spent a week in Miami investigating, which caused a further circus. The findings will be released in a few weeks. But should the Dolphins cut bait and avoid further distractions?

Or should Miami reinstate Incognito? The Dolphins’ locker room has spoken and clearly would welcome him back. Incognito was one of the most popular players on the team and teammates did not back Martin’s claims. The Dolphins are on the hook to pay the final few weeks of his salary. Miami may have to pay even more if Incognito wins his grievance against the team.

Using our SportsNation poll, vote on what the Dolphins will do with Incognito. You can also share your thoughts in the comments section below or send me a message on Twitter @JamesWalkerNFL.

Richie Incognito decision one week away

November, 25, 2013
The Miami Dolphins are on the clock.

Suspended Miami guard Richie Incognito served the third of his four-game suspension on Sunday during a 20-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers. That means in exactly one week -- on Dec. 2 -- Incognito’s suspension will be complete and the Dolphins must decide whether to release or bring him back on the 53-man roster.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that there is some momentum for the Dolphins to bring Incognito back to the team. That would be Incognito’s preference as well as the preference of the locker room.

But the big question is this: What does Dolphins owner Stephen Ross think?

Ross was very critical of Incognito and Miami’s locker-room culture when he first got word of the foul language and early details of the Incognito-Jonathan Martin situation. More information has been gathered the past couple of weeks due to the NFL investigation.

Although all the details have yet to be made public in the Incognito-Martin investigation, I still think it is a long shot that Incognito returns next week. Incognito’s potential return would cause another media firestorm that the Dolphins probably want no part of. Miami is still in the playoff hunt and doesn’t need a bigger distraction than it already has created.

McKinnie: Incognito is welcomed back

November, 21, 2013
DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins starting left tackle Bryant McKinnie has been one of the more vocal players during the controversial Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying saga.

McKinnie had another strong opinion on Wednesday: He believes the suspended Incognito would be welcomed back to Miami’s locker room.

“I think he got along with a lot of people in here,” McKinnie explained. “So I don’t think it will be a bad thing if he comes back in the locker room.”

It won’t be that easy for Incognito. Miami’s suspended guard has a grievance hearing on Thursday to determine if he can recoup lost wages. The Dolphins were expected to keep Incognito on suspension for four games before deciding whether to release him or bring him back.

Considering the mess and media firestorm the Incognito-Martin saga has created, it doesn’t appear likely that Incognito will return to the Dolphins. However, veteran teammates such as receiver Brian Hartline, center Mike Pouncey and McKinnie have gone on record to say Incognito could return to Miami’s locker room.

“I never had an issue with Richie,” McKinnie said. “The comments that he made on the guy’s answer machine, Richie apologized and stuff for that. I don’t know. What do you want me to bully him because of that now? I don’t understand what people want from this situation.

“There’s only so much you can do. It wasn’t meant for everybody to hear. That was a way they communicated, I think, between those two. So he apologized. You can’t hold a grudge. At the end of the day, if Richie comes back and he’s able to help us win more games probably. So I never had an issue with him.”

Miami morning take: Ireland interviewed

November, 21, 2013
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Thursday from around the web:
  • Jeff Darlington of the NFL Network reports NFL lead investigator Ted Wells interviewed Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland for two hours in regards to the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga.
Morning take: Ireland is one of the leaders in the building, and the NFL wants to find out how much he knew about the relationship between Incognito and Martin. Ireland already is on thin ice, and this situation could further impact his job security if he has any culpability in this situation.
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports FOX has made the Dolphins-Carolina Panthers contest its national game at 1 p.m. ET.
Morning take: It makes sense because this is a game with many storylines. You have the drama in Miami and the stellar play of Carolina on the field.
  • Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel reports center Mike Pouncey (illness) may try to play Sunday against the Panthers.
Morning take: Pouncey was adamant that he wants to play. But it may not be his decision. Keep an eye on Pouncey’s progress over the next few days.
Morning take: Jordan is one of the most talented pure athletes on the team. Miami has even used him to cover tight ends. He should get an expanded role during this stretch run.
DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins are in the middle of an important investigation by the NFL. At the center of it is the offensive line, the unit that worked closely with suspended guard Richie Incognito and embattled right tackle Jonathan Martin.

Several Dolphins offensive linemen confirmed Wednesday that they had interviews with the NFL. These are the players who best know Incognito, Martin and the relationship between them that eventually led to bullying and harassment allegations by Martin.

“Everything went very well. So we will see how it goes,” Dolphins center Mike Pouncey said of the investigation. "We were in there for a while. They asked a bunch of questions. … It seemed like a long time but it probably wasn't. They got all the questions they wanted to get out of us and we gave them all the trustful answers."

Left tackle Bryant McKinnie joined the team in October from Baltimore. He didn’t know either party well, but said he hasn’t been afraid to voice his opinion on the situation.

According to McKinnie, investigators wanted to pick his brain as a veteran who has played on three different teams and been in various locker rooms. McKinnie estimated his interview lasted about 30 minutes.

"There was four people in there and two people asking questions," McKinnie said. "They’re just trying to gather knowledge from everybody on what really happened and go from there."

Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo also has been vocal and supportive of Incognito. However, Clabo was more tight-lipped about what went on behind closed doors when he met with the NFL.

"Yeah, I did that. They asked us to respect the process of the investigation and to not really go into the details about it," Clabo said. "So I did my time up there and that’s really all I’m going to say about it."

Pouncey, who has spent time with Incognito since the suspension, said he believes the full truth will come out at the conclusion of this investigation.

The Dolphins (5-5) are still in the playoff hunt and have tried to stay focused with a big game upcoming at home against the Carolina Panthers (7-3).

"I feel like we’re all at ease now," Pouncey said. "Now we can just focus straight on football. That’s the most important thing, that we can focus on football so we can win games."

Miami morning take: Tough times ahead?

November, 19, 2013
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Tuesday from around the web:
  • Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes tough times continue for the Dolphins despite their win over the San Diego Chargers.
Morning take: Miami is back at .500 but still has an ongoing bullying investigation by the NFL that could take weeks. The Dolphins must stay focused with big games upcoming against the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • Chris Perkins of the Sun Sentinel writes about the unique week ahead for the Dolphins.
Morning take: Players and coaches will be interviewed regarding Jonathan Martin’s claims of bullying and harassment. The Dolphins put themselves in this situation and must handle it.
  • The Dolphins team site reports defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle wants to expand rookie Dion Jordan’s role.
Morning take: I think this is long overdue. Jordan has made plays with limited opportunities. There’s no reason Jordan can’t take some of Derrick Shelby’s snaps.
  • Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post writes linebacker Philip Wheeler had his best game of the season.
Morning take: Wheeler has had his share of mental errors and missed tackles this year. However, he was sound against the Chargers and registered six tackles and a pass defense.
The Miami Dolphins are getting hit from all angles this week.

In addition to the NFL investigation coming Monday to Davie, Fla., with questions about the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports Incognito’s grievance hearing also is scheduled for Thursday.

Incognito filed his grievance with the Dolphins last week in an effort to recoup the $1.176 million he stands to lose during his suspension. The Dolphins have until Dec. 2 to decide whether to release Incognito or place him back on the 53-man roster. Miami is in the process of making changes and is expected to cut Incognito once the suspension concludes.

Keep in mind, all of this is going on in addition to Miami’s preparation for its big game against the talented Carolina Panthers, who have won five straight. The Dolphins (5-5) are in the thick of the wild-card race in the AFC and need a good week of preparation and focus to win this game.

“You can’t let it [bother you]. You really can’t,” Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick said after Sunday’s win against the San Diego Chargers. “You have to focus on what’s important as a professional and as a player, and focus on your job. There’s always going to be distractions.”

The Dolphins are tied with the Jets (5-5) for the final wild-card spot in the AFC. Miami will play the Jets twice in the month of December.

Can the Dolphins maintain focus?

November, 18, 2013
DAVIE, Fla. -- It’s a big week for the Miami Dolphins organization in so many ways.

For starters, Miami (5-5) put itself back in the playoff hunt with a big win Sunday over the San Diego Chargers. The Dolphins are just a tiebreaker behind the AFC East rival New York Jets (5-5) with six games remaining, and those two teams still play each other twice in December. Miami will prepare this week for a red-hot Carolina Panthers team that has won five straight games.

Second, the NFL's investigation team is coming to town and will ask all the tough questions regarding the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito bullying scandal. Martin met with lead investigator Ted Wells for seven hours last week and provided plenty of material. Miami’s coaches, players and front office will be asked about the situation by the NFL. Based on the findings, it could have major ramifications throughout the organization.

Will the Dolphins allow this huge distraction to impact preparation for their next big game against the Panthers?

“You can’t let it [bother you]. You really can’t,” Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick said of the investigation. “You have to focus on what’s important as a professional and as a player and focus on your job. There’s always going to be distractions. There’s always distractions as a football player, and this is another one.”

The Dolphins have informed their players to be prepared to answer questions. The organization said it would be fully cooperative with the NFL during this fact-finding period.

Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said he will meet with the NFL on Tuesday. Many of the players are meeting with Wells on Monday.

“Hopefully, most of what the players have to do will be taken care of today and get that knocked out,” Sherman said. “I’m hopeful that’s happening, but I’m really not sure.”

This will be a unique week not like any other with the Dolphins this season. It will be up to the coaching staff to keep everyone organized and the players focused.

“Honestly, we’ve been told that they’re going to do everything they can to not disrupt the normal flow of the week,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. “So how that all comes together, I’m not exactly sure. I’m not involved with that organization in terms of the structure. I don’t think it’s going to have much of an impact.”
Miami Dolphins offensive line coach Jim Turner is on the hot seat for various reasons.

For starters, his offensive line has significantly underperformed on the football field. The Dolphins have allowed the most quarterback sacks (37) in the NFL and the running game is ranked 25th. Miami garnered a franchise-low 2 rushing yards in last week's loss to the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers, mostly due to penetration allowed by Turner's struggling offensive line.

But the latest report from ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen provides more troubling signs for Turner. Schefter and Mortensen report Turner is a "person of interest" in the NFL's investigation of bullying and harassment accusations by right tackle Jonathan Martin. Sources said Turner would "insult, bully and pile it on" Martin. Expect the NFL to ask Turner plenty of questions about this when investigators visit the Dolphins' facility.

It's no secret to those around the Dolphins that Turner is tough on his players. He has a military background and is a yeller. That is on full display when practice is open to the media.

A coach screaming at his players is nothing new. But if Turner indeed crossed the line with Martin with bullying tactics, this could have major repercussions for Turner and possibly others on Miami's coaching staff.

Based on performance alone, Turner hasn't done a good job with Miami's offensive line this year. Turner's much-maligned group is easily the weakest area of the team. Add in the fact that Turner might be linked in the Richie Incognito-Martin saga, and it certainly puts Turner's future with the Dolphins in question.