1. Here’s how you win in the NFL: You get a coach and a quarterback. You put sound offensive and defensive systems in place. And you find players and build on those systems over years. If it takes, you win. If it doesn’t, well, look at the Dolphins recently.
Continuity matters in the NFL. Don Shula noted to Joe Philbin at a recent dinner how he had only two offensive-line coaches in his 33-year head-coaching career, as I wrote in a Sunday column.
That's not to say the Dolphins could have stayed the course. They had to make changes. Big changes on the offensive line, for instance. But continuity does matter on the roster. So how much of a factor that the Dolphins currently have a maximum of six starters on offense returning from last year for the season opener and one of the back seven returning on defense to the same positions?
Some of that’s the offensive line issues. Some is injury (Mike Pouncey) and PED suspension (Reshad Jones; Dion Jordan, though he’s not officially a starter).
Here are the returning starters on offense assured of their position: QB Ryan Tannehill, WRs Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson; and tight end Charles Clay (assuming he’s healthy. He was again out of practice Monday after missing a week and his knee is in a brace). Lamar Miller or Knowshown Moreno is an issue at running back to see who plays more (though both will play).
Defense: Ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon; DTs Randy Starks and Jared Odrick; and CB Brent Grimes. Grimes, then, is the only member of the back seven to return from last year in the same position, as all the linebackers have flipped positions (you could say nickle back Jimmy Wilson is a starter, too, and I wouldn't argue).
When Reshad Jones and Mike Pouncey return, that will increase the continuity. But this remains a fundamental question with the Dolphins. It’s why the learning of training camp and preseason is a bigger deal to the Dolphins than many, more stable teams.
2. Loved the throwback win by the Marlins' Brad Penny on Saturday night. Maybe Carl Pavano has another win in him out of the broadcast booth.
3. Kevin Love would make Cleveland the favorite in the East. But it's no sure thing. And the No. 1 issue should't be Love's never appearing in a playoff game in Minnesota. It should be his durability. Here are the number of games he has played in his six Minnesota seasons: 37, 22, 73, 55, 18 and 77. He has to last the season for Cleveland to win.
4. Does Tony Stewart escape criminal charges?
5. Rory McIlroy is the new Tiger in golf. But, sorry, he won't be Tiger.
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