1. If the Dolphins want to play the no-one-believes-in-us card, it’s there for them this year. That’s because even before training camp opens a lot of people don’t believe they have a chance to do much of anything this season. Let’s take three national football outlets:
A. Football Outsiders Almanac. 2012 Mean Prediction: 6.9 wins. Playoff odds: 9.7 percent. Super Bowl odds: 5 percent. Outlook: “Miami has replaced Buffalo as denizens of the AFC East hamster wheel, forever going nowhere.”
B. Pro Football Weekly predicts the Dolphins to be last in the AFC East and that one of the league-wide regrets of the season will be, “Joe Philbin taking the Dolphins job.” Why? “If (Jeff) Ireland becomes the scapegoat this season or next, the man Ross hires to replace him might not hesitate to fire Philbin and move in a different direction. The Dolphins are asking him to win now with two suspect QB optiosn in Matt More and David Garrard … Will Philbin even get a chance to see how good Ryan Tannehill can become?”
C. ESPN ranked its top 25 prospects, which was defined essentially as a player drafted in the third round or lower (or not drafted at all) and 26 or younger. There were 21 teams with players on the list if you stretch it to the 30 named in rankings and honorable mention. The Dolphins didn't have a player on the list. The Patriots had three (RB Stevan Ridley, OL Marcus Cannon and QB Ryan Mallett).
Of course, this is all just media talking. But the point is the Dolphins' off-season didn't move the needle of expectation on this team. If there's a rallying cry, it's how a new regime came in with similar expectations in 2008 and made the playoffs.
I'll save my forecast for later this summer.
2. Emilio Bonifacio might just be the most important player in the Marlins lineup. When he was injured in May, a team expected to have a lot of speed suddenly quit running. He returned to the lineup against Washington, went 3-for-11, went first-to-third on a single, laid a sacrifice and a squeeze bunt to move runners that scored and generally did the type of things the Marlins haven't enough of this year.
3. The Knicks continue to be the Knicks as the Jeremy Lin saga shows.
4. One of the pleasures of this job is talking with people like Ricky Williams, who constantly stretches your thinking. I talked with him for my column today about what he's been doing without football. Answer: Exactly what he wants. "I look back at it, and I'm not talking about football players or the media specificially,'' he says. "I'm talking about the expectation for football players. I had to dumb myself down to fit in."I shouldn't said I 'had' to do it. I allowed myself to do it. I didn't want to stand out anymore than I already did. I allowed myself to act that way."
5. If Dwight Howard ends up in L.A., we're all just passing time next basketball season until the Heat meet the Lakers in the Finals.
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