Danny Amendola is latest Texas Tech tough guy to join Dolphins, following Zach Thomas and Wes Welker

Finally the Miami Dolphins have figured out a way to put the pinch on Tom Brady.

By signing Danny Amendola to a free-agent contract, the Dolphins deny Brady the use of one of his most reliable targets and a key member of the NFL’s top offensive unit.

Can’t call Amendola invaluable, of course. If Bill Belichick thought that term applied to

Former New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) makes a catch between Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Koa Misi (55) and Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Philip Wheeler (52) at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on December 15, 2013. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

the slot receiver, New England would have outbid Miami for his services. Already, Amendola has taken some $10 million in paycuts the last three offseasons in order to stay with the Patriots.

Think, though, of the toughness Amendola brought to the Patriots’ huddle, and the leadership he will bring to Miami’s locker room. See if any of this fits the new “culture” that the Dolphins and coach Adam Gase want to build, albeit three years late.

Amendola signed with the Patriots just as Wes Welker was leaving them, a demonstration of his willingness to take on a big challenge.

He started only half of the Patriots’ 2017 games but had such a rapport with Brady that he was targeted more times (86) than anyone but Brandin Cooks and Rob Gronkowski.

Amendola caught just two touchdown passes during the 2017 regular season, nothing dramatic, but then he caught two more in the fourth quarter of New England’s comeback win over Jacksonville in the AFC title game. Altogether, in 13 playoffs games with New England he caught six touchdown passes.

What’s more, according to the Boston Herald, Amendola kept on playing through a torn groin in 2013, knee and ankle injuries in 2015.

Not bad for a guy who went undrafted out of Texas Tech after playing there for Mike Leach, one of the most inventive coaches around.

Matter of fact, I’m going to suggest that the Dolphins look to Texas Tech more often in the talent searches of the draft and free agency.

That’s where linebacker Zach Thomas played his college ball on the way to a great Dolphins career that featured seven Pro Bowl selections.

And how about Welker, another Texas Tech star who the Dolphins didn’t really prize until he had left them and, in a New England uniform, transformed himself into the NFL’s leading receiver.

Jakeem Grant, 5-feet-7, is another little hardhead from Texas Tech. He and Amendola will be playing together now in Miami and maybe even sharing time in the slot position, unless Adam Gase decides he only needs one of them.

Will Brady be able to keep his offense moving without Amendola? Of course. He never slows down, no matter who is running the routes.

This addition of Amendola, however, will return to Ryan Tannehill some of the third-down certainty that was lost with the trade of Jarvis Landry to Cleveland for money reasons alone.

This may not work out so well if Amendola, 32, continues to have trouble with a bad knee that’s been bothering him the last few seasons. Can’t blame the Dolphins, though, for taking what Brady wants.

At least make the Patriots work a little harder on their way to the Super Bowl. At least make them do that.

[Not feeling confident about Gators, Canes and Noles in NCAA tourney]

[Justin Thomas’ climb to No. 2 in world gives Honda Classic another boost]

[Marlins’ inaugural spring training 25 years ago was a Space Coast blast]

 

Look past Brady to bottom of depth chart and you’ll see what makes Belichick so Super

Whenever something goes right for the New England Patriots, everybody says, well, that’s Bill Belichick for you.

Playing angles that other coaches don’t see. Getting more from particular players than anyone else has. Digging deeper and demanding more, so that man on the roster or on the staff either owns a vital role in the franchise’s continuing success or he is quickly replaced.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JANUARY 29: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots arrives at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport for Super Bowl LII. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Oh, and if I don’t mention that on occasion Belichick and his team have been caught cheating, somebody out there is going to say I left something out of his personal toolbox, so there’s that, too.

The point is that while we’re all focusing on Tom Brady and his singular contributions to all those Super Bowl titles, Belichick is working so far behind the scenes and doing it so well that most of it never gets noticed.

For instance, Belichick spent a fifth-round draft choice on a long snapper in 2015. That may not seem like such a big deal, but Brady was a sixth-rounder when he came to the Patriots from Michigan in the 2000 NFL draft.

For that matter, Danny Amendola, whose two fourth-quarter touchdown catches completed New England’s comeback win over Jacksonville in the AFC title game, wasn’t drafted by the Patriots or anyone else when he came out of college in 2008.

So for Belichick to use a fifth-round pick on a specialty item like long snapper, well, it had to mean something. And it does. Joe Cardona is a highly-disciplined guy who played college football at the U.S. Naval Academy. He will play in Sunday’s Super Bowl, just he played in the last one, only after receiving permission to reschedule his weekend duty with a Navy reserve unit.

Belichick grew up around Navy football and graduated from Annapolis High School. His father, Steve Belichick, was on the football staff at the academy forever, coaching special teams and producing some of the most detailed and useful scouting reports anyone has ever seen.

Those are the reports that the future Patriots coach studied and absorbed as soon as he was finished with his homework. Those are the influences that would lead Belichick to prize the minute details of snapping and kicking and punting so highly, and to call Cardona personally in 2015 to let him know that New England had used the 166th overall pick on a specialty player like him.

Only a handful of Navy athletes have been selected in the history of the regular NFL draft, not much more than a dozen. Roger Staubach and Napoleon McCallum are the best known.

As for long snappers in general, Cardona was believed to be only the fourth in history to be drafted by an NFL team at the time he joined New England. Since Belichick made such an unusual priority of that position, however, a long snapper has been selected in the sixth round of the last two drafts, one by Detroit and one by Pittsburgh.

None of this will ever matter to anybody watching Super Bowl LII on Sunday unless there is a bad Patriots snap on a kick, and I’m figuring there won’t be. Cardona can be trusted to come through. He’s a Belichick guy and has been from the start.

We could jump all over the Patriots roster and find other names that explain why this team is so great.  You get the picture. There’s a coach here who know what he wants – consistency, reliability and a high football I.Q. – and he never compromises.

Yep, that’s Belichick for you.

[Dan Mullen promises national title for Gators but doesn’t say when]

[Who knew Hoffman was bound for Cooperstown when Marlins traded him?]

[Nothing remains for LeBron to do except giving it a try as player-coach]

Eagles could go from losers to Super Bowl champs in one year, but what about Miami?

How far are the Miami Dolphins from winning a Super Bowl?

It seems a ridiculous question coming off a 6-10 season, but there is a history of losing teams making the jump to NFL champion in the space of just one year.

New England did it in 2001. The Patriots were 5-11 the previous season and there was

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nate Sudfeld, second from bottom, is followed by running back LeGarrette Blount, linebacker Mychal Kendricks, and quarterback Nick Foles, as they arrive for the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, in Minneapolis. Philadelphia is scheduled to face the New England Patriots. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

nothing much to recommend them except that they never got shut out. Miami suffered that indignity twice in 2017, and it very nearly happened a third time.

The 1999 St. Louis Rams won a Super Bowl after going 4-12 the previous season and sticking Dick Vermeil with the worst record of his 15-year NFL coaching career.

San Francisco won it all in 1981, just one year removed from a 6-10 clunker that was similar in some ways to what the Dolphins are going through. Bill Walsh, for instance, was in his second year as an NFL head coach and he had no more luck igniting his creative offensive ideas with Steve DeBerg at quarterback than Adam Gase did with Jay Cutler.

So what happened to transform those losers into Super Bowl champs so quickly? Obviously there was improvement throughout the rosters, but the most glaring similarity was a significant upgrade at quarterback.

Tom Brady, Kurt Warner and Joe Montana all were first trusted to handle full-time starting roles in those breakthrough seasons. They got their teams through some tight spots and continued to do so for years thereafter.

So about those Dolphins. Can’t see Ryan Tannehill or even some first-round draft pick suddenly giving Gase all that he needs at quarterback. It’s not impossible, though.

The Philadelphia Eagles were 7-9 a year ago and it’s not impossible that they might become Super Bowl champs on Sunday, even with a supposed downgrade at quarterback.

[Mullen promises national title for Gators but doesn’t say when]

[Who knew Hoffman was bound for Hall of Fame when Marlins traded him?]

[Nothing left for LeBron to do but give player-coaching a try]

Eagles are only conference finalist that Miami doesn’t play next year

So the Miami Dolphins are trying to bounce back from a 6-10 clunker of a season and this is what happens?

Three of the four teams in the NFL’s conference championship round are on Miami’s

Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Cam Robinson on the sideline duting an divisional round game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 14, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

2018 schedule. There’s a trip to Minnesota, a home game with Jacksonville and the usual AFC East home-and-away with New England

The only one left out is Philadelphia, the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

There’s no guarantee, then, that the Dolphins will have to play the defending Super Bowl champion next season but, really, has anything else been going their way lately?

The last Dolphins coach to beat a defending Super Bowl champion other than New England was Jimmy Johnson, who knocked off Denver in the 1999 season opener.

 

[Looking like one of those weird years in NFL playoffs]

[Mullen, Gators need to join parade of true freshman QBs]

                   [$10 million sure didn’t buy much with Jay Cutler]

 

A dream night for Jakeem, but not without the familiar frustrations

Jakeem Grant finally caught a touchdown pass on Monday night, the first of his NFL career, and people are still mad at him.

Because the guy is 5-feet-7 and 169 pounds, everything Jakeem ever does is going to be magnified, if that makes any sense. To me, it’s a wonder that he’s even in the league. Speed and elusiveness got him here as a specialty player, of course, but being so different means that he always is going to try a little too hard, too.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant catches a touchdown pass over New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler in the third quarter at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on December 11, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

There was a play in Monday’s 27-20 upset of New England, for instance, where Jakeem decided not to return a punt but couldn’t keep himself from standing way too close to the bouncing ball as it settled to a rest. What was the point of that, when touching it would have made it a live ball? A New England player even took the opportunity to shove Grant toward the ball while everyone was just standing around and watching it on the ground.

Very poor instincts for a player who has returned 41 punts and 38 kickoffs in his career.

Two other spotlight moments from Monday night introduced a whole new category of exasperation for Jakeem the Dream.

The first was a spectacular leaping grab for a 25-yard touchdown over Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, the hero of Super Bowl XLIX for his interception at the goal line with 20 seconds remaining. Jay Cutler made the ball a 50-50 proposition and Jakeem hauled it in for a 20-10 Miami lead. Not only was it Grant’s first career touchdown catch, it was his fifth NFL reception period.

In the fourth quarter, however, Jakeem had everyone gasping, Miami and New England fans alike, with a dropped ball that could have gone for a game-clinching touchdown bomb. Cutler put the ball on Jakeem’s fingertips, just slightly beyond comfortable reach, but instead of a transformational, two-touchdown night it turned into a major downer. Grant, who had trouble with drops last year as a rookie, said in the locker room that he reached out his arms too soon instead of running through the ball and catching up to it more easily.

I tried to cut the kid a little slack on Monday night, tweeting that because the ball didn’t arrive in perfect stride and required a stretch on the dead run it should not be classified as a truly horrendous drop. Many of the responses to that opinion were similarly sympathetic, signaling that tons of people are pulling for Jakeem to succeed, but here is one that probably resonates with most of you.

“C’mon dude, an NFL player should make that catch!”

Bottom line, Jakeem made himself available by sprinting past Butler and into the clear but failed to finish the play. At that point of the game, with New England on the ropes, it was the one play that everybody would have gone home talking about on Monday night, not only as Cutler’s fourth touchdown pass but as a Mark Duper moment for Jakeem.

Credit Adam Gase with finding ways to utilize Grant in this game, even lining him up in the backfield a time or two. You’ve got to find things that Bill Belichick and Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia haven’t planned for, and who game-plans for Jakeem?

I still wonder, however, if the former sixth-round draft pick will be on the Dolphins roster next season. Might as well keep using him as much as is practical in the final three regular-season games to explore all the possibilities.

One thing is for certain. With Jakeem Grant, a gadget player with the ongoing mission of becoming a reliable wide receiver, it will never be boring.

[It’s OK to start wondering again if Tiger Woods will play in Honda Classic]

[Bobby made FSU seem a dream destination but Jimbo? Not so much]

[Before Richt became available, UM interviewed Schiano and Mullen]

The only ‘bye’ week for the perfect 1972 Dolphins was between AFC title game and Super Bowl

So the NFL goes on without the Miami Dolphins this weekend.

It all begins tonight with Kansas City at New England, which provides a handy 7:30 p.m. deadline for getting those houses boarded up and bringing out a football feast of all the food that will spoil without electricity.

Seems like nothing ever gets down without a hard deadline, right?

Am I disappointed that the Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers won’t be playing Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium? Sure, but that’s so far down the list of priorities right now that it’s almost silly.

Storm clouds forced the Dolphins to move practice in to the bubble at Dolphins training camp in Davie, Florida on August 6, 2016. Because of Hurricane Irma’s approach, the bubble has been deflated. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

The Dolphins have already deflated their practice bubble at the practice facility in Davie, folks, and removed everything from the 100 and 300 levels of the stadium that wasn’t bolted down. Tables, chairs, portable vendor carts. Everything.

They’re not thinking football. They’re being smart, and we should be, too.

The storm will pass, though, and fans will begin to blame the rescheduling of the Bucs game for the November bye week as the reason that Miami isn’t having a great season. Oh, and you can be sure there will be grumbling from fans whose power and cable or satellite service get disrupted on Sunday when Irma comes calling and the rest of the NFL schedule goes unwatched around here.

Too bad. Life is not a fantasy and it’s does not revolve around fantasy leaguers.

Just to get ahead of the argument, though, when the sports-talk debate centers around the disadvantage Miami is under for losing the cushion of the bye week, here’s the common sense of it.

The Dolphins will have injuries all season, no matter what, just like every other team. They lost Ryan Tannehill before the first preseason game was played. They lost Raekwon McMillan and Tony Lippett, a couple of vital defenders, before this opening weekend of the regular season. There is no way to plan your way out of problems like this. They will come no matter what the schedule says and coach Adam Gase will have to deal with them when they do.

As it is, with Miami 0-0 and on hold until Sept. 17, there is lesser optimism that the team will challenge the Patriots for the division title or scramble to another wild-card playoff spot. That’s because of the injuries that already have happened, and it would be the same basic outlook even if Miami had gotten the chance to beat the Bucs on Sunday and jump to a 1-0 start.

Meanwhile, remember that the NFL didn’t always allow for a bye week in the 16-game schedule. That started in 1990.

There was a perfect Dolphins season 18 years prior to that, and a sturdy team that played 16 consecutive games in the process. Fourteen regular-season games, two playoff games and than a “bye” before the Super Bowl win that wrapped up a historic 17-0 run.

Bob Griese missed games to injury along the way, and so did others, but Miami proved itself to be the best team in the league just the same.

On Tuesday, before the NFL announced Miami vs. Tampa Bay would be rescheduled from the season opener to Nov. 19, Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry gave an honest answer to a question about the importance of the bye week.

“I think the stretch after our bye week is probably one of the toughest – if you want to be real about it – probably the toughest in the NFL,” Landry said. “That bye week will give us an opportunity to kind of get some guys healthy. In this NFL, in the league, you’re going to get banged up week in, week out. For us, that bye week, it comes at an appropriate time. For us, to keep it there would be huge.”

The post-Nov. 19 schedule truly is a bear, with games against Denver and Kansas City and, of course, two games with New England in the space of three weeks.

Give Landry credit, though, for following up that bye-week assessment with the kind of tough response that is needed in tough situations.

“I would play today if we could,” Landry said on Tuesday. ‘Obviously, again, that’s up to the team, the NFL, both organizations. If it is moved and we’ve got to play 16 weeks in a row, it’s something that we’ve got to do. We’re going to embrace the process, embrace the challenge and we’re going to make it happen.”

Schedules don’t make great seasons, in other words. Great talent combined with great coaching and great chemistry, that’s the only combination that ever works.

Be safe everybody.

[Lamar Jackson needs to knock down a ton of Heisman history to win trophy again]

[The two places in America where there is nothing but love for Jay Cutler]

[77-start string proves Ryan Tannehill is plenty tough enough to come back from injury]

 

 

Any story you hear about Vince Wilfork is probably true, all the way back to Santaluces High School

There’s nobody like Vince Wilfork, the Pro Bowl nose tackle who got his start at Santaluces High School in Lantana and also starred at the University of Miami.

This week he announced his retirement from the NFL with a hilarious video tweet that doubled as a commercial for Kingsford charcoal. Vince, 35, is shown hanging up his cleats and grabbing a pair of  tongs from the same locker to head out into the parking lot and grill up some meat. In his overalls.

Former Houston Texans nose tackle Vince Wilfork waits between plays in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015 (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Any story you hear about the guy is probably true.

He has weighed 300 pounds and more since his sophomore season at Santaluces, at least, yet his quickness confounded blockers through 13 NFL seasons with the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans and one national title season at Miami.

Bill Belichick paid an incredible tribute to Wilfork when the retirement news broke, calling him “a special, special, special player.” Wow. Three superlatives in a row. Maybe Belichick will reel off four “specials” when Tom Brady hangs it up one day, but that’s all.

I looked back to find some of the Post’s old articles about Vince. There’s one recounting the time that Wilfork, a 350-pound Miami freshman, lined up outside to cover D.J. Williams on a pass route. They were just having fun at a bowl practice, and with the blessing of UM coaches, but instead of getting blown away on a streak up the sidelines, Vince stayed close enough to the speedy receiver to knock away Ken Dorsey’s pass.

“A lot of people are ashamed of their weight,” Vince said in that 2001 article. “I’m not. Dudes line up across from me think I’m sorry, that I’m a big load. Right off the bat, they’re thinking I’m slow. But I fool them. After that first play, they know I’m real.”

Vince left Miami after his junior season and was drafted in the first round, 21st overall, by New England. He won a couple of Super Bowls with the Patriots and in 2009 was voted onto the franchise’s 50th anniversary team. Yeah, he was for real.

[Lamar Jackson would have to knock down a lot of Heisman history to win it again]

[Crazy waves of schools adding football shows future is still strong for sport]

[No second-guessing Adam Gase on Jay Ajayi’s training-camp concussion]

Here’s one of the old Santaluces nuggets I came across, though, from a time before everyone knew his name.

At the 2000 Florida High School Athletic Association meet in Gainesville, Vince won state titles in the shot put and discus throw in 4A, the highest classification of member schools.

Santaluces finished ninth in the team competition with 23 points and Vince accounted for 20 of those. Now that’s throwing your weight around, and making everybody else duck.

 

 

Some warmed-over Super Bowl nuggets that still pack a punch a few days later

 

That Super Bowl comeback for New England the other night continues to amaze the deeper you dig into the details.

Here are five overlooked nuggets from the Patriots’ 34-28 overtime win over Atlanta, one for each of Tom Brady’s Super Bowl rings.

  1. The Patriots’ offense just kept coming, of course, no matter the score, and that had a cumulative effect on the exhausted Falcons at the end. Did you know, however, that New England ran 93 total plays, a Super Bowl record?

Joe Montana and the 49ers only ran 77 plays in their 55-10 Super Bowl blowout of Denver in 1990. Likewise, the Chicago Bears snapped the ball just 76 times in their 46-10 rout of New England in 1986.

New England Patriots running back James White (28) in action against the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl LI on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Dan Wozniak/Zuma Press/TNS)
New England Patriots running back James White (28) in action against the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl LI on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Dan Wozniak/Zuma Press/TNS)

Judging by those numbers, Sunday night should have been a blowout, too.

  1. But wait, there’s more from the category of total offensive plays.

Atlanta only snapped the ball 46 times. To give you an idea of how much time that is for an offense to sit idling on the sidelines, Miami lost a Super Bowl 24-3 to Dallas in which the Dolphins ran 44 plays and were never in the game at all.

During the 2016 regular season the Dolphins ran 41 plays against Tennessee and lost 30-17. Also, they got routed 22-7 by Cincinnati while running 43 offensive plays.

Just one more reason to marvel that the Patriots and Falcons ever wound up in overtime in the first place.

  1. Atlanta’s league-leading offense was on a major roll headed into the game, with an average of 38.8 points scored over a winning streak that had reached six games.

On Sunday the Patriots limited the Falcons’ offense to 21 points. One of Atlanta’s four touchdowns came on an interception return.

  1. Brady’s quarterback rating was only 95.2 with that pick-6 included. That was his sixth-worst number for the season, playoffs included.

Guessing you’d still probably have him quarterbacking your team more than, say, Matt Ryan, who had an extremely efficient quarterback rating of 144.1 on Sunday night and a postseason average of 135.3.

Analytics like this are useful, but Super Bowl history isn’t written in strings of computer code.

  1. New England running back James White, a product of Fort Lauderdale’s St. Thomas Aquinas High School, had 11 career postseason catches going into that game. The last time New England was in the Super Bowl, as a matter of fact, White was a healthy scratch.

Against the Falcons, however, White caught 14 passes, a Super Bowl record. For comparison’s sake, Julio Jones, the Falcons’ phenomenal wideout, caught only four balls on Sunday night and Atlanta had just 17 catches as a team.

Oh, and White also ran for two touchdowns, one to tie the game at the end of regulation and another to win it in overtime. Of, course, this is the Patriots way. Two years ago, cornerback Malcolm Butler, an undrafted free agent from the University of West Alabama, provided the Super Bowl winning edge for New England.

[Lane Kiffin says FAU’s new QB is moving past old troubles]

[Look at all the Super Bowl starters who got stiffed on National Signing Day]

[Palm Beach County’s spring training showcase is the best in the state]

 

Just look at all the Super Bowl stars who got stiffed on National Signing Day

Lots of celebration and plenty of disappointment as the smoke clears on Wednesday’s National Signing Day.

Not everybody gets to go to a national championship contender or a Power Five conference or even a Division I school. Heck, the overwhelming majority of supposed high school stars don’t get a college scholarship at all.

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots reacts against the New England Patriots during the first quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA – Malcolm Butler of the New England Patriots is one of many small-school graduates who will start in Sunday’s Super Bowl. Butler played his college ball at West Alabama. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Therefore, if you or someone important to you got shut out on a favorite destination and pushed down the ladder to a low-profile choice, here is a bit of encouragement about what still can happen.

In Sunday’s Super Bowl, there will be as many starters from Valdosta State (Atlanta offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder) as there are from Florida State (Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman).

There will be as many players on the two rosters from Rutgers as there are from Alabama, with five each.

Notre Dame gets no one in the starting lineups, but West Alabama gets one very famous name (New England cornerback Malcolm Butler, a former Super Bowl MVP).

Monmouth has as many starters (New England wide receiver Chris Hogan) as Oklahoma (Atlanta guard Chris Chester).

Southeastern Louisiana (Atlanta cornerback Robert Alford) and Kent State (New England wide receiver Julian Edelman) are represented in the two starting lineups. Ohio State and USC are not.

[Big Three didn’t surpass 8-win streak with Heat very often]

[A little candy to treat Dolphin fans sick of Patriots in Super Bowl]

[Wondering if Dolphins’ No. 22 draft slot is haunted]

Football careers, in other words, aren’t made in one day, even if it happens to be National Signing Day.

Great opportunity will be given to kids who sign with the big schools, sure, and a stronger dose of overall competition and coaching.

Just think, however, of Joe Flacco (Delaware) and Deion Branch (Jones County Junior College first and Louisville as a transfer) and Kurt Warner (Northern Iowa) and Doug Williams (Grambling) and Richard Dent (Tennessee State) and Terry Bradshaw (Louisiana Tech) and, most of all, Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State).

All were Super Bowl MVP’s.

All took whatever minor opportunities they were afforded and made it work in a major way, whether anyone was watching or not.

A little candy to treat Dolphins fans who are sick of seeing the Patriots always in the Super Bowl

 

This time of year can be tough on Miami Dolphins fans, now 43 years removed from

1973 file photo. Don Shula.
Don Shula in 1973. (Post file photo)

the last NFL championship in franchise history, and that frustration goes double when the New England Patriots are back in the Super Bowl again.

As a public service to the South Florida market we offer these proofs that it was not always this way (Patriots ruling the AFC East and, too frequently, the world) and it will not stay this way forever (in theory, at least).

  • Between 1964-75, the Boston/New England Patriots experienced a 12-season postseason drought. The Dolphins’ longest stretch without a playoff game is seven seasons.
  • During the sad period of Patriots history listed above, the Dolphins won a couple of Super Bowls, posted the only perfect season in NFL history and ran up a 13-6 record against the Pats.
  • Between 1963-82, the Patriots qualified for just four playoff games and lost them all. The last loss in that string was a first-rounder to Miami in 1982, and the Dolphins went on to play in the Super Bowl that year.
  • The Dolphins are 16 years without a postseason victory at the moment, but there’s still time to put one on the board before reaching the Patriots’ franchise worst drought of 21 years between 1964-84.
  • Three times in their history the Patriots have owned or shared the worst record in the NFL – 1970, 1990 and 1992. That has happened to Miami only once (2007).
  • The Dolphins lead the all-time series with the Patriots 53-50, playoffs included.
  • The Dolphins own the longest winning streak in the series, with nine straight victories over the Patriots between 1989-93. The Patriots have never won more than seven in a row against Miami.
  • The Dolphins have the most lopsided victory in the series, 52-0 in 1972.
  • When Tom Brady joines the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day, he’ll still be outnumbered by Bob Griese and Dan Marino.
  • Bill Belichick may have 262 career victories but he’s still 85 short of Don Shula.

 

Conclusions? This makes me feel a little bit better about the faulty concept that everything always goes New England’s way, and a little bit worse that it took so much work to find these Miami advantages.

Trust me, it does no good to dig further. Stop here, before counting up division titles, Super Bowls and such, and before recognizing that Shula was 65 when the Dolphins pushed him out of the way for Jimmy Johnson. Belichick is 64 and still working on his trophy case.

[Here’s a Miami Heat upset crazier than Monday’s win over Warriors]

[Gators fall a touchdown short of college football’s scoring average]

[Wondering if Dolphins’ No. 22 draft slot is haunted]