A six pack of Dolphins, Hurricanes and Marlins:
• Dolphins’ Dade/Broward TV ratings continue to plummet to embarrassing levels, with Thursday’s 12.6 (combining CBS-4 and NFL Net) believed to be their lowest in many years for a prime-time Dolphins game, perhaps ever.
The Dolphins’ 14.0 average local rating through four games (equal to 14 percent of Miami/Fort Lauderdale homes with TV sets) is below last season’s 16.9 average, which was worst among all NFL markets excluding two-team markets New York and the Bay Area.
Every Dolphins game this season has drawn a lower rating than the previous one.
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NFL TV ratings are down nationally this season, but the Dolphins’ declining ratings over the past several years suggest diminished interest because of the poor on-field product.
The Dolphins are 68-96 over the past decade plus.
• Dolphins cornerback Byron Maxwell’s benching was the result not only of poor coverage (he had allowed 14 of 23 passes to be caught for 185 yards) but also poor tackling. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s rated 69th of 86 cornerbacks against the run.
But Maxwell handled this like a professional, offering counsel to his replacement, Tony Lippett, during Thursday’s game.
Though the Dolphins believe Xavien Howard will be very good, he has allowed 17 of 26 passes to be completedagainst him, for 216 yards.
And Lippett allowed 4 of 6 for 72 yards in his first 2016 appearance Thursday, with a whiffed tackle on an AJ Green touchdown.
• UM coach Mark Richt said he’s not angry that receiver Sam Bruce was playing basketball when he sustained a season-ending leg injury.
“I don’t have any rules on that,” he said. “I’m sad for him because he’s missing an opportunity to play and get better and help us win. If I had a chronic number of this type of thing, I would have to set some rules. But I don’t like to set rules it’s hard to discipline them or oversee them if you’re not around.
“If I say something, I want to be able to know what’s real and discipline appropriately. I guess he was trying to slam dunk it and came down wrong and hurt himself. He’ll be back by the spring.”
UM believes Bruce eventually can be a big-time playmaker, but his UM career began inauspiciously with a three-game suspension (from the February photo of him holding a gun) and then an injury.
“I want him to handle his business, go to class, go to study hall, go to your tutors, be on time, be prepared, be respectful, do your best in every way you can,” Richt said. “Go to your treatment, do your rehab, learn what to do when you’re in meetings with your coach, grow up like all of them.”
For postscripts, thoughts and reaction from Saturday’s UM win, please click here.
• UM’s Bank United Center will no longer be the BUC. Watsco, an air-conditioning company is replacing Bank United as the arena’s corporate name, a source confirmed. An announcement is expected before UM basketball season.
• For those who missed the news overnight, UM-FSU on Saturday will be an 8 p.m. start and televised by ABC.... All three overseas games this season will be televised nationally, including Colts-Jaguars this morning. That means 14 hours of football is available today. Here’s the full TV regionalization map for today.
• Keeping together this mediocre Marlins team is about to become more expensive. Giancarlo Stanton’s salary jumps from $9 million this season to $14.5 million next season (with another jump to $25 million in 2018), Wei Yin Chen from $6 million to $9 million, Dee Gordon from $3 million to $7.5 million; and Christian Yelich from $1 million to $3.5 million (still a bargain, with a jump to $7 million in 2018).
What’s more, AJ Ramos, Marcell Ozuna, Adeiny Hechavarria and Tom Koehler will get raises in arbitration. Mike Dunn, Jeff Mathis, Jeff Francouer, Dustin McGowan and Andrew Cashner are free agents. Cashner, unlikely to return, ended up costing Miami only $360,000 in salary this season, with San Diego covering the remaining $2.17 that he was owed since the trade.
The Marlins are likely to exercise Ichiro Suzuki’s $2 million option and seem unlikely to exercise Fernando Rodney’s ($3.5 to $4 million range with incentives). Owner Jeffrey Loria, faced with replacing Jose Fernandez, hasn’t set a payroll.
For an in-depth look at how the Marlins can fill their need for pitching this winter, please click here.
And for Sunday Heat notes, please click here. It includes insight on who now should take the big shots late in close games for the Heat, with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh gone. Plus, I asked Wade’s wife, actress Gabrielle Union, about her eye-opening tweet last week.
Please follow me on Twitter: @flasportsbuzz