Tunnel vision

The Dolphins returned from their bye Monday to find themselves alone atop the AFC East after New England, Buffalo and the Jets all lost over the weekend. Not only that, but all three division foes have significant problems they have to deal with, from New England's injuries, to Buffalo's quarterback struggles, to the Jets' quarterback troubles. That's all good news for Dolphins fans; just don't ask Nick Saban to discuss it, though.

When Saban met with the media after practice on Monday, he began with a request.

"Let me start out by saying before you start asking about it, just so we can get this straight, what happens to everybody else has nothing to do with us," Saban said. "What we can control, we can control. If we had three of our friends fail the ACT test to get into college, what does that mean about us? What do we have to do to get in college? Pass the ACT test, so don't ask me that because I am really going to get upset if you ask me. That is pretty simple common thinking, right?

"It doesn't matter. What they do doesn't matter. What we do is what matters, what we control, what we can do. We need to be ready to do what we do. That is what we need to do. Thinking about anything else other than what we have to do to prepare to play the next game, to minimize our errors and maximize our performance is totally out of the question. I just wanted to set the ground rules because I don't what to get upset today anymore than I already am."

After opening things up for questions, Saban immediately was asked whether he needed to remind his players of focusing on their own team.

"Absolutely," was the answer. "All I hear is this team lost and that team lost, this happened to this guy or that guy. What do we have to do? We have to play to win our game. We have to play winning football with our team. That is what we need to do and none of that other stuff matters. We have lots of games and lots of football. We need to focus on improving our team and get our team to be able to play like they need to play. All of that other stuff is clutter and poison and lethal, in terms of attitude, development and thinking about the right things to get ready to play a game."

So there.

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Wide receiver Wes Welker and safety Tebucky Jones both said they planned to appeal $5,000 fines they were assessed for penalties they committed in the victory over Carolina.

Jones was fined for his facemask penalty, which came on a sack, while Welker was fined for an illegal crack-back block.

Saban was asked for his reaction on the fines: "I don't think you want me to say what I think about that. Football is football and when guys don't do things that are intentional to hurt somebody, which neither one of those things were, I think it is a little ridiculous. It happens every week, so it is not fair to the players in all honesty.'

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