Josh Ritchie - Sun-Sentinel

Week 1 TC Recap...Defense Shines?

While there are tons of changes on the offensive side of the ball, there are more on the defensive side.  For the first time in 12 years, no Zach Thomas and no Jason Taylor

While the fans will miss their numbers, apparently they won’t notice their play missing.  Of course we will.

The defense seems to be shining…or is that only because the offense is so bad?

The Front 7

Good

While I wont make predictions yet on who stays and who goes when it is all said and done, I will say that the new front 7 of the Miami Dolphins is something that could become a unit that is fun to watch. 

Jason Ferguson is a disruptive force and appears to be far removed from the injury that sidelined him all of last season.  If his play is this good against other teams, the Dolphins got a steal in their trade with Dallas.  Ferguson is wrecking havoc to the offensive line, which should make them better as the weeks past.

There are so many names on the front 7 that it is hard to take a look at each one, but there are names that can’t be overlooked, such as Crowder, Roth, Ayodele, and Anderson, and of course the rooks.

Channing Crowder is not making a statement which many hoped he would.  While a likely lock for one of the middle spots, he is being out-shined by fellow LB’s Akin Ayodele, a former Cowboy, and Charlie Anderson.  Both of those LB’s are getting heaps of praise from the staff.

Quentin Moses is showing every bit of what he did last year in a limited roll.  Making a push to show this staff that he can indeed start at this level, Moses is making the most of this camp and is making it known that he not only wants a spot on the final 53, but deserves it as well.

Other notable players playing well, Junior Glymph who is earning cheers from Bill Parcells, a good sign that he could make the team, Randy Starks, and of course Vonnie Holiday.  Holiday has taken to practicing the Jason Taylor stand-up DE/LB roll.  He is reportedly everywhere.  A good sign for a guy who many wondered, would have a spot on the roster with all the change.

Joey Porter is quietly going about his business, he is back to his forte’ rushing the passer and is giving the tackles fits.  He is also repeatedly seen on the sidelines with DC Paul Pasqualoni apparently learning the hand signals and schemes from the sidelines…team defensive leader perhaps?  His attitude has sure changed.

The rooks

Kendall Langford is amazing his coaches and while there is the likelihood that he will not be the opening day starter, he is getting rave reviews from HC Tony Sparano.  He is fast off the ball and making good reads and is showing an ability to get to the QB.  Langford, the Phins 3rd round pick, is showing early that he has the tools to be one of the anchored ends for years to come.  It’s early but a positive is still a positive…and much needed.

Phillip Merling is not having a TC that is a glowing and raving as Langford’s, but it is far from bad.  Merling looks like a “beast” out there as one media reporter said.  He is getting his techniques down and will push for the starter job this season.  It appears that the opposite end spots will eventually be a, should I say it, stellar duo of Merling and Langford?  We can only hope.

Lionel Dotson the 7th rounder is also making a name for himself as well and it is starting to look like he may be able to make this team after all if he can continue.  His play has at least drawn praise from Bill Parcells.  Dotson is the DE on the 2nd team unit…a good sign.

The not so good

Matt Roth  is in his make or break year and so far, his name is rarely heard or mentioned.  When the rookies are gaining more attention than a 4 year veteran, there is some reason to pause for concern.  The Dolphins are deep along the front 7 group and not having your name noticed could put you on the chopping block…more likely the Phins would try and trade him first although there is likely little value for him.  Roth needs to step it up and next weekends pre-season game against Tampa will be a tell tale sign of where he is at.  At least maybe someone will talk about his play good or bad.

Paul Soliai is about done.  He started to look like he may be coming on but has since reverted back to his ways of last year.  With guy like Rodrique Wright and Quentin Moses, there just isn’t enough spots on the team to see if he can develop.   I would be very surprised if he makes this team.

The Secondary

Many believe that last years horrible play in the secondary was not a matter of bad players but more an issue with the play of the front 7.  If that is the case, than this unit should have a chance to shine.  Already, they are showing flashes that they can break on a ball and are doing a great job of keeping the WR’s in front of them, for the most part.  However, we are still talking about Miami’s passers and wide receivers so it should be a very tempered enthusiasm.

Yeremiah Bell has virtually locked the FS spot.  He is having a very good camp and while not at 100 percent pre-Achilles injury speed, he setting himself up to be a legitimate leader in the defensive backfield.  Bell is longest tenured Miami Dolphins draft pick on the roster.  

Jason Allen is having a rather quiet TC but that is not a bad thing.  He is improving and the lack of his name being mentioned is a far cry from where it was only a year ago.  He has some work to do but is steadily showing some improvement.

Chris Crocker, Keith Davis, and Renaldo Hill are also working hard to make a name for themselves and so far all 3 are playing well.  With each contributing on special teams, the Dolphins are likely in a position to easily keep all 3 and the other two mentioned.  Courtney Bryan is likely the odd man out.

Andre Goodman and Will Allen are playing like the are capable of and there really isn’t much to say about them aside from the fact they are the likely outside starters.  The competition gets a little more heated when you moved down on the depth chart.

Nathan Jones and Joey Thomas are impressing secondary coach Todd Bowles, of course Jones is all too familiar with these guys coming from the Cowboys himself.  While it is still too early to tell, Chris Roberson, the recently signed CB is actually not playing badly.  While a long shot by far to make the roster, he showing some signs that he “gets” it.  continuing is another issue all together.

Outside looking in are Will Billingsley the undrafted rookie and veteran Travis Daniels.  Daniels has yet to find his niche’ and that will not bode well for him this pre-season.  He needs to step up and show that he is a better player to have on this team than a younger guy who has the potential to eventually be better for this team.  Billingsley has been quiet so far and although in some cases that is a good thing, when your undrafted and trying to make a roster, it’s not.

All in all

The Defense is a hard unit to predict and we will have a far better idea of where they are after the Bucs’ game.  For now, they are either really good which is why the offense is really bad, or they are looking really good because the offense is really bad.

Whichever the reason is, the defense is becoming that hard nosed in your face force that Bill Parcells has always had.  They are a long way from becoming that kind of unit on the field, but the pieces seem to show signs that the direction they are heading is a good one.

In another week we shall see. 

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Tags: Bill Parcells Channing Crowder Jason Ferguson Joey Porter Kendal Langford Lionel Dotson Miami Dolphins Phillip Merling Todd Bowles Vonnie Holiday Yeremiah Bell

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