As we keep this contest rolling along, we bring you submission number 3. First however, Brandon Marshall will officially wear number 19. The NFL and the Dolphins are already selling his jersey. Let’s hope Ginn didn’t curse it!
Miami Dolphins: A Defensive Perspective
From Wikipedia, article on former Dolphin Defensive Coordinator Bill Arnsparger:
Return to the Dolphins (1976–1983): “Just two days after his dismissal, Arnsparger was rehired by Shula as Miami’s assistant head coach in charge of the defense. In the team’s first game under his leadership, the Dolphins won a 10–3 defensive battle with the New England Patriots” rel=”nofollow” href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_England_Patriots” target=”_blank”>New England Patriots, who had averaged thirty points per game entering the contest.”
With the start of the recent mini-camp for the ‘fins on Friday, it became clear that a major change was in the works; perhaps one not seen since the glory days of Bill Arnsparger and his defensive schemes of renown. While Arnsparger ran a 3-4 defense and variations of such at a time when many other NFL teams did as well (e.g. Buffalo, Oakland, et. al.) his was an attacking defense that forced opposing offenses to plan for and ultimately, adjust to the defensive schemes. And that takes away the classic, “we’ll keep doing what we do well because nobody has ever stopped us” since Arnsparger’s defensesdid stop those offenses. The point being: welcome back defensive attack, courtesy of one Mike Nolan – the new Dolphins Defensive Coordinator and a coach with a long history of turning-around defenses in 1 season (that’s one season). The ‘fins have him and indeed he is probably a bigger acquisition for them than Brandon Marshall or any other. Hold onto your hats!
Opposing teams now no longer can plan on a weak secondary as part of a defensive scheme that “bends but doesn’t break”. Instead, the new-look Dolphins defense will attack and force offenses to consider what new wrinkle Nolan will employ next. Cameron Wake will be a major part of the defensive scheme in rushing the passer from the weak side but there will not be any set pattern as Nolan mixes-up the passing attack with multiple stunts and alignments that should virtually guarantee confusion in any blocking scheme. How, for instance, to defend against a pass rush from Karlos Dansby over the middle at the same time Randy Starks and other large and strong bodies are pushing up front and commanding the blocking attention by the inside 3? In essence, Mike Nolan is the Dan Henning (Offensive Coordinator and Guru) of Defense. In truth, Nolan has found ways in the past to make his defenses formidable even without outstanding personnel talent. And he does now have some very good talent here in Miami with which to inflict a painful awakening to teams such as those NY JX&%s.
It is worth mentioning that the Jets, a team heralded by ESPN and others as being a definite contender and by NY media as Superbowl worthy, lost 2 games last year (a sweep) to the soft Miami defense. And that was also despite personnel injuries to the Dolphins offense that were key and integral (Pennington, Ronnie Brown). It gives one satisfaction to view facts like that from a South Florida perspective: as Rocky Balboa said, “ain’t so bad. You ain’t so bad!” (to Mr. T). And NY had the #1 rushing attach in the NFL last year statistically….
Are the Dolphins an improved team over last year? Position-by-position, the answer is an emphatic, “yes”. Even a “hell yeah” may well be in order here.
Have they improved more than the “improvement” of competing teams in the AFC East? Quite frankly, I do not know how one would consider the changes in the Jets RB’s to be an improvement but they’ve definitely firmed-up their defensive backs with perhaps the best corners in the NFL. But the changes overall with the Dolphins are many, many more. And you can bet that Brandon Marshall’s comments on being traded to the Dolphins about, “Revis Island” concerning one of their DB’s are a sure sign that Mr. Marshall feels exceedingly confident that he will beat in coverage.
With better defense the situationals in games will be improved and games where the ‘fins are ahead will get closed-down properly. Coach Tony Sparano stated several times that he was focused on getting the team to finish in games. The quality of a shut-down defense will be a major factor and confidence booster.
But getting back to the Dolphin Defense, ask yourself these questions:
1. Do you think they will have a better linebacking corps now?
2. What is the likelihood of any improvement with Mike Nolan over the defense of a year ago?
3. With a returning (from injury) Will Allen now competing with Sean Smith and Vontae Davis for 2 starting jobs and the latter 2 persons no longer rookies, will the secondary be better?
I think you already know the answers to these questions. My suggestion? Don’t be fooled by the hype about the NY Jets and don’t be misled by predictions of others who do not follow the ‘fins as we do here at PhinPhanatic. The Tuna and Sparano and Ireland have things well lined-up. It will be fun to watch now when the Dolphins are on defense!