The Miami Dolphins recently gave contract extensions to 3 primary special teams players. Punter Brandon Fields, long snapper John Denney, and ILB Tim Dobbins. This news made me wonder why Miami would be signing these guys when they only have 1 of their 2010 draft picks signed.
I know it’s a little early, but I haven’t heard much talk about any of the draft picks signing other than 7th round pick Chris McCoy. Let’s blame this on the pending CBA agreement, or lack thereof, and dig a little deeper on why the Miami Dolphins front office decided to focus on these special teamers.
I decided to compare the 2008 vs 2009 punt stats. The numbers revealed the reason why Brandon Fields earned an extension, he is a versatile punter. If you think back to 2008, Miami played the field position game quite a bit, mainly because they could trust their defense. They took fewer risks around midfield and inside their opponents territory, thus having a lot of shorter punts. Fields punted 74 times (ranking 12th in the NFL), averaged 43.9 yards (17th). He had 7 touchbacks (T12th), 24 punts inside the 20 (T10th), and 15 fair catches (7th).
In 2009, Miami couldn’t play the field position game as much mainly because they played from behind quite a bit. They had to take more risks, and with a first year QB under center, those risks didn’t pay off as often as they hoped. Because they struggled to move the ball at times, they were left with a lot of field to cover. Fields was up to the challenge.
In 2009, Fields punted 75 times (9th), averaged 46.3 yards (6th). He had 6 touchbacks (T11th), 25 punts inside the 20 (T13th), and 13 fair catches (T22nd). As you can see, Fields was able to adjust to whatever he was asked to do. It’s true he is no Shane Lechler, but he’s only been in the league 4 years, to Lechler’s 11, he will improve over time. Plus, the dude is 6-5 245, that’s a pretty scary punter!
Another interesting stat from those 2 years, Fields hasn’t had any punts blocked, which is a testament to receiving good snaps to handle. Long snapper John Denney has delivered time and time again over the past 2 seasons. Denney is also the snapper on field goal attempts (which Brandon Fields holds), extension granted.
The extension of ILB Tim Dobbins is a bit more interesting. Yes, he is going to play special teams, and yes, he has proven he can produce. Adding Dobbins (and a healthy Patrick Cobbs), will really boost Miami’s punt coverage this year. But I have a sense he is going to get his fair share of playing time on defense as well, proving during OTA’s that he’s going to be a serious challenger to Channing Crowder for the starting ILB spot opposite Karlos Dansby. I see Dobbins winning that job before the season starts. Extension……..check.