Reading through some postings and several of the replies concerning this topic, the idea is that the Miami Dolphins, pound-for-pound do not have the dominant, thrilling defensive personnel to achieve any level of greatness. Evaluations of some new players and some of the existing starters are given against their past contributions.
But there are some things that are more important than others.
Mike Nolan‘s addition of schemes and coordination is more important.
But too many evaluations are player-based and therefore, flawed. They just look at past performance and then figure if the guy is a good player or not. Football is about coaching and schemes first and then, of course, impact and hitting and talent. One must have both for success. But to measure the players against last-year’s poor scheme on defense is just erroneous and does not convey the real true situation. Players will play better or worse depending on the scheme and how they are used. And that is why changes like Randy Starks moving to nose tackle have significance.
This defense will be one of the top 10 defenses. You heard it here first.
And by the way, when evaluating player talent there is an earlier reference you may have heard of: are you familiar with the No-Name Defense? Why do you think it was successful…?
But in the right scheme, every player will tend to shine. And I am certain you will see this in 2010. Expect big numbers from Vontae Davis, Koa Misi and Cameron Wake to name a few.
And the fact of 2nd year players is not such a worry. Consider that LT and Jack Lambert and many players shined in their 1st or 2nd year under the right system. As did many, many other linebackers and defensive personnel.
Many evaluators just ignore the effect of the scheme and coaching in their evaluation and that is why they fail. You could tell that the Saints had success coming from their coaching even before last season started. And the Vikings are very well coached and were 1 (later rule-changed) kick away from the Super Bowl themselves. Compare that to what is taking place in Denver where there is a systematic dismantling of the personnel and systems. And how about over in Carolina: does anyone honestly think that the coaches there have the team set up to win more games?
Look, you simply cannot ignore the bottom line here: players play well because of being COACHED well. And this is an excellent coaching staff – possibly better than any of the others in the NFL. If you include Bill Parcells in that mix, I just don’t think it can be outdone. The injuries and defensive schemes were the reason for the troubles last season.
The Miami Dolphins defense is going to be a stand-out unit that will stop offenses and produce points all of their own accord. Bet on it. I know that the owner, Stephen Ross fully intends to do what it takes to win and he himself is a winner and very much expects that from his organizations.
One of the best NFL drafts this year was from the Oakland Raiders. They seem to have changed their ways and not gambled or selected unpredictable players to any degree this time. They should absolutely be improved; and that has got to be due to insistence by their coaches and the willingness by Al Davis to allow them that latitude without meddling in the process as he had tended to do over the years.
The Seattle Seahawks had an excellent off-season so far as well and will be an improved team. Pete Carroll has learned from his past NFL experience and is approaching the matter very differently than before.
What about the changes to San Francisco? Did they require a transfusion of players in order to start generating a better attitude and some wins? No. It was a new head coach and a new staff that did it. And now they draft in order to fit their scheme. And they are much improved from where they were just 2 years ago; nobody would argue that point.
Compare coaching though, and my point becomes even more relevant and stands out. Could this team out-coach Bill Belichick? While Tony Sparano may not on his own, take a look at some of the additional talent such as Dan Henning and Mike Nolan. This Dolphins Coaching Staff is stacked with talented coaches. And you better believe that makes good players play better and beyond their potential. Think that the Cowboys have better coaches? How about the New Orleans Saints? At this point and with the changes on defensive staff, it is very doubtful. And frankly, with all of the injuries suffered last year, many other teams would have folded and been much worse that Miami, who nearly beat New Orleans, Houston and Indianapolis.
There was no game last year where the Dolphins were not capable of winning even with 2nd string players and losing most of their ability to run the Wildcat offense due to losing Ronnie Brown. Consider that fact. And they still beat the Stinkin’ Jets twice. Who thinks that the Dolphins are afraid to play the Jets because, “there is just so much talent and coaching skill up there”? Au contrair, the Dolphins totally have their number. I can assure you they face Mark Sanchez without shakin’ in their cleats.
Remember when Don Shula took over the team after 2 years of losing as an expansion franchise? No wholesale change in players took place: just the installation of a work-ethic and a better system with better coaching. A desire to win. Determination. Character.
That is the point. That is the culture of the Miami Dolphins. Isn’t that why you became a Dolphins fan in the first place? It is a culture of winning – not just a 1-year record.