He has been tasked with fixing a unit that gave up too many big plays from the secondary positions. He has been tasked to fix that unit by player subtraction rather than addition. He is the Miami Dolphins Secretary of Defense. His name is Mike Nolan and to some, he is the biggest acquisition of the entire off-season.
Nolan is a blitz crazy kind of guy. He believes in knocking the QB down and disrupting the rhythm of the offense with powerful up-field motion. He will do that without an aged Jason Taylor but will have a youthful tandem of Cameron Wake and Jared Odrick. He will have a big time LB in Karlos Dansby. Then, there is a drop off into the abyss of question marks.
Questions such as Randy Starks’ move to NT? Channing Crowder’s health? No Gibril Wilson but will Chris Clemons make us forget? Will the outside LB’s hold down the run, rush the passer, and cover the TE’s and RB’s?
These new Dolphins will get their first pad to pad knocks when training camp opens up in a few short weeks. Mike Nolan will get his first hands on impression of what physicality this team possesses and how quickly they will come together as one solid unit and not individual position.
Nolan has excelled with his defenses throughout his career. He has done well with better personell and worse. Last season he began the season with the Denver Broncos ranked in the top half of the league only to see them falter when the teams HC changed the process.
There are some who believe that Nolan is destined to walk the Dolphins sideline as their next HC should Tony Sparano stumble. His short stint in San Francisco was not a true indictment on his ability to lead football players. Much like his father, Mike Nolan commands the respect of those around him.
When the season curtain opens and then closes 17 weeks later, Mike Nolan will have had as much to do with the success of this teams season as the players themselves. The Dolphins run a 3-4 defense but Miami fans haven’t witnessed Mike Nolans’ 3-4 style of defense. A mix of high energy attack and methodical coverage.
What will this team evolve into over the next month and a half. A child of sorts is being born on a sodded practice field behind NOVA University in Davie, Fl. And running right there along side it, is the caretaker, the secretary if you will of the Miami Dolphins defense. So far as the defense can carry it, the Dolphins shall go. And it starts with Mike Nolan.