The Miami Dolphins are short handed on the defensive front with only three returning players under contract. Jared Odrick, Randy Starks, and Tony McDaniels. The 4th, Koa Misi a DE/OLB who contributed in spell of Jason Taylor appears to be moving to inside linebacker. This according to a report here, by the Sun-Sentinel’s Omar Kelly.
Kelly points out that it is an “experiment” the team is considering in order to use his versatility and speed in the coverage game. A move however would leave an even bigger gaping hole on the outside. The Dolphins have already been rumored to have a high priority in finding an edge pass rusher to go along with Cameron Wake on the other side, Misi was assumed to be the competition or the depth guy. The move to the inside brings up more than a few questions.
For starters, with the team supposedly switching to a 43 defensive system, Misi would join both Karlos Dansby and last year free agent signee Kevin Burnett. It seems that it becomes a rather crowded position. Especially given the fact that in a 43 only one guy starts in the middle. There was talk shortly after Joe Philbin brought Kevin Coyle on board to run the defense that Dansby could be moved outside, but his natural position in on the inside.
Of course you now have to ask whether or not the Dolphins have a plan in place to replace Misi as that edge runner? Mario Williams perhaps? Someone else? Are they looking at the draft in April for a solution? Another question is Misi himself. While Jeff Ireland says he is pleased thus far with Misi’s performance, he did say that he has to get better. Is this a last stop opportunity for Misi to prove his value to the team before he is released next season?
Of course the issue of money also comes into play. Who is making too much, too little, or not enough? If Misi makes the conversion to the middle line backing position when exactly will he get on the field? Dansby played very well in the 2nd half of the season as did Burnett. It’s unlikely that he would float in and take away a spot from either one. Perhaps the Dolphins may be looking at trading one of Burnett or Dansby prior to the draft. Speculation of course but given the lack of depth on the line with this move, everything is subject to speculation.
This also brings up the question of Phillip Merling and Kendall Langford, both of whom will be free agents come March 13th at 4:00 PM Eastern time. The Dolphins would likely need to get one of them back on a contract in order to keep some depth and continuity. The question is which one will likely meet or exceed the contract that they will be asking for? Where Langford struggled to move forward last season, Merling struggles with off-field issues and on-field play.
To me the prospect of Misi makes sense if, and I stress IF, the Dolphins had a depth issue in the middle. Some will point out that the move is entirely “experimental” but consider that Misi needs to be playing on the outside and getting his reps to get better, playing him in both is counterproductive for a guy who has so far been on the inconsistent side.
It appears that something else may be going on behind the scenes or someone opened up their mouth to someone else and it’s really more or less a matter of our own interpretation and there really is nothing there that burns. I suppose we will see. Given the fact that McDaniel and Odrick are better suited as DE’s instead of DT’s, I would think that incoming rookie Dontari Poe may be an option alongside of Randy Starks, of course with Misi possibly on the move, it may very well be Courtney Upshaw instead. Who knows at this point but the needs of the Dolphins just got a little more “needy” on the defensive side of the ball.