Is This Defense Ready?
By Brian Miller
There is a lot of hype surrounding the Miami Dolphins and they haven’t so much as put on a pad yet. Some in the media believe that Miami will and should win the division and make the playoffs. I suppose the question is this. Is this defense ready?
Brandon Marshallshould improve an offense that is steadily getting better and his presence should give Chad Henne a legit threat. With Ronnie Brown coming back from injury and a still rejuvenated Ricky Williams, the Dolphins offense isn’t much of a concern. But the other side is.
Forget for a moment that the free safety spot is a lingering issue that for now will play out between Chris Clemons entering his 2nd NFL season and rookie Reshad Jones. Forget for a moment the big switch of DE Randy Starks to NT and forget about the solid pick-up of LB Karlos Dansby. Instead, look at everyone else and then wonder about whether or not this team is ready for the playoffs.
LB was the big question mark entering the off-season and the Dolphins did well to add the aforementioned Dansby. But the outside is downright scary. And that’s with my personal favorite draft pick Koa Misi penciled in to start.
Misi is lining up opposite Charlie Anderson who is battling with Cameron Wake who is battling himself. Wake is a monster built of potential. Unrealized potential. It’s up to him to get it. So question 1: Is Cameron Wake going to take the next step and become a force?
Question 2: How much struggle with Koa Misi have in adjusting to the NFL?
And LB question number 3: Is Dansby going to be strong enough mentally to elevate Channing Crowder? Who I think will be a 2nd team player by week 4 when he loses his job to Tim Dobbins who came over from San Diego on draft day.
Then there is the defensive line. Starks has moved to NT so that Phillip Merling can camp duel against rookie Jared Odrick. Merling is on the cusp of losing more than just his job if he doesn’t step up. On the other side is Kendall Langford who should improve over a pretty good season last year. But the entire defensive unit will hinge on the play of Randy Starks. Which brings up question 1. Will Starks make the transition to NT and still be the impact player he was last season?
Question 2: Is Jared Odrik going to make a huge impact as a rookie. Or how about a marginal one?
With the front 7 addressed it’s easy to skip back to the secondary. The only question that really needs to be asked at CB is this. Will the sophomore duo of Vontae’ Davis and Sean Smith suffer the proverbial sophomore slump? If there were a 2nd, it’s where will Will Allen fit in.
Then, finally there is the safety position. More specifically, the free safety position. Is the answer Clemons or Jones or will this season be another mystery and another tongue lashing by Miami fans every time some WR slips behind coverage for another late game score?
Is this defense ready to step up to the plate and take over games and dominate for 60 minutes? Is Mike Nolans’ schemes adequate enough to make up for the lack of experience on the unit or is too complex for the youth to understand?
Questions that will inevitably linger until the season is well underway.