The Miami Dolphins finished 22nd in total defense in 2009. Following the season Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland set out on a mission to improve the defense, and after an off-season filled with changes on that side of the ball, the unit finished 6th in that category in 2010. Now this year as John Congemi explains, the Dolphins brass is working on revamping the offense in a very similar fashion with new Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll.
Guest Blog by John Congemi
Taking a look back at last season one thing was very evident, the Miami Dolphins defense was a priority in the off-season and during the 2010 draft. Not only did General Manager Jeff Ireland acquire key free agent linebacker Karlos Dansby to secure the middle of the defense, he focused on the defensive side of the football when the draft rolled around. First round selection Jared Odrick and linebacker A.J. Edds will add to the depth and hopefully play a prominent role on this year’s unit. One key ingredient cannot be overlooked, and that’s the stamp Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan put on this defense. His attacking style and fresh outlook only gave a young unit the confidence it needed to play fast and the chemistry and talent just grew as the season moved along.
All of those same opportunities that helped a young defense a year ago holds true looking at the 2011 Dolphins offense. Ireland and Head Coach Tony Sparano had a strong conviction about strengthening the offensive side of the ball, and it showed by the way they handled this year’s draft. Without free agency, it’s very difficult to fill all of the wants and needs of a football team, but this organization paid attention to some of the glaring needs on offense so far in the off-season. They selected the best players available at the positions of need and felt like they didn’t have to “reach” for a player higher than they had him rated on the draft board.
The selection of offensive lineman Mike Pouncey addressed the middle of the line and gives Miami flexibility up front. Pouncey was rated the top interior lineman by just about every analyst around, and mirrors what the intentions were when drafting Odrick last year. Pouncey will be in the starting lineup from day one, and will be expected to produce like a three-year veteran immediately. Running back Daniel Thomas, selected in the second round, doesn’t have to look over his shoulder at the Dolphins roster as it stands right now. Ronnie Brown‘s and Ricky Williams‘ status is uncertain at best and that gives the bruising back from Kansas State the opportunity to play now! It gives me the same gut feeling as I had last year when Miami selected a “hybrid” defensive end/outside linebacker in Utah’s Koa Misi. Thomas will be expected to not only contribute but play a major role in this offense. His running style and ability to catch the football out of the backfield is expected to be a upgrade at the position.
A fresh, fast start on offense is what Dolphins fans expect, and I’m sure that new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is looking to provide that to them. Just as Nolan added a spark to a young defense last season, Daboll has the task for energizing this offense and providing quarterback Chad Henne the tools necessary to be successful. Plays and terminology will change and hopefully provide confidence and chemistry to an offense looking for more consistency in 2011. Daboll will need to establish an identity with the offense and focus on the stability of receivers Davone Bess and Brandon Marshall. He can utilize new weapons to stretch the field in Edmond “Clyde” Gates and multi-dimensional sixth round selection Charles Clay.
I can say with confidence that the Miami Dolphins addressed their needs directly in the 2011 Draft. Ireland and Sparano focused on what was needed on the offensive side of the football, and will now turn their attention to bolstering this team further in free agency and possibly a trade or two. There is no mistake that the formula that was used to energize Nolan’s defense a year ago just may assist Daboll’s offense to start on the right track.
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