Miami Dolphins 2009 Quick Hits
Quick-hitting one-liner analysis on every Dolphins starter and significant offseason acquisition.
2008: 11-5 (1st AFC East)
Head Coach: Tony Sparano (2nd year)
Roster Quick View
Offense (Coordinator Dan Henning)
QB: Chad Pennington The owner of the league’s weakest arm was also a legitimate MVP candidate in 2008.
RB: Ronnie Brown With ’07 knee injury 100 percent behind him and his contract expiring, coaches expect a career-year. Does that mean more Wildcat snaps?
FB: Lousaka Polite Classic fullback, which is to say he’s a hardnosed, blue-collar guy that nobody really notices.
WR: Ted Ginn His respectable growth can be attributed, in part, to Dan Henning’s offensive system. Next step for him is being a more consistent playmaker.
WR: Greg Camarillo So because he’s gritty and white, do we compare him to Wes Welker? Bigger but slower than Welker. Led team with 55 catches before tearing up his knee last November.
WR: Davone Bess As shifty and crisp as a receiver can be. Has a bright future in the slot (though given Parcells’s penchant for larger targets, it may not necessarily be with this team).
TE: Anthony Fasano Has finally shown the fluidity and athleticism that made him Dallas’s second-round pick back in 2006. Good blocker, too.
TE: David Martin A borderline starter or a superb No. 2. Does everything a fine TE would do.
LT: Jake Long Became the first No. 1 overall pick since 1981 to make the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Quick drop step and strong, sound technique are the reasons why.
LG: Justin Smiley Underwent offseason surgery on his shoulder, ankle and leg, but appears all set to go. A very good blocker on the move.
C: Jake Grove* Guaranteed $14.5 million over the next 3 years because Miami was desperate for consistency here. But how consistent can a guy who’s missed an average of 5.2 games per season be?
RG: Brandon Frye Unknown third-year pro who was shuffled into the starting lineup after Donald Thomas got hurt again.
RT: Vernon Carey At 350 pounds, doesn’t offer any mobility in the run game. But to his credit, he rarely gets beat.
6 OL: Ike Ndukwe Decent athlete who started 15 games last season, but clearly, at this point, is too unrefined for the NFL.
Defense (Coordinator Paul Pasqualoni)
LDE: Kendall Langford Is progressing into one of the better run defenders in football. Few guys have his ability to disengage from block and simultaneously make a tackle.
NT: Jason Ferguson Turns 35 in November and is in the final year of his contract. Strength and leverage (like knee-on-the-ground type leverage) make him still a vital commodity against the run.
RDE: Phillip Merling Got better each week as a second-round rookie in ’08. Good strength and first step; must learn to finish on his big play opportunities.
3 DE: Randy Starks Off-the-field issues wouldn’t be such a big deal if he weren’t so sluggish on the field.
SLB: Matt Roth Another guy playing for a new contract. Dolphins should give him one – he’s really found his niche under the new regime.
LILB: Channing Crowder One of those gifted athletes who will always be good but never great.
RILB: Akin Ayodele Earns playing time because he’s big and understands the system. Doesn’t play nickel but combats passes as a zone defender well.
WLB: Joey Porter Sack numbers (17.5) were finally bigger than his mouth last season. Strictly a pass-rusher; needs to conserve energy by playing fewer snaps in ’09.
5 LB: Jason Taylor* Returns home after disappearing for a year in Washington. This has a farewell tour feel, though don’t be shocked if he regains at least part of his pre-Redskin form.
CB: Will Allen One of the more unheralded CB’s in the game. Doesn’t quite make enough picks for someone who tends to peek in the backfield, but nevertheless, he’s reliable all-around.
CB: Vontae Davis** Super physical cover corner that a Parcells-influenced defense requires. Attitude could be a question.
NB: Eric Green* Better in Arizona than people realized, at least early in his career. Not a playmaker, but is very quick and physical. Could be the No. 3 CB or fall to No. 6.
SS: Yeremiah Bell Probably should have gone to the Pro Bowl last season. Physical run-stopper; is especially dominant outside the numbers.
FS: Gibril Wilson* Great pickup, assuming this is the “speedy, hard-hitting ex-Giant” and not the “just decent in coverage ex-Raider.”
6 DB: Jason Allen Disappointing first-round bust who has now been demoted by two different coaching staffs. Can’t seem to find a suitable position.
Offseason Quick View
RD PK (OVR) NAME POS SCHOOL
KEY PLAYERS ACQUIRED
OG Joe Berger: UFA Cowboys; $2.175M/3 yrs, guarantees unknown.
CB Eric Green: UFA Cardinals; $6M/3 yrs, $3M guaranteed.
C Jake Grove: UFA Raiders; $29M/5 yrs, $14.5M guaranteed.
DT Tony McDaniel (trade Jaguars).
LB Jason Taylor: FA Redskins; $1.5M/1 yr.
LB Cameron Wake: FA CFL; $4.9M/4 yrs, $1M SB.
S Gibril Wilson: FA Raiders; $27,5M/5 yrs, $8M guaranteed.
KEY PLAYERS LOST
QB John Beck (released).
CB Andre’ Goodman: UFA Broncos; $25M/5 yrs, $10M guaranteed.
S Renaldo Hill: UFA Broncos; $10M/4 yrs, $3M guaranteed.
DE Vonnie Holliday (released).
C Al Johnson: UFA Patriots; $950,000/1 yr.
C Samson Satele (traded Raiders).
Bill Parcells is always one of the busiest front office execs in football. It was clear this past offseason that he and GM Jeff Ireland wanted to improve Miami’s secondary and running game. For secondary help, the Dolphins took a chance on CB Vontae Davis. The talented but reportedly volatile ex-Illini is a physical cover artist who, they hope, can replace underrated veteran Andre Goodman (now with Denver). If Davis can’t, then second-round corner Sean Smith will be given a shot. Smith is also physical and, at 6’3”, 218, has rare size for his position (think of him as the equivalent of a 6’8” point guard).
Renaldo Hill was a solid safety for the Fins, but they’ll get much better run support from Gibril Wilson. The former Giant/Raider is rangy in coverage, as well, though he may not help Miami’s pass defense as much as edge-rushing OLB’s Jason Taylor and Cameron Wake. Taylor’s Dolphin legacy is already secure; now it’s just about buttressing Joey Porter. Wake was a monster in the CFL. Some believe he can be a 10-sack force in America.
For the run game, the Dolphins couldn’t rid themselves of center Samson Satele quick enough. They liked the 24-year-old’s character but found his lack of power too costly. What could prove more costly, however, is the $14.5 million they gave to injury-prone ex-Raider Jake Grove to replace Satele. Grove is solid but overpaid. Also in the run game, the drafting of Pat White in the second round proves that the Dolphins are serious about expanding the Wildcat.
Finally, rookie receivers Patrick Turner (3rd round) and Brian Hartline (4th round) are both potential playmakers who could be given a shot to compete right away.
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