Can Tim Dobbins unseat Channing Crowder?

Channing Crowder. Some love him. Some can't stand him. Whatever you think about him, though, he has clearly become a polarizing figure amongst Dolphin fans.

One of the most unheralded and overshadowed moves made this offseason was the acquisition of Tim Dobbins. To many, Dobbins isn't anything more than the "extra" that was thrown into the deal that allowed the Dolphins to move back in round one of the draft and recover that second rounder that they lost in their trade with Denver. But what if Dobbins is more than just depth at linebacker and a stand-out special teams player?

Everyone is aware that Crowder had a rather disappointing season in 2009. He just wasn't around the ball enough - a big reason why the Dolphins handed Karlos Dansby his huge contract this offseason. His 52 total tackles in 13 games represented a huge drop-off from his career high set just one year earlier. And his lack of game-changing plays remains a constant problem.

Still, Channing still seems to believe he has nothing to worry about. And this is after the Dolphins handed Dansby his giant contract and acquired many new linebackers, including at least two who will certainly play inside linebacker. Crowder's thoughts?

"I don’t care. They’ve brought a lot of great linebackers in since I’ve been here, and I’ve played with a lot of great ones. I always look at it as just more toys for me to be out there with, more talent for me to play with."

"I’m a very confident guy. I’m going to be on the field. I’m going to play football next season."

Enter Tim Dobbins. Is he flashy? No. But the fans in San Diego really seemed to love him. And they actually make mention of a number of huge plays that he made during his limited playing time. Dolphin fans can't really say the same thing about Channing, can they?

Let's look at the numbers. In 717 snaps, Crowder tallied 52 tackles, one sack, three tackles for loss, and one interception. Dobbins, meanwhile, had 55 tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, and one interception. And all that in just 297 defensive snaps.

Keep in mind that defensive statistics vary based on where you look. Regardless, it's clear that Dobbins was probably more productive per defensive snap than Crowder. To be fair, though, the 2009 version of Crowder looked completely different than the player we saw in 2008. He didn't make big plays in '08, either. But he was a constant factor when teams attempted to run on the Dolphins, leading to his career high 113 tackles (92 of which were solo).

So what happens now? After all, Crowder has essentially been relegated to a two-down linebacker now following the signing of Dansby (who will take over as the MIKE linebacker) and the drafting of A.J. Edds (who is expected to play sooner rather than later as a third down coverage linebacker in their nickel defense).

Is there a chance that Crowder, in year two of a three year contract worth around $14 million, loses his starting job completely? Can Tim Dobbins come in here and take Channing's new role position right out from under him?

Let's hear it...

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