Maybe I'm being overconfident but at the age of 27 I'm ready for the most successful season these eyes have ever witnessed. I'm not sure exactly where that leaves us at the end of the year but I do know that I love the maturation, chemistry and continuity that resides here. Those things aren't able to be measured or even anticipated. Young players bloom over a three year period. Units become cohesive during that time. Things that will benefit some players on this roster can't be seen until the blood is pumping and the whistles are blowing. It's knowing what your teammate will do before your teammate decides to do it that can make up for a lack of talent. Three years allow you to look at a teammate and tell a story without saying a word.
Some in the media have predicted good things from the Dolphins this year but many are still sleeping on them. It's funny because with my current level of confidence I'd normally be up in arms if someone didn't have this team rated top 10 already. This time around I completely understand. In my mind it's not about the addition of Brandon Marshall, Karlos Dansby and Mike Nolan. It's about everyone that's been here since 2008 although the three previously mentioned names should be more than enough for those in the media with doubts. An impact player on each side of the ball and an aggressive DC is exactly what the doctor ordered. The depth that was missing last year isn't anything hard to find. They've displayed the ability to stock the team with depth and youth. It was the impact players that were truly missing.
I've had this beat stuck in my head for about a week now. The Trifecta has stocked this team with exactly the theme of this song, winners. Not only that but leaders. Sure a few players have had recent issues with the law but the vast majority of this team was drafted based on their leadership qualities. Not just this year with all the captains drafted but since 2008. They haven't drafted anyone with questionable character and Philip Merling is the only one that could prove they were wrong about. He showed no signs of questionable character before the draft which is what annoys me when guys like Alex Marvez turn an unfortunate incident into a Fins witch hunt.
Being the underdog is welcomed in my mind. The reaction and attitude of this team is exactly that of a winner. Every single time I hear one of these players speak I'm hearing confidence. I see focus in their eyes. Their choice of words are well spoken and when looked at as a whole show a team on the same page. I don't expect outsiders to recognize this so when the media sleeps on us I expect it.
Any of us can pinpoint the questionable positions that are causing some to wonder if we're legit. Obviously FS is the one spot that may have been neglected with only 5th round pick Reshad Jones being added. I know this because I was so wrapped up in a recent free agent FS that ended up returning to the Rams. I typed his name so much that I can't bring myself to do it again. The lack of contract details being leaked by his agent suggest a team friendly contract likely due to the lack of interest by other suitors. I suppose that means he could have been had at a relative bargain so I've gone back and taken a broader look at the situation.
The FS position with us isn't defined by the player. It's defined by the pressure. That's why Renaldo Hill worked in 2008 and Gibril Wilson didn't in 2009. It's also why Paul Pasqualoni is gone and Mike Nolan was brought in. Chris Clemons is the best option based on youth and speed. On the surface it seems that the pressure should directly mask our young secondary and I'm confident they'll pull it off. The pressure leads me to another position that many in the media are likely dwelling on when judging the Fins, LB.
Karlos Dansby is an impact player but somehow his signing almost went under the radar. I'm still not sure how that happened. He's been one of the best at his position and he's early in his prime. It's easy to expect him to excel and improve here. Julius Peppers may have been the recognizable name and the defensive signing hyped by the media but he just doesn't have the recent resume of Karlos Dansby. He automatically makes the players around him better and as they grow chemistry it's going to get better and better.
The OLB positions are two of the spots that we can expect the unexpected and it's because of Karlos Dansby and Mike Nolan. This is where I expect things like chemistry, continuity and maturation to play the biggest role. If you're like me then you assume the Trifecta present the best case scenario in regards to developing players. That's why I look at Charlie Anderson and Quentin Moses as a numbers game. Each has shown flashes and each has spent three years developing. I'm excited to see them sink or swim because those two are almost the definition of the development that started in 2008.
Cameron Wake proved last year that he has the tools to get to the QB. Now it's a matter of sustaining that through an entire game as well as displaying new skills in coverage. Maybe we're expecting a bit too much too early here but his age suggests that now's the time. Not only that but at the rate they're turning over this roster they'll be forced to address his role next year if Cam Wake can't get the job done this year.
I don't like to bank on players that haven't played for us yet but the depth of this draft and the draft status of Koa Misi suggests that he could easily walk in here and be an extremely pleasant surprise. Bottom line here is the four previously mentioned LBs need to fill two positions. Each are capable so those are pretty good odds from a numbers standpoint. Throw in Mike Nolan, Karlos Dansby, our team chemistry and natural maturation in a positive environment and I feel very good about our second most glaring roster hole as well as the key to masking the youth in the secondary.
On the other side of the ball it all comes down to one guy. Many would say Chad Henne, Brandon Marshall or even Ronnie Brown. Not me. For me it comes down to Jake Long and the advancements of his game in year three. He's steadily improved so it's easy to expect that to continue. He's the reason we've managed on offense for two years and he's the reason why anyone has had the time to develop during a game. Now we'll see what the addition of another impact player in Brandon Marshall will do for Jake Long. That extra man in the box that he'd normally need to deal with won't be there lots of the time now.
They've managed to insulate many young players on offense and allow them to develop. If it's a numbers game then look at Chad Henne, Davone Bess, Greg Camarillo, Anthony Fasano, Joey Haynos, Vernon Carey, Donald Thomas and Nat Garner. Each has shown signs of development and flashed solid if not dominate play since 2008. There's no reason not to expect all of them to continue to develop and the addition of Brandon Marshall should further insulate their development. You can even say that Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams have improved with this leadership. 2009 additions Brian Hartline, Jake Grove and Pat White can easily benefit as well in this environment. Less pressure means less risk for injury for Jake Grove.
When I look at this roster I feel confident. I see the plan and recognize the high likelihood that our unknowns will quickly become the known once given the opportunity. Even in the case that a player sinks instead of swims there's a capable guy waiting behind him for a chance. This roster is a true numbers game and in order to begin finishing the development of some guys we'll need to give them an extended chance beyond spot play. At least we know that the Trifecta won't sit tight and allow someone to under-perform for an extended period. They'll find the answers faster than most.
I know some here are skilled in scouting talent. You can recognize physical potential. Some of you question what you've seen from some of these guys so look at the unmeasurable aspects of this roster for your answers. Look at the impact that Brandon Marshall had on the Denver offense as well as everything Karlos Dansby did for that Cardinals defense. Both have almost carried their previous units at times and both are the definition of on-field consistency.
The final piece of the puzzle here for me is Tony Sparano. He too has gotten better every game since his arrival. Sure he's hit some bumps along the way but he comes off as someone that learns from mistakes. Not only that but he has a true mentor in Bill Parcells to point him in the right direction and right his wrongs. Not only our coach but the entire staff as well. This environment they've created here not only promotes player development. Coaches should progress as well.
I'm not unrealistic so I've asked myself if I've pointed out things that are going on elsewhere as well. Maybe a few teams have this going on for them as well but I don't think anyone is on the verge like we are. The addition of impact this year is what puts us over the top. Every single one of these players is hungry. They made the trenches a priority since 2008 which has brought a toughness that has spread throughout. This team is primed to start strong and dictate the terms of games. The unknown is what is keeping many in the media from predicting great things for the Fins in 2010 which is funny because the unknown is what's going to give us the edge early in the season. Teams are forced to prepare for us instead of the other way around.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed. I've been quite busy for the last month so I figured this was a good way to jump back in. Hopefully everyone had a nice holiday. I just can't wait for this team to take the field because true play will be the only proof that show these players worthy of being labeled Super Bowl contenders. Training Camp will be fun but these same questions will exist for players that have yet to prove it full time in a game. Have patience and apply your confidence in our leadership. They've consistently displayed the ability to answer more questions than most others in the offseason so sit back and appreciate the maturation of investments we've made since 2008. Everything suggests that this team is ready now.