There has been a lot of talk about Mike Nolan's effect on our defense (and rightfully so). We all know he revamped a struggling Denver defense last year, but don't realize what he actually worked with. Denver had a complete defensive makeover last off-season. They brought in a lot of veteran players (some better than others), so let's see how we match up in comparison. I spent an entire class period writing this up so enjoy...
- Nose Tackle
Fields was the starting nose tackle on a team that was ranked 7th in defense. If they can do it with him there is no doubt in my mind Nolan wont utilize a talent like Starks to be effective.
Starks played at a borderline Pro Bowl level last year at defensive end. Profootballfocus.com had him ranked as the #2 3-4 DE.There's no denying he's a talented player, but many are questioning the transition. I'm not worried because Nolan has been effective with worse, and Starks is as talented as they come.
According to Profootballfocus.com Holliday, McBean, and Peterson were ranked 3, 34, and 38 respectively amongst 3-4 DE's. With the exception of Holliday these are pedestrian players at best.
Langford has been a starter since day 1. He is emerging as one of the better 3-4 ends in the league and is only getting better. Profootballfocus.com ranked him 7th amongst 3-4 DE's last year, and he was only in his second year. Now Odrick is a rookie; therefore unproven up to this point, but there is no denying the impact he could potentially have on this defense. He kind of became the starter by default after Phillip Merling went down with an injury. Since then the Dolphins brought in veterans Charles Grant and Marques Douglas, but they ended up being cut and replaced with younger players. Maybe it was a vote of confidence for Odrick as a starter?
- Inside Linebacker
D.J. Williams is a good player but, he may be better suited for the 4-3. As for Andra Davis he is a solid player who's going to rack up tackles. He is very similar to his Florida counterpart in Channing Crowder.
2010 Dolphins: Karlos Dansby, Channing Crowder
With all due respect to Williams, he is no Dansby. Dansby is a flat out playmaker, and he's the type of player you want quarterbacking your defense. WHEN healthy Crowder is a legitimate starter in the NFL. Though his lack of plays makes him somewhat invisible; the inside of our defense seems invisible when he's not there.
- Outside Linebackers
We all know Dumervil is an exceptional pass rusher, but isn't that good when it comes to run defense and coverage. Dumervil was rated the 2nd worst run defender in the league, and in the bottom third when it comes to coverage.
We all know Wake has some pass rush potential as well, but the knock on him is his coverage and stopping the run. Hmm sound familiar? Now of course we can't compare Wake to Dumervil in terms of production, but you got to admit these guys are more similar than they are different. Misi is a jack of all trades. He isn't necessarily amazing in any one particular area. With that being said there is no reason to set him up with high expectations. Like Odrick, Misi is a rookie; therefore unproven so we'll just have to wait and see.
9 time Pro Bowler, 6 time All-Pro, and just an overall staple at the cornerback position . Even at the age of 32 Bailey is still a tough act to follow. Goodman battled injuries during his tenure with the Dolphins, but was able to put in a hell of a season in 08'. He did start off a little rough but as the season progressed he just got better and better. That high level of play he displayed with the Dolphins kept on rolling last season in Denver. As for Ty Law... no comment.
Davis has the potential to become a top flight corner in this league. With that being said he's only entering his 2nd season in the league, and his production cannot be compared to an accomplished player such as Bailey. Sean Smith became the 1st rookie to start in all 16 games at cornerback, but since then his play has regressed and now he is benched in favor of Jason Allen. To most Dolphin fans Allen has been seen as both underachieving and inconsistent. With all fairness to Allen, it's hard to be consistent your position is consistently changing. This will be the first time Allen has worked exclusively at cornerback in 2 consecutive seasons. At this point Goodman has an edge on both Smith and Allen.
8 time Pro Bowler, 7 time All-Pro. Sure he's past his prime, but even at age 36 Dawkins still has the veteran savvy to be effective. And even at 36 there is no comparison to Clemons at this point in his career. Throughout his career Renaldo Hill has been a solid player on the back end. He's not overly flashy but he gets the job done.
2010 Dolphins: Chris Clemons & Yeremiah Bell
Bell is clearly the better player. After breaking out in 08', Bell has proved to be a vital part of the secondary. His play earned him a spot on the AFC Pro Bowl squad last year, and I wouldn't expect anything less from him this year. In his limited play last year Clemons was shaky at best. Of the many problems we had on defense this preseason Clemons wasn't one of them. I think people are overlooking the fact that he's been quiet for the most part. Sure we would like him to notice him for making plays, but at the same time we should be happy he hasn't made himself noticed for giving up plays. As long as he can provide some solid play, I think the plays will eventually follow.