The San Francisco 49ers suffered a huge setback yesterday with a torn Achilles tendon suffered by wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Last year, Crabtree became the first 1,000 yard receiver for San Francisco since Terrell Owens eclipsed the mark in 2003. As the 49ers, and their fans, deal with the six months of rehab facing one of their top offensive weapons, it made me wonder who would be the worst loss for the Miami Dolphins?
I know some are going to hate this topic, because it could "jinx" someone, but I went ahead and wrote it anyway. Now, knock on wood, nothing will happen.
Looking at the Dolphins' roster, I really think there is only one person that a season ending injury would completely change an aspect of the Dolphins' game. Don't get me wrong, losing anyone would be bad, and the team would have to adapt, but one player sticks out in my mind as someone the team would not be able to replace.
So, who is it? Let's see:
Nope. Not Tannehill. As bad as it would be for Miami to lose Tannehill, there's a reason the team kept Matt Moore. Moore is the "best backup quarterback in the league." Losing Tannehill would be bad, but having Moore behind him softens the blow.
Nope. If the Dolphins could make it through a season with Brian Hartline, half a Davone Bess, and no one else, I am sure they would be able to overcome the loss of their newest toy. The offense would not be as explosive, but Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Armon Binns, and Dustin Keller would be able to pick up the slack, I am sure.
Still no. The defense would be hobbled by the loss of Wake, but that does not mean it would go down for the count. Paul Soliai and Randy Starks would still be able to clog the middle. Jared Odrick, Olivier Vernon, Derrick Shelby, and rookie Dion Jordan would simply have to step up and get to opposing quarterbacks.
I almost went here, just because Jones has become the playmaker of the secondary. I assume that the change in cornerbacks this year, and either Kelcie McCray or Jimmy Wilson would be able to fill in for the loss of Jones. In other words, nope.
Okay, this one is even closer to being the right answer. With Jake Long gone, the offensive line needs a leader. Pouncey was given the team's Don Shula Leadership Award on Tuesday, so he better be the leader of the line. Losing him could be devastating to a retooled offensive line, where it looks like three of the five positions are already going to be manned by players that were not in those positions to start last year. Pouncey might be the right answer.
But, he's not my answer. So, who is?
Fields led the league in punting average last year. He kicks the ball over 50-yards a kick. He pinned teams inside their own 20-yard line 29 times. To put into perspective what the Dolphins have in Fields, Reggie Roby lead the league one time, in 1991, when he averaged 45.7 yards per kick. That's the only year he topped 45 yards per kick in his career - and he only kicked 54 times. Field kicked 74 times last year.
In six seasons, Fields has been better than 46 yards per kick four times, all the last four years. He's never kicked the ball fewer than 73 times.
Simply put, Fields is a weapon that the Dolphins have, and cannot afford to lose. The loss of Tannehill, Wake, Wallace, Jones, Pouncey, or anyone else would be horrible for the team, but it is not like there is another punter capable of getting anywhere near Fields' production. The others can be replaced - maybe not to the same level, or by just one person, but they can be replaced. Lose Fields, and you lose the ability to simply change field position at any time during the game.
I know many, many of you will disagree with me, so let's hear it in the comments below.
(Oh, and check out David Fucillo's reaction to the news that the 49ers lost Crabtree as well.)
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