Thank goodness for Channing Crowder.
That was my initial reaction yesterday while I listened to a portion of his new weekly two hour radio show that debuted on Sunday on WQAM. The reason for my reaction is obvious and rather self-centered. As we continue to wait out this lockout, good ol' Mr. Crowder gave us some discussion-worthy material.
Highlighting that material is Channing's insistence that people "hate" him - which he sees as a good thing.
"I know people hate me," declared Crowder." When people hate on you you’ve got to be doing something right."
I'm not sure what exactly Channing is referring to, though. The fact that I can pinpoint exactly what hatred he's referencing actually says a lot about the individual. Is he referring to any "hate" he receives for some of the outlandish comments he makes off the field? Or is he referring to the "hate" he receives from fans regarding his play on the field?
If it's the former, then there's nothing to see here. We could just chalk this quote up as Channing being Channing and move on. But if he is referring to the criticism that many Miami Dolphins fans have thrown his way for his play, then I think we have something to talk about.
We're all aware of Crowder's short-comings on the field. The man just isn't a play-maker at all. After six years as a starting linebacker for the Dolphins, Crowder has accumulated just 2.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, and 1 interception. Consider this fact. Karlos Dansby, in one season as a Dolphin, has accumulated more sacks and over a third of the tackles for loss that Crowder has accumulated in his entire career. So if fans criticizing his ability on the field to make plays is considered by Channing as "hate," then yes - people do "hate" you, Channing.
But most people know the difference between "criticizing" a player and "hating" a player. And there's no doubt that Crowder is among the most highly criticized players on the roster. But it's not like these criticisms are unwarranted - as the numbers above show.
Obviously the team's decision makers agree with the fans, too. Otherwise the Dolphins would not have went out last offseason and handed free agent linebacker Karlos Dansby the richest contract ever for an inside linebacker.
Now there's no arguing that Crowder was a valuable piece of the defense at one time for this team. I can recall doing a post that showed the dramatic increase in the amount of rushing yards the Dolphins allowed when Crowder was forced to miss a game due to injury as opposed to when he was on the field. Of course, this could simply be a situation where Crowder happens to be exponentially better than his replacement. But still, Channing's specialty is run-stuffing. His ability to "quarterback" the defense and dissect plays on the field is also a big part of Channing's game.
But his inability to blitz effectively and the liability that he is in coverage have relegated Crowder to nothing more than a two-down linebacker.
Again, I'm not "hating." I'm just stating facts.
And here are some more facts. With Crowder sidelined due to injury, the Dolphins still managed to limit the Bills to 2.9 yards per rush in week one. Their season average was 4.3 yards per carry - the 10th best average in the league. The Dolphins also limited Peyton Hillis - an 1,100 yard rusher who averaged 4.4 yards per carry last year - to just 57 yards rushing and 3.2 yards per attempt despite being without Crowder.
With Dansby now entering his second season in Miami, Channing's role has dramatically decreased to the point where some fans might not see Crowder being worth the $2.5 million he's owed in 2011 - coincidentally the final year of his contract.
So if pointing out Channing's diminishing role and wondering aloud if he's valuable enough to this defense to warrant his 2011 salary is considered "hating," then I guess I'm nothing more than a "hater."
But I'm a hater with the best interest of the Miami Dolphins in mind. Where I come from, that's called being a fan.