Only weeks ago, everyone affiliated with the Miami Dolphins was astounded by the amount of weight that DE Dion Jordan had put on and how much bigger he looked.
It turns out that Jordan didn't take the most natural route to get these results that (in hindsight) seemed to come quick to a once-lanky and skinny Jordan. On Thursday, Jordan was suspended by the NFL for four games after testing positive for a performance enhancing substance.
First of all I want to say how did we not see something like this coming? Jordan put on a solid 15 pounds in just the few months between the end of the season and the start of Organized Team Activities. For someone as tall and lanky as him, that's not easy to do.
Second, I want to know why Jordan didn't check with doctors to know what he was doing was illegal? With all the ridiculous types of protein and whatnot out there, why take something that puts your eligibility with the NFL at risk? With all the resources available to an NFL player, it's inexcusable for this to happen (though it happens to players every year).
Now that I've gotten those thoughts out of the way, let me get to how I think it will affect the team.
Three of those four teams have high-powered offenses. Two of them have very good quarterbacks. Two of four of these quarterbacks are also mobile, which could create more running for the defensive ends.
The Dolphins would love to have to depth and rotational abilities that Jordan provides when he is available, and they would undoubtedly benefit.
However, it isn't essential.
The Dolphins have two defensive ends not named Dion Jordan who have received praise this offseason from coaches and media. One is Olivier Vernon, who is primed for his first Pro Bowl season, and the other is Derrick Shelby, a solid rotational player who has gotten himself into better shape this offseason with the "Cam Wake Offseason Program".
Vernon was one of the Dolphins' breakout players in 2013, finishing the season with a team-leading 11.5 sacks. Vernon had two separate stretches of four games with at least one sack.
Vernon has only made more noise since then, getting the better of newly acquired left tackle Branden Albert many times throughout OTAs and the scrimmage that was held in the minicamp of late June.
Shelby has been praised for his work ethic, fundamentals and pure ability to be around the football. Shelby, a former undrafted free agent from Utah, had two sacks and two forced fumbles in 2013 playing primarily in relief for Cam Wake on the left side of the defensive line.
Shelby will be forced to contribute more in the first four games, but Shelby, entering his third year in the NFL, is ready for it. Shelby might start seeing more time at right DE to give Vernon a rest, but more than likely this opens the door for former Marist standout Terrence Fede to not only make the roster but to earn some snaps on defense.
Fede, a 2014 seventh round pick, still has a ton to learn between now and the beginning of the season, but undoubtedly he sees his opportunity. It's unclear if Fede will be able to take advantage, but I like his chances for two reasons.
One, he is extremely athletic and versatile, tallying 30.5 sacks in his career at Marist while playing multiple positions along the defensive front and returning an interception for a touchdown in one of the Dolphins' offseason practices.
Two, he will be working with defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers. Rodgers is one of Dolphins top coaches and, until the addition of John Benton as offensive line coach, was the best positional coach in Miami.
Rodgers has developed the likes of Paul Soliai, who was once considered a bust, Randy Starks, Kendall Langford, Jared Odrick, Cam Wake, Derrick Shelby and Olivier Vernon. He will look to add Fede to the ever-growing list of prospects he has developed.
So what does this all mean? The suspension of DE Dion Jordan is extremely unfortunate for both him and the Dolphins, but it is not crippling. It adds to the bad publicity that the Dolphins have been earning over the past year, but it won't have a huge affect on the outcome of the season.
For the first four games of the season, the Dolphins DE rotation won't be as deep or talented, but it'll manage. The group still has a Pro Bowler in Cam Wake, a future Pro Bowler in Olivier Vernon, ample depth and one of the best position coaches in the league.
Jordan is supremely talented, has a tremendous amount of upside and will be a star one day, but as it stands now he is a back-up DE. Probably the most talented back-up in the league, but a back-up nonetheless. If this suspension affects the season then the team was never destined for greatness anyway.