The Miami Dolphins preseason opener pumped optimism into fans after a opening drive touchdown by the first team offense led by Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins' offense looked crisp and promising.
Conversely, the first team offense allowed a 15-play touchdown drive when they took the field for the first time in 2014. The Dolphins linebackers, projected by many to be the weakest unit on the defense, each missed at least one tackle in the preseason opener (a result of bad angles, limited tackling in practices and simple rust).
Strongside linebacker Philip Wheeler graded out as the worst Dolphins' defender on the night according to ProFootballFocus.com, though he did have a few nice blitzes (his strong suit). Wheeler has all the tools to be a good linebacker in the NFL, as he was in his time with the Oakland Raiders, but as it stands now Wheeler seems as though he will be a liability again this year and will likely have a reduced role in this defense.
Dolphins' defensive end Dion Jordan may be a solution to the Wheeler problem. Jordan played LB sparingly in his injury-marred rookie season and has the size and athleticism to make a huge impact on defense. Jordan also played a snap of linebacker in Friday's exhibition game, which tells me the Dolphins haven't given up on experimenting with Jordan's position.
Jordan, who played in space often in his days at Oregon, can solve the Dolphins' issue with covering tight ends as he can blanket TEs with his length. Jordan also carries no lack of physicality after his year of being bred to play a defensive end.
Jordan saw extensive time at DE on Friday and was outperformed by rookie DE Terrence Fede. This fact alone forces the Dolphins to re-evaluate where Jordan can have the greatest impact on this defense.
If Fede's development continues to go smoothly then the Dolphins will be five deep at DE. This type of depth would allow the Dolphins to shift Jordan, who wouldn't be in a starting spot anyway, to the starting strongside linebacker spot.
Moving Jordan to LB is probably the best course of action for the 2014 season, whether it's temporary or permanent. Even if the move is only temporary and Jordan would move back to DE after the season, it would solve the Dolphins' linebacking issues while also buying the team time to find least one new, athletic linebacker or develop Jordan Tripp or Chris McCain into starting caliber linebackers.
My ultimate fantasy regarding Jordan is that he will be used in a completely new and creative position that's a hybrid between defensive end and linebacker, similar to a strongside linebacker in a 4-3 Over defense. I envision Jordan in a stand-up alignment, playing on the strong side of the formation with the option to either drop back in coverage or attack the line of scrimmage on each play (with opposing offenses struggling to identify what Jordan will be doing on any given play).
Of course, nothing can happen until Jordan returns from his four-game suspension, which will give the Dolphins an adequate timetable to gauge if the shifting of Jordan's position is even necessary or if he will be needed on the line. Also, the Dolphins' coaching staff needs to determine that Wheeler is indeed a liability and if
There are a lot of moving parts and requirements to making this position switch happen, but when weighing the positives and negatives of the move and looking at the alternatives that will be in place if the move doesn't happen, the decision almost seems to make itself. The benefits of this move could tighten many screws along the Dolphins' defense.
Now that you have read my viewpoint on this situation, would you like to see the move made?