The sun is rising above the bay as I leave the Starbucks on Biscayne Boulevard and make my way over to Balans, for breakfast. I’m only down here for a few days, before going back home on Sunday. It’s not any hotter here than it was there, so there are no major adjustments to make in that regard. South Florida is a lot less crowded at this time of year, in contrast to all the tourists that come to Chicago in the Summer.
It’s a new day for the Miami Dolphins’ defensive line, too, and when opposing offenses come to Hard Rock Stadium in September, they’ll have to deal with the scorching sun and the heat of the blistering pass rush Miami intends to mount against them. You can be sure that quarterbacks who come to call won’t be looking forward to facing the Dolphins’ four headed monster at defensive end, in Cameron Wake, William Hayes, the newly acquired Robert Quinn and last year’s first round pick, Charles Harris. Too bad there isn’t a sunscreen available that will ward off pass rushers.
Until proven otherwise, the 36 year old Wake is still the crown jewel of Miami’s defense. A five time Pro Bowler, he ran a ridiculous 4.55 forty yard dash prior to the 2005 draft. The Dolphins will try to limit his snaps this season to keep him fresh, but they’ve been saying that for about three years now. A relentless competitor, Wake comes hard off the corner from his left end position and closes faster than a life insurance salesman.
In his eleventh season, and second with the Dolphins, Hayes isn’t as renowned a pass rusher as some of the other guys on this unit; his specialty is knifing through the line to stuff opposing ballcarriers in their tracks before they can get back to the line of scrimmage. He can be stubborn against the run, and also has more speed than people think. He ran a 4.59 coming out of college. Quinn will join the others in teeing off on quarterbacks this season, as well. His 62 1/2 sacks and 20 forced fumbles over the course of his seven year career bode well for Miami in 2018. Rounding out the quartet is second year man Charles Harris, who, like his three teammates, has speed to burn. Still acclimating to the pro game, he hasn’t even scratched the surface of his immense athletic ability.
Things are less clear at defensive tackle, where perennial underachiever Jordan Phillips, trade acquisition Akeem Spence and 2017 fifth round pick Davon Godcheaux will rotate at the position. Last year’s sixth rounder, Vincent Taylor and 2018 undrafted college free agent Jamiyus Pittman, from UCF, could see time as well, assuming that at least one of them makes the 53 man roster, which is far from a sure thing.
As has been the case in recent years, the only question is whether this group will be able to stop the run. Hopefully, with better personnel playing behind them, Miami’s front four will be more stout, and at much more reasonable price, than they have been previously. It’s an exciting time to be a Dolphin fan.