The Miami Dolphins fin-ished (pun intended) the 2012 season with a lowly 7-9 record. Needless to say, there was a lot wrong with that team.
So it makes sense that the pass rush was also weak. It was faulty partially because it relied around only one player, Cameron Wake, in order to be successful. Yes, Wake had a monster season, but his 15 sacks were more than all of the other defensive linemen on the team combined.
When you have a one-man show like the Dolphins did, it is hard to be successful as a unit.
The front office in South Beach took notice of this and used the No. 3 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft on Dion Jordan, defensive end from the University of Oregon.
Jordan will immediately add athleticism and skill to the defensive line. More importantly, he will make the Dolphins pass rush incredibly scary for opposing offenses.
The former Duck played very well during his time at Eugene, picking up 44 tackles, five sacks and four forced fumbles in 2012. In 2011, his junior season, Jordan nabbed seven-and-a-half sacks and added 42 tackles.
The 6’6”, 248-pound rookie is a physical specimen graced with explosive speed and athleticism that doesn't fit his body. He is a dangerous pass rusher, which is part of the reason why Miami pulled the trigger on him. He is extremely fast rushing off the edge. Jordan wraps up and can drag quarterbacks to the ground. His athleticism is his best asset and will serve him the most with the Dolphins.
If he is as good as advertised, then Miami is almost set with Jordan and Wake harassing quarterbacks and keeping offensive coordinators up late at night.
Wake knows a little bit about harassing the opposing team. In a four-year career, he has been named to the Pro Bowl twice and was a first-team All-Pro and Miami Dolphins team MVP in 2012. That same season, his 15 aforementioned sacks were good for fourth in the entire NFL. Wake also added 53 tackles and three forced fumbles, just for good measure.
He is a bona fide superstar and will find offensive lines struggling to block him. This task now becomes especially harder because of the added weapon in Jordan.
However, the Dolphins Swiss army knife isn’t limited to just two tools.
Sophomore Olivier Vernon will also see the field in order to do his job of wrecking havoc. He played many snaps as a rookie and performed fairly well. The Miami (Fla.) product saw action in all 16 games of 2012 and notched 32 tackles, three-and-a-half sacks and two forced fumbles. Vernon is improving in training camp as you read this and has worked on his strength and agility all offseason.
Wake had this to say about Vernon, according to Andy Cohen of "The Finsiders”:
“He’s so hungry. You can see that in everything he does. He’s a smallish defensive end so he can’t go in there timid. The game is not for the meek or mild. He understands this. It’s that pit bull mentality I see a big upside and a player who can help make my life easier.”
If the Dolphins can get all three of those players on the field at the same time then the opposing quarterback will be in for a long day.
Even rotating the three athletes in and out will produce fresh legs and an improved pass rush for the team.
However, the pass rush duties won’t only fall to Jordan, Wake and Vernon.
Jared Odrick, Randy Starks and even Paul Soliai can and will provide pressure on the quarterback as they fly through the gaps. New linebacker Dannell Ellerbe grabbed four-and-a-half sacks in 2012 as a member of the Baltimore Ravens. Look for him to do more of the same in Miami.
In a single season, this team has turned around an area of weakness into a strong facet.
Will the unit be the best pass rushers in the NFL?
That might be a stretch, but I know for sure that the Miami Dolphins will boast a very scary pass rush in 2013.
The rest of the NFL should take notice.
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