Reading up on the Miami Dolphins' training camp can cause you to be either extremely pessimistic or optimistic.
The litmus test for this has to be the battle in the trenches between Miami's porous offensive line and dominant defensive line.
Is Miami's offensive line so bad that it makes a merely decent defensive front look dominant, or is the defensive front so dominant that a decent (but not great) offensive line looks like Swiss cheese?
If you're the overly pessimistic and jaded Dolphins fan described in this piece by my Dolphins Central Radio co-host Ryan Yousefi, you believe the latter. If you're the zombie type he describes, you believe the former.
Well, serve me my brains lightly chilled and call me a zombie all you want, but this Dolphins' defensive line is a dominant one, and we will see just how dominant they will be throughout the season while laughing over how panicked we were about the offensive line.
Not to say the offensive line is great; it isn't. It will be a work in progress throughout the season and will likely result in Miami looking towards drafting that position in Round 1 of next year's draft. It might even cost the team a game, but overall it won't keep the Dolphins from my prediction of making the playoffs.
The elite defensive line will be the reason for that. This is a line that is deep both in the interior and on the outside, with versatile athletes that can play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 (Miami runs a base 4-3), and at times they have looked reminiscent of the defensive front of the New York Giants of 2007 and 2011.
You know, the team that defeated the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl—its defensive front is often credited as the main reason for the success.
Based off of what I saw during Monday's practice, the defensive line was dominant, but they weren't overpowering dominant, more athletic. This was especially seen through Dion Jordan, who only this week started working out in pads.
His dominance over Jonathan Martin started on Monday and continued into Wednesday's practice in Davie, with ESPN's James Walker saying this about Jordan's afternoon:
The rookie defensive end was a terror against Miami's starting offensive line. Jordan registered two sacks while matched up against starting left tackle Jonathan Martin. Jordan also looked good in one-on-one drills. Jordan is very fluid and athletic in his movements and showed flashes of why Miami made him its top pick in April's draft.
Is the Dolphins' defensive line dominant, or is their offensive line poor?
Jordan hasn't been the only member of the defensive line who has impressed. Olivier Vernon, a third-round pick in last year's draft, has had success against Jonathan Martin as well and is pushing Jordan for that starting spot on the right side of the defensive line.
The Dolphins' defensive interior has depth and skill as well, with Paul Soliai and Randy Starks manning the middle. One of the two will be gone next season, but Jared Odrick is already there being groomed to take one of their places and will be used in the rotation.
Odrick has played defensive end in the past as well, but more than likely won't have to be used there.
Then there's free-agent acquisition Vaughn Martin, who in his last two seasons with the San Diego Chargers has started 27 out of 28 games he played in. During that timespan he recorded 46 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
He comes off the bench for the Dolphins and can play defensive end if needed.
That will be highly unlikely though, with Cameron Wake, Dion Jordan and Olivier Vernon getting snaps as Miami's defensive ends, and being the cornerstones of Miami's deepest unit.
Overall, the facts about the Dolphins' defensive line are exactly how Omar Kelly describes it.
Dolphins have 7 starting D-linemen: Wake, Starks, Soliai (all former Pro Bowlers) then Odrick, Jordan (2 1st rd picks), Vernon & Martin— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) August 1, 2013
Except, there are only four starting spots on the defensive line, meaning three players will have to sit on the bench to start the game and rotate in and out. This will ensure that the players are fresh throughout the game, which only adds to the fear this defense can impose upon their opponents.
This allows the defense to be creative, which—as Kelly explains in this tweet—may be the reason for the offensive line's struggles.
I can't held but thing D-line feasting is leading to the O-line struggles. Blitzes are amazing, but fans likely won't see them in exh games— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) August 1, 2013
So don't spend training camp worrying about the offensive line. They will find their groove as John Jerry and Lance Louis nurse themselves back to health.
Instead, be in awe of the defensive line, which looks poised to dominate this season.
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