Each year in the off-season, NFL teams and their coaches are constantly thinking of ways they can improve their chances of winning the Super Bowl.
The best ways to do that are usually through free agency and the NFL draft. With the addition of new personnel comes added flexibility for the coaching staff. Different plays, formations, and wrinkles can be added to the play book to confuse teams.
The Dolphins have made quite a few additions in the off-season that should change the play book, either on the offensive or defensive side of the ball.
Let's take a look at a few of those changes.
Perhaps one of the most popular picks in the 2009 NFL Draft, every Dolphins fan is excited to see former West Virginia quarterback Patrick White line up in the famed "Wildcat" formation.
The biggest question is, how many touches will Pat White receive each game? I don't think anybody outside the coaches' office in LandShark Stadium holds the answer to that one.
I'm guessing around five plays per game, but that number could definitely run high because I'd love to see a lot of Pat White out on the football field. Utilizing White in the shotgun would be an excellent idea, simply because he's so comfortable with the shotgun coming from West Virginia.
The Dolphins could have Ronnie Brown hand him the ball on a "jet-sweep" play, where White would line up as a receiver and motion across the formation, and have Brown hand White the ball running full speed.
There are so many formations you could use with Pat White—the possibilities truly are endless. I have a feeling Offensive Coordinator Dan Henning is definitely going to explore his options.
Here's a play: Have White line up on the far right side of the field as a receiver. Then have Chad Pennington take the snap in the shotgun, only to hand the ball off to White—who is running full speed on a reverse pass play. He could make the decision whether or not to toss it up to Ted Ginn Jr. for a deep ball.
Teams will have to respect the run with Pat White so he's going to really help keep defenses honest. That will also help open for his passing lanes on reverse passes and "Wildcat" plays.
White lining up in the shotgun and throwing a "bubble-screen" to a receiver like Davone Bess? Oh buddy, that's gonna be like being on the playground again for White. It was one of his bread-and-butter plays at West Virginia. He'll be singing "Take Me Home, Country Roads" before you know it!
Just imagine having Pat White in the shotgun, with Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown flanking him in the backfield. What about having Ronnie Brown line up on his right side and then run the "zone-read" play, where White can either fake the hand-off to Ronnie Brown and throw it, fake the hand-off and decide to run it, or just hand it off to Brown?
Offensive coordinator Dan Henning's grease board has to be smoking from the possibilities. He's told his players that he's fired up about the 2009 season and with a jack-of-all trades type of player like Pat White in the Wildcat, why wouldn't he be?
Jason Taylor, let me be one of the many that have already said how great it is to have you back in a Dolphins uniform!
The 6-foot-6, 244-pounder had one of his worst seasons in his 13-year NFL career last year with the Redskins, and after reading his interviews, it's not really a surprise. His heart was always with the Dolphins. From the moment he got on the plane to go to Washington, he didn't feel comfortable with the move.
Need evidence of how much Taylor missed his home? Take a look at his contract. Taylor signed a one-year deal worth $1.5 million with the 'Phins, simply chump change for a future Hall-of-Famer.
Throughout his 13-year NFL career, the Akron product has consistently been among the league's top pass rushers, racking up 11 or more sacks in six of those seasons.
Defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni has to be downright giddy with the return of Taylor. It gives his 3-4 defense even more flexibility and will likely allow him to blitz a wide variety of his linebackers.
Pasqualoni loves to run an attacking style 3-4 that puts a ton of pressure on the quarterback, so Taylor will fit perfectly into his scheme. The Dolphins defense racked up 40 sacks last season and the addition of Taylor will likely increase that number.
It will also provide more opportunities for linebackers Joey Porter and Channing Crowder to get after the quarterback. If such a thing is even possible for Porter, who had a career-high 18 sacks last season.
Either way, the possibilities are endless with the attacking 3-4 defense that the Dolphins currently run.
With the addition of Jason Taylor, the Dolphins defense is one step closer to becoming a very dominant unit.
Seems like the Dolphins are snagging up all the Raiders' talent these days. From all the fans in Fin-land, I'd like to extend a huge thanks to Al Davis for being so generous in letting such talent leave the Bay Area.
The addition of safety Gibril Wilson will help Yeremiah Bell in plenty of ways—for one, he won't need to work nearly as hard.
Wilson and Bell will complement each other beautifully.
"We should not miss one tackle back there," Wilson said. "We can both blitz, we can both tackle, we can both run. We can complement each other. We have to be able to move around and disguise it well, they don't know who is coming, what we're doing."
It also shores up the Dolphins' secondary and will allow linebackers like Joey Porter, Akin Ayodele, Channing Crowder and co. to be even more aggressive in blitz packages.
The Dolphins' secondary will be much improved, and with experienced players like Wilson and Bell playing deep, it will help to bring along some of the younger members of the secondary like Vontae Davis and Sean Smith.
If the rookies make a mistake, then they know that Wilson and Bell will likely have their back.
Chalk up yet another player that will make defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni's job that much easier this fall.
When your offense operates out of the shotgun as much as the Miami Dolphins did last season, a center is paramount to your team's offensive success.
A consistent snap of the football back to the signal-caller goes an extremely long way in helping your offense find a rhythm and operate effectively.
Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown's "bread-and-butter" running play was faking the hand-off to Ricky Williams and dashing right up the middle of the defense.
If you're going to be running up the middle of a defense, then center Jake Grove is just the man you would want to follow.
One of the best centers I've ever seen in college, Grove was a unanimous All-American his senior year at Virginia Tech. He also received the Dave Rimington Trophy, the award given to the nation's best center.
He recently signed a five-year deal worth $29 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed. He'll be worth every penny.
The Dolphins' running game and "Wildcat" formation will definitely improve with Grove running the controls of the offensive line.
The center is the key to communication along the offensive line, pointing out blitzes, and making sure that other offensive linemen pick up the right man.
Having a center like Grove in the trenches will not only improve the Dolphins running game, but their passing game as well. He's an immensely talented veteran who will help to share his knowledge with young offensive linemen, such as tackle Jake Long as well.
Jake Grove—a welcomed change for the Miami Dolphins.