Miami's defense, behind second-year NFL defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, post one of the meaner 3-4 defenses in the league.
They are, without a doubt, anchored by a voracious linebacking corps of four-time Pro Bowler Joey Porter and career ironman Akin Ayodele, who has never missed a game in his impressive seven-year run in the league.
These two combined for 117 tackles, about 100 yards of sack output, and a pair of picks for good measure in 2008.
The left side of the linebacking unit pits steadily improving Channing Crowder and Matt Roth side-by-side. Crowder has been rewarded for his efforts with a new three-year, $6.1 million contract.
Of course, the re-signing of Jason Taylor leaves the prevalent possibility that Roth, the weakest link of the linebackers, could see a more limited role as Taylor is expected to see snaps at DE and LOLB.
The latter position is where he's currently listed on the team's depth chart.
On the three-man defensive line, the criminal implications for Randy Starks and the release of Vonnie Holiday leave Kendall Langford and Phillip Merling the, more or less, uncontested starting ends.
Langford is a second-year guy trying to drop some of the adverse poundage that led to his poor sack total and lack of burst in his rookie season.
Behind him is the talented and more toned, yet oft-injured, Tony McDaniel, who played his longest season with Jacksonville in 2006.
Phillip Merling is the second piece of Miami's 2008 resuscitation of their defensive line, as Merling was drafted one round ahead of Langford.
Merling, like his classmate, has plenty room to improve but has the frame to get where he needs to be.
Merling sports a trim 290 lb. body and a 6'4" figure with even longer arms, perfect for doing things like, say, intercepting Brett Favre and taking it to the house, as he did on Dec. 28 in the game that booked Miami's first postseason ticket in seven years.
Another Dallas-export, Jason Ferguson, is once again slated to start at nose tackle, really out of optimism, as the 12-year OL veteran (that's like 100 in kicker years) has had a tough go of it health-wise since 2007.
Last year, despite dressing 16 times, Ferguson missed a handful of games due to an oblique injury. It was his first season as a Dolphin.
Benefiting from his missed time is Paul Soliai, who only recorded three tackles through 14 games in 2008.
Despite this, Miami didn't draft anybody else for the position. They, instead, waited until after Draft weekend to sign Louis Ellis, a 320-pounder out of Division-II.
Ellis has little wear and tear after four years of D-II ball with Shaw University, and, at the very least, should push Soliai for Ferguson's backup role.
The fact that the team did not draft or pick up via trade or free agency a more notorious anchor tells me that a.) Ferguson felt good in his offseason preparations, and b.) Ellis is a guy Miami scouted up there in Raleigh, and they felt confident he'd be available post-draft.
However, really be sure and watch the race between these three guys this offseason, as the ability to plug the middle of the field would really free things up for the blitz packages the linebackers like to execute on the wings.
Otherwise, they have to drift toward the middle and play the run.