Miami Dolphins Better Off In a 4-3 Defense?

Zach GreenContributor IMay 8, 2010

The Miami Dolphins have made a lot of changes to their team this off-season, most of them for the good. For instance picking up Karlos Dansby via free agency and Brandon Marshall via trade were the two major additions. We also had a very solid draft bringing in Jared Odrick, Koa Misi, and John Jerry who all have a good chance to start off the bat, and guys like AJ Edds and Reshad Jones have a good chance of contributing. While getting rid of players like Akin Ayodele and Gibril Wilson who were non contributors and overall hurt the team last year. On the other hand not signing Jason Taylor and letting him go to our bitter rival, the hated New York Jets could turn out to be a mistake; overall I like the direction this team is going in, bringing in young talent that if all turns out as planned, we will be a force to be reckoned with in the AFC East and NFL for years to come.

Another big time addition that gets overlooked because he is not a player is Mike Nolan. It is extremely important to have a good defensive coordinator in this league, just look at how Rex Ryan turned the Jets into a Super Bowl contender in one year. It may be turning into a vertical passing league, but defense can still win championships. The Dolphins defense looks pretty solid on paper as of now, outside of maybe free safety or outside linebacker; but what if we switched to a 4-3 defense? Look at our questions about the front seven in a 3-4 defense. Can Cameron Wake cover a tight end and is he athletic enough to be a linebacker in this league? Can Randy Starks make the transition to nose tackle? Is Koa Misi big enough to be a strong side linebacker in a 3-4? Would Jared Odrick be as good as a right end in a 3-4 as he is as a DT in a 4-3, which is his natural position i might add. How good is Dansby as a ILB in a 3-4? If you recall he only played one year there and had a far less productive year than when he played in a 4-3 with Arizona, not saying that he wasn't a solid linebacker its just he may be better suited as an OLB in a 4-3.

How can the Dolphins answer these questions? Simple, switch to more of a 4-3 defense. We will probably run a hybrid type 3-4 anyways because of our versatility. But why not make it a hybrid 4-3? Why not play to our strengths? Just think about our defense in a 4-3. We could have Cameron Wake as our right end which plays to his strengths because he is an elite pass rusher and would be better suited there rather than having to stand up in a 3-4, I feel like we would be able to generate more pressure on the QB with him there. Our DT's would be Odrick and Starks which might be the strength of the entire defense which is a good thing because it all starts up front. Just think about how much havoc we could wreak up front, Odrick and Starks would both be in their natural positions and we wouldn't have to worry about Starks having to take up two offensive lineman and somewhat take away from his strengths. Both Starks and Odrick would be great pass rushers in the middle and would create more opportunities for Wake coming off the edge, it would be a lethal combination. Not to mention Kendall Langford over at left end who is solid against the run and this change of defensive strategy wouldn't change his job much but may also create more opportunities for him.

Now on to linebackers, as mentioned earlier Karlos Dansby could be more of a play-maker at the strong side linebacker position in the 4-3. He had more INT's and sacks in the 4-3 in Arizona before they switched to the 3-4. Channing Crowder could play middle linebacker where he is a solid tackler and would benefit from having Odrick and Starks in the middle and the addition of Dansby. Now that we have Edds we won't have to worry about Crowder covering tight ends which is his main weakness. At weak side linebacker I would like to see Misi win the job, but he'll have to prove he can play there. this would be the one question that would not be answered with the switch, but it wouldn't be answered in the 3-4 either because his natural position is DE. It should be a smooth transition to linebacker for Koa and he is too small to play DE anyways. Now we wouldn't have to worry about him playing strong side in the 3-4 and he would also benefit from the defensive linebackers and he has great size for an OLB in a 4-3 (6' 3" 245). 

The secondary would not be affected too much with this switch except it would make their job easier with more pressure being put on the QB, therefore more INT opportunities for the secondary. That's why I really hope we can find a true ball-hawking free safety. If Culver, Clemons or Jones come out and prove they can do the job then great; but i just don't really see that happening. There are still options, maybe we make a run at Otogwe after June 1st or make a trade for a proven safety. I feel like the trifecta has something up their sleeve though considering they made a run at both Antrelle Rolle and Ryan Clark, before they signed with the Giants and Steelers, respectively. We also showed a lot of interest in Earl Thomas before the draft, it was just more important for us to get that second rounder back, which is understandable considering how many needs we had before the draft. They know how important the free safety position is especially with how it is turning into more of a passing league, and one of the main reasons we lost games last year is because of how bad Gibril Wilson was at free safety. He gave up big play after big play and it killed us in the end. Just look at the two Super Bowl teams this year who they had at the position, Darren Sharper and Antoine Bethea two of the elite free safeties in the NFL and both played critical roles in their teams Super Bowl runs. I feel like if the Dolphins make this switch to a 4-3 "hybrid" defense and pick up a ball hawking free safety we could make a Super Bowl run of our own, especially now that we have Brandon Marshall. Tell me what you think....