It has been well documented how important Brandon Marshall is to the Miami Dolphins. Marshall is the big physical receiver that Miami hasn't had since-well ever.
Consider the following quote by Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers about the former Denver Broncos wide receiver, known as "The Beast".
"Brandon Marshall is a defensive lineman playing wide receiver," Flowers said. "He wants to inflict punishment on you. He wants you to try to tackle him so he can shove you off of him and get more yards."[
Marshall's ability to beat press coverage, produce big plays, draw double teams, and provide a redzone target is unquestionnable.
For a developing quarterback like Chad Henne, having a go to receiver will serve as a big confidence boost and produce more successful results on the field.
Yet, despite all that Marshall brings to the Miami Dolphins, he is arguably not the most imporant addition to the roster during the 2010 offseason.
That destinction quite possibly belongs to new starting middle linebacker Karlos Montez Dansby.
What? A player who has never made the Pro Bowl and seems to be already forgotten by some fans is actually more important than a two-time Pro Bowler that has three straight seasons of 100-plus catches?
Yes, and here are five reasons why.
In addition to being weaker, Miami is clearly less experienced at the linebacker position than at wide receiver. Rookie Koa Misi is the favorite to start at one of the outside linebacker positions. The other bookend is supposed to be second-year player and, at this point, one-dimensional pass rusher Cameron Wake.
Both players have plenty of ability but to call either player a consistent bet would be a fool's proposition.
Dansby is the mark of consistency. He is going to get you 90-100 tackles a year. He'll probably get you five sacks, maybe more in new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's defense. He'll cover the opposition's tightend and not let a player let the Colts' Dallas Clark run unchecked down the seam-yes the pain from this still lingers from last season.
Veterans Akin Ayodele and Reggie Torbor were let go and weren't very good to begin with. Charlie Anderson is still an option at outside linebacker but not a thrilling one.
Well, doesn't Miami have another consistent veteran in the middle to pair with Dansby? Oh, what's his name? We'll get to that in a second.
At wide receiver, you might not have a "star" outside of Marshall, but Bess provides a consistent threat. Last season, Bess hauled in 76 passes from the slot position and 54 receptions in 2008.
Despite, suffering an ACL tear in the 2008 season and going through a lengthy recovery, Greg Camarillo has also managed to catch 50 or more passes in the last two seasons. As a rookie in 2009, emerging wide out Brian Hartline caught just 31 balls but averaged 16.3 yards per catch.
Certainly, without Marshall, Miami's air corps isn't a juggernaut, but its not bereft of consistent productivity.
Yes, of course that player that I couldn't quite remember-tongue firmly planted in cheek-is Channing Crowder.
Except that Crowder is anything but a consistent middle linebacker anymore. The Florida product only racked up 52 tackles last season and is coming off of a LisFranc foot injury. By contrast, Dansby had 109 stops in 2009.
Crowder's participation in mini-camp was spotty at best and their have been significant whispers that he could be expendable with a draft day trade that brought in San Diego Charger reserve Tim Dobbins.
Even if Crowder plays, he appears adverse to making big plays on the field. Consider these comparisons between Dansby and Crowder. Crowder has one career interception. Dansby has 10. More damning is that Crowder has 2.5 career sacks and Dansby has 25.5.
His penchant for being outspoken would appear to grate on the collective nerves of the front office. Yet, they would probably tolerate it if his production on the field would match his mouth.
Miami just gave Dobbins a two-year contract extension even though he has never played a down for the Dolphins. Consider the message made by that move to be clearly sent.
Brandon Marshall has yet to be in an NFL postseason game. Now, he has only been in the league for four years, and plenty of great young players (i.e. Andre Johnson) haven't been to the playoffs yet.
But ask professional players if there is a substitute for experience in the postseason and the answer you will most likely get is "No".
Dansby has played in five postseason games, including a Super Bowl and has done quite well.
Most notably, if you forget, in a first-round playoff game against the Green Bay Packers on January 10, 2010, Dansby recovered a fumble in overtime by Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and returned it 17 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
There is no one else on the Dolphins roster that boasts the post-season pedigree of Dansby.
On defense, Miami must replace departed leaders Jason Taylor and Joey Porter.
In truth, Miami needed new leaders regardless. Porter's "me first" attitude clearly wasn't beneficial to the squad and earned him a benching last season at a time when the Dolphins desperately needed his pass rushing skills, however diminished they might be.
Taylor, for all of his accolades and production, has clearly lost a step or three.
He is a situational player that can't provide the three-down support that Dansby will be counted on to provide.
Furthermore, it shouldn't go unnoticed, that in the one year Taylor was away in Washington, Miami did make the playoffs. It might be coincidence, but it might have also signaled a need for a new voice in the locker room.
Dansby isn't known as a super-vocal leader, but he'll lead by example, which will be a change from what Miami has had in year's past.
On offense, there are plenty of existing leaders in Ronnie Brown, Rickie Williams (did I just type that?) and most importantly an emerging one in Chad Henne.
Miami doesn't need Brandon Marshall to lead; they just need him to produce big plays.
Don't be mistaken. Brandon Marshall or not, Miami is not going to turn into the "Greatest Show on Surf" or "The Air Marshall Attack" -can I patent these terms for later use?. Offensive coordinator Dan Henning and head coach Tony Sparano still favor a physical, run-first attack.
Furthermore, with the return of a healthy Ronnie Brown, the Dolphins have four or five running backs on the roster with significant talent.
Brown maybe not be a convential star running back, but he is the master of running the Wildcat and capable of churning out big chunks of yards. Ricky Williams showed that he still has a burst, especially to the outside.
Dolphins fans proably didn't fully realize the big-play of Patrick Cobbs until he was lost during last season with a knee injury. Lex Hilliard flashed power and decent speed in limited opportunities. All fullback Lousaka Polite does is convert every short-yardage opportunity he is given.
Most importantly, it will take more than one player to flip-flop an attack that ranked fourth in the NFL in rushing with 139.4 yards per game and 20th in passing with just 198.1 yards per game.
The Dolphins maintain an almost even 50/50 run to pass ratio because they believe its their recipe to success.
Let's be clear. I think Brandon Marshall will be a highly successful Miami Dolphin. If Karlos Dansby turns out to be an even bigger addition, that likely means the Miami Dolphins will be a force to be reckoned with in 2010.