Dolphins Defense: Stoppers or Floppers?

Brandon KirschContributor IAugust 19, 2010

MIAMI - OCTOBER 26:  Wide receiver Josh Reed #82 of the Buffalo Bills is brought down by Yeremiah Bell #37, Renaldo Hill #24 and Charlie Anderson #56 of the Miami Dolphins at Dolphin Stadium on October 26, 2008 in Miami, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Bills 25-16.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Linebackers :

Karlos Dansby - Dansby is a newcomer to the Miami Dolphins having been brought here from Arizona through free agency. He is now the top paid LB in the NFL receiving a 5 year $43 million dollar contract with $22 million guaranteed. He led the Cardinals two years in a row with 119 tackles in 2008 and 109 in 2009. Not only is he a tackle machine, but he also is great in falling back into coverage and covering a TE or RB. He has 10 career interceptions; two of which he has taken to the house. Dansby will be the leader of our defense at the middle linebacker spot; relaying plays to the rest of the defensive unit for a long time.

My predicted stats for Karlos Dansby : 97 Tackles - 6.5 Sacks - 2 Forced Fumbles - 1 INT

Channing Crowder - Our other starting inside linebacker is the trash talker of the team Channing Crowder. I wouldn't mine all of his antics and dissing if he could back it up, but the truth is he can't. In 2008 he started 13 games amassing 92 tackles, 0 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 0 INT and 6 passes defended. Unfortunately he couldn't match that in 2009; he only had 44 tackles, 1 sack, 0 forced fumbles, 1 INT, and 3 passes defended in an equal amount of starts. Crowder will no doubt benefit from Dansby's arrival, but I still believe he will be mediocre at best.

My predicted stats for Channing Crowder : 47 Tackles - 1.0 Sacks - 1 FF - 1 INT

Koa Misi - In the 2010 NFL draft we used our second round pick on OLB Koa Misi (40th Overall). Misi was a very versatile player in his three years at Utah starting 36 of 38 games at defensive end and defensive tackle. He is a gifted athlete for his size and is very good at running players down, unfortunately he lacks a powerful first step that is required as a pass rusher. Misi is going to be our starting strong side outside linebacker and be used to fill the pass rushing hole the departure of Joey Porter left. I think he will be an average option at OLB and perhaps with some teaching a solid pass rusher in the NFL.

My predicted stats for Koa Misi : 39 Tackles - 3.5 Sacks - 0 FF - 0 INT

Cameron Wake - This is Cameron Wake's year to shine, a lot is depending on his ability to get to the Quarterback. He'll be starting at weak side outside linebacker and he is going to have be the player that penetrates through the Offensive Line and sacks the QB. Wake may only be in his second year, but he had been playing in the Canadian Football League (CFL) for two seasons. While in the CFL he earned the Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year award in both seasons recording 39 total sacks. He signed with the Fins last year and produced well in 14 games played. Wake had 23 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, and 1 FF. For not having one start last season he still produced good numbers, I'm eager to see what he is going to do now as a starter. I see Wake as a solid option at OLB.

My predicted stats for Cameron Wake : 47 Tackles - 9.0 Sacks - 1 FF- 0 INT

Cornerbacks :

Vontae Davis - One of the fondest memories I have is when I got Vontae Davis's autograph last year at training camp. In order to get noticed I yelled out "Hey Vontae! I play as Illinois all the time in NCAA Football! You are awesome in that game!" Davis proceeded to take my football signed it and said "Man, you gotta upgrade I'm in Madden now!" He autographed my ball and I knew he was destined for greatness. Okay honestly, I had no idea how he would produce, but I did feel good about his game from watching him practice. Davis did end up playing very well for a rookie CB, he led the team with 4 INT and had 53 tackles in only 9 starts. He has shown why the Dolphins took him in the 1st round (drafted 25th overall), but as a cornerback in the AFC East he must improve. Our division has some of the best wide receivers in football (Moss,Edwards/Holmes/Cotchery). In order for our team to win we have to have a great secondary and it starts with Vontae Davis.

My predicted stats for Vontae Davis : 62 Tackles - 1.0 Sack - 0 FF - 6 INT

Sean Smith - Sean Smith is our other starting CB opposite Vontae Davis. He was taken in the second round in the 2009 draft (61st overall). Unfortunately he failed to live up to his second round label last season having only 38 Tackles and 0 INT's as a full time starter. Smith is an ex-WR, so at 6'3 he will be able to win most jump balls and his INT's are guaranteed to improve in his second year. I'm a little suspicious of his tackling, but with another season under his belt he knows what he's facing. In the upcoming season I think that the combination of Davis and Smith will be one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL.

My predicted stats for Sean Smith : 54 Tackles - 0 Sacks - 0 FF - 3 INT

Safeties :

Yeremiah Bell - The mainstay at strong safety has been Yeremiah Bell. Bell is the oldest starter on the team going into his 7th season out of Kentucky (all with Miami). He has been consistent in the last two seasons having 120 total tackles and 1 sack in 2008 and 114 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 2009. His tackles may have slightly dipped but he picked off 3 passes last season (0 INT year before) and was selected to his first Pro Bowl. Bell is a great mentor and leader on our defense and since he is a veteran he means even more to this team than what his stats show. I expect another Pro Bowl season from Bell and I believe he will remain a top safety in this league for 1-2 more years.

My predicted stats for Yeremiah Bell : 113 Tackles - 1.0 Sacks - 2 FF - 1 INT

Chris Clemons - Clemons as of August 18th is going to be our starting free safety over players like Tyron Culver and Reshad Jones. We drafted Clemons last year out of Clemson in the 5th round (165th overall). He saw little playing time last season and was mostly used as a special teams player. In 2 starts last season he had 13 total tackles and he seemed to have a good connection with Yeremiah Bell. Clemons is a fast safety that will be able to cover one sideline well, hopefully he can learn to think coverage first, INT second. Clemons is an improvement, but then again anyone is better than Gibril Wilson.

My predicted stats for Chris Clemons : 48 Tackles - 0 Sacks - 0 FF - 2 INT

Defensive Line :

Jared Odrick - We drafted Jared Odrick out of Penn State with the 28th overall pick as a defense tackle, but he won a starting spot on the team at defensive end. I'm excited to see how Odrick is going to preform. At 6-5 and 304 pounds I think he's going to be a great run stopper as well as a fast pass rusher. He is freakishly quick and has an unbelievable burst off the line which will aid him greatly in his pursuit of the ball. A player of his size should be a defensive tackle, but in the 3-4 the bigger the better on the defensive line so I like the move. I think Odrick will be a great defensive lineman in 2-3 years and a long time Miami Dolphin.

My predicted stats for Jared Odrick : 51 Tackles - 4.5 Sacks - 0 FF - 0 INT

Randy Starks - Our entire team, let alone the defense is depending on Starks to handle the switch from defensive end to defensive tackle. In a 3-4 you need a big; massive defensive tackle in the middle to eat up space and we need Starks to carry that load. Last season at DE he started all 16 games and was very effective there amassing 7 sacks and 42 total tackles. He is 6-3 305 pounds yet he has a very quick first step that allows him to drill into the offensive lineman and get to the QB. I'm expecting big things from Starks this season and for seasons to come.

My predicted stats for Randy Starks : 36 Tackles - 3.0 Sacks - 1 FF - 0 INT

Kendall Langford - The Dolphins drafted Langford in the 3rd round in the 2008 NFL Draft (66th Overall) out of Hampton. Langford is our other starting DE; he has experience as a starter in both of his NFL seasons (26 starts in two seasons). Each of the last two seasons he has improved going from 31 total tackles in 2008 to 43 in 2009 and 2.0 sacks to 2.5. This year is Langford's year to elevate his game to an elite status. Langford's rise to stardom depends on Starks and his ability to attract as many offensive lineman as he can. I think he is going to once again improve in all statistical categories and surpass expectations. I think Langford is going to be a Pro Bowler next season and become one of the best DE in the NFL.

My predicted stats for Kendall Langford : 49 Tackles - 7.5 Sacks - 1 FF - 1 INT