I've been saying for two years now how badly the Dolphins need to upgrade at wide receiver. But knowing the folks that make the decisions about personnel in Miami, I've also been telling you the position that more likely will take priority this offseason in being addressed first is not wide receiver.
It likely will be the linebacker spot instead.
And rightly so, from what we're seeing lately.
The Dolphins linebacker corps is a nightmare right now.
Channing Crowder left Sunday's game -- as in bounced and was nowhere to be found afterward. He went home and is out for the season finale against Pittsburgh because of a foot injury, according to a source. The club is concerned he has a midfoot sprain or fracture that could mean a lisfranc, which is serious business. More will be known today.
[Update: Crowder is on crutches and wearning a boot today.]
That means Miami's linebacker corps against Pittsburgh will be Akin Ayodele and Reggie Torbor at inside linebacker and Joey Porter and Jason Taylor at OLB with Charlie Anderson and Quentin Moses as backup OLBs. Rookie J.D. Folsom, on the practice squad, may be added to the regular roster.
Ayodele has not had what I would call a good season. He is third on the team in tackles, but he's an ILB for goodness sake. He and Crowder should be leading the team in tackles. But alas, Crowder is often injured and both he and Ayodele over-run plays, or miss tackles or shoot the wrong gaps to the ballcarriers.
That's why Miami's leading tacklers are both safeties.
(Note to Dolphins: When your safeties are the leading tacklers, you have issues at ILB.)
The troubling thing is the Dolphins may be looking to upgrade at ILB this offseason after upgrading at ILB the past two seasons. Remember it was this administration that traded for Ayodele. It was this administration that signed Torbor as a free agent. It was this administration that re-signed Crowder to a new contract last offseason.
So if these guys aren't working out -- and they are not -- that is on this administration.
The Dolphins also have issues at OLB. Let's face it, Joey Porter, 33. shows up once every two or three games nowadays. He's not effective against the run and only gets to the quarterback when he's blocked by a tight end or running back. Put a tackle in front of him and he's stopped in his tracks.
The explosive first step Porter used to have is gone, be it because of his knee injuries or age.
Jason Taylor? He plays hard, but he's out of position. He is, at age 35, a part-time pass-rusher. He could be a latter day Trace Armstrong with 14 sacks as a specialist. But Miami's lack of talent at OLB pressed him into a starting role.
And so Taylor is doing grunt work on running downs when he should be chasing QBs on passing downs. That grunt work has Taylor playing with one shoulder the past three weeks or so. It has him getting close to but not quite to the QB. That half-second that has been sapped from Taylor because of an entire season's worth of collisions at the line of scrimmage is costing him sacks or strips of the ball.
And this just in: Taylor will not be getting younger next year.
So you want a big concern as the Dolphins transition after the regular-season finale to offseason mode?
Think of the linebacker position.
It was plain to see Sunday in the loss to Houston. It is a dire need.