Cameron Wake is having a Pro Bowl caliber year. I have an Associated Press All-Pro vote and I am very likely going to put Wake on my ballot. That's what 9.5 sacks in 10 games will do for you.
What it also does is cause opponents to take notice.
Suddenly, Wake isn't getting one-on-one matchups any more. Suddenly, all the slide protections are to his side. Suddenly, other teams are game-planning to stop Cameron Wake.
And that's where things can get easy or much more difficult for the team's other pass-rushing linebacker. When everyone pays attention to the weakside linebacker, you see, that makes it time for the strongside linebacker to step up his game and pick up the production slack.
If Wake is getting doubled or the slide protection is going toward the weak side, then the strongside guy should benefit and make up some of the difference.
It's good news for the Sam linebacker if he responds. It's bad news if he does not.
"Now the Sam linebacker although should be productive (you know) that guy is not really in the rush as much as Cameron (Wake) is,” coach Tony Sparano said.
True, Koa Misi doesn't get as many at-bats at the QB as Wake because the Will linebacker gets more rush opportunities than the Sam linebacker. But the Sam does get rush opportunities. No doubt about that. And the Dolphins need that player to produce.
My worry is that Misi isn't producing all that much lately.
Misi has 3.5 sacks this season. That's not my concern. My concern is he hasn't had a sack or even a portion of a sack since Oct. 24, which means it's been a month since Misi got to the quarterback.
The Dolphins have obviously noticed the drought because more and more they've used Quentin Moses in rush situations replacing Misi. And they've tried other means of creating pressure on the quarterback, which is the reason safeties Reshad Jones and Yeremiah Bell have more sacks in the past month than Misi.
The Dolphins are creating pass rush with blitzes because they obviously feel the need to do so. Misi isn't getting it done on his own.
That's a problem because if teams recognize they can solve Miami's pass-rush by sliding protections to Wake or doubling him and the guy on the other side doesn't make them pay, it makes the offensive coordinator's job easier. Misi must turn the strategy to his advantage. He hasn't been doing that lately.
Perhaps he has hit the rookie wall. Perhaps he's run into a ton of good tackles (they get paid, too). But 0-for-the past month?
But this is an issue the Dolphins clearly cannot be happy about.