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Dolphins defense trying to change ... but not to 3-4

Last season, as the Dolphins declined in multiple defensive categories from the season before -- run defense, third-down defense, pass completion percentage, first downs allowed, yards allowed, and the the big one, points allowed -- there was the suggestion in cyberspace that perhaps the defense would be better off as a 3-4 defense rather than a 4-3 defense.

I know the idea was out there because, well, I helped create it. It just seemed to me the Dolphins defense that was pretty good in 2011 as a 3-4 unit was less effective in 2012 as a 4-3 unit and then was worse again in 2013 in multiple categories in that same 4-3.

Well, forget that switch to the 3-4.

It is not happening.

The Dolphins are indeed doubling down on the idea of running the 4-3 and this brief free agency period has already shown the team's intent. When the club had linebacker D'Qwell Jackson in for a visit weeks ago, coaches told him they saw him as a middle linebacker fit in their 4-3.

When the club first contacted and talked with defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, they told him that though he'd played in the 3-4 in Houston, they saw him as a 4-3 defensive tackle. Indeed, that was  a selling point for Mitchell.

"I definitely wanted to be a part of a 4-3 team," Mitchell said, "so I’m definitely ... I’m excited and I really appreciate getting involved with this organization for giving me an opportunity."

Mitchell sees the chance to play in the 4-3 as an opportunity because he likes it more. He believes he's better suited for it. And, by the way, he won't have centers and guards diving at his knees from multiple angles like they do to 3-4 nose tackles.

"I think it will definitely give me an opportunity to showcase my skill and just, it will definitely be a time where I can definitely just be able to make more plays and be part of a, just getting after the quarterback," said Mitchell, who played in the 4-3 in college.

So that's that.

The Dolphins are and will remain a base 4-3. That doesn't mean they don't plan some changes.

Obviously, the Jackson flirtation made it clear the team wants to move Dannell Ellerbe, signed last year to replace Karlos Dansby in the middle, to outside linebacker. The team has also told linebacker Koa Misi he might be moving him to the middle unless the draft or the remainder of free agency yields a middle linebacker type, a fact also reported recently by The Herald's Barry Jackson.

What does this front seven shuffling say?

Well, obviously the Dolphins are looking for upgrade. But in toying with the idea of upgrade, the consideration to change the scheme has been discarded.

Yet ... and I'm just talking to myself here ... I'm convinced Jared Odrick and Randy Starks playing the five-technique would be excellent, and indeed Starks went to a Pro Bowl playing that spot and Odrick was drafted in the first round specifically for that spot.

I believe Mitchell is a good nose, although the loss of Paul Soliai to play that spot stings and crimps my potential 3-4 lineup.

The linebackers?

Cameron Wake, Dion Jordan and Olivier Vernon outside in some sort of rotation. Ellerbe, Phillip Wheeler and Misi inside in some sort of rotation.


Your revamped 3-4 front.

By the way, when the Dolphins brought Ellerbe over from Baltimore last year, they took him away from the more familiar 3-4. Jordan looks like a prototype 3-4 linebacker much more than he seems suited to play 4-3 DE.

Cameron Wake, obvioulsy, is a wash because he's been effective in both schemes. I've had multiple personnel people tell me Vernon, smallish as a 4-3 end, would be well suited as a 3-4 OLB.

OK, end of sermon.

The point is the Dolphins defense that needs to stop the slide in mutliple areas from the past couple of years since the scheme change is looking to make some adjustments. A change back to the 3-4 isn't one of them.


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The poor play against the run has been a big disappointment this past year. While a move back to the 3-4 could help, losing Soliai hurts

Well Starks and Odrick are actually proto type 3 tech's....there's a reason why both ranked top 10 out of all DTs last year. It's pretty obvious Mitchell is a 4-3 DT doesn't really have the size to play NT long term. So 4-3 actually makes complete sense. Also Wake is much better as a end than a 3-4 OLB. What we actually need to do go 4-3 straight up more wayyy too many stunts and lining up as a 3-4 which caused us to get gassed by the run coz our LBs aren't really good enough for that.
CJ Mosley should be the pick at 19 and then the front 7 and the D is sorted. And could be top 5 D.

Dion Jordan would benefit.

I wanted Jordan to play olb but philbin didnt agree .now I see why. Im out of a job and philbin is running the show.

You move to a 3-4 and it hurts Mitchell Starks Odrick and C Wake. That's why it won't be done.

The problem last year was the linebackers were not very good and there were too many Dt stunts as was already mentioned. This falls on Coyle he seems like a bright guy but the defense has declined as you mentioned, although I believe the Dolphins still finished in the top ten in points given up.

Changes need to be made, if you can't cut Wheeler then he should be replaced by someone.Ireland made some big Gaffs just before being shown the door and the LB's were at the top of the list.

Great, thanks for blogging about something that wont happen. Furthermore, Missi to ILB has been reported now for two years in a row; WILL NOT HAPPEN. I seriously question your journalistic competence with this ridiculously uninformative blog.

I had no choice ross wanted playoffs or fired.

Why did miami sign Finegan. Well folks losers again. Shame with all that money unspent. Cakewalk for Pats again. Get used to it. Ross. Wake up and stop counting your money. Hickey. You suck. Tampa fired you. And last. Thank god it's philbins last year. Buy Fuckin players!! Spend!

As long as the owner is Steven Ross, this team will continue to be the cripple that it is. He is the laughing stock of NFL owners. Why would any decent free agent want to play for Dolphins? We have no respectable front office and coaches. Been a Dolphins fan for too many years and this team cannot succeed UNTIL this owner is out. No credibility on any level so the sloppy seconds is what we will be putting on the field, no disrespect, just what we are...

Amanda, did you know Dawn Aponte wore floral colors yesterday AND IT ISN'T EVEN SPRING YET.


No wonder this team locks out the media.

The reason for the decline last year was Kevin Coyle....shoulda been canned


Yes the defense should be upgraded and revamped. However the real issue is controlling the ball in the offense oriented NFL. The Dolphins do not have an OL option in free agency anymore so if they want a RB then they should go after one in FA. Then get an OT 1st round OG 2nd round and a LB in the 3rd. If they are unable to get a RB in free agency then pick one up in the 3rd or 4th round. In order to get starters for the much needed OL position they have to go after two in the early rounds or forget about finding a starter.

it was up to Daytona he would have the blog all to himself 24/7. Him and his 10001 Names.

That is the Truth Truth.

Posted by: Dashi | March 18, 2014 at 09:50 PM

Um...who was the one busted by Armando just a week back about using multiple names after you denied it?

Yes, tell the truth or others will tell it for you.

Posted by: Mop | March 18, 2014 at 09:54 PM



I've missed a lot (not).....

Good for Armando.....now he needs to make it so NO person can change sign-in names @ will....blog would improve 1000 PERCENT....

Get rid of the blog idiots who change names...then agree with themselves because they do not have the self-esteem to let their statements stand on their own....even tho their schtick is to always accuse others of the same deficiencies they themselves suffer from...I believe in the medical community they call that PROJECTING....

Any way...Good Job Armando.....

Keep calling them out....and get a system that prevents it...

Posted by: Kris (in Germany) | March 19, 2014 at 03:11 AM

It was the coaching that allowed all of that running last year. They did not properly scout teams, like New England before each game and the players were not prepared. They did not put players in position to win. Very little in the way of game day tactics and adjustments. Poor on offense and poor on defense. The players did play hard but I don't think the coaching staff had a clue.
Hopefully we can turn it around. I don't care who you bring in to play if the coaches line the guy up 3 yards out of position in this league, the speed and ability of the opposition is going to beat you every time.

Miami runs 3-4 as well as 4-3 in normal course of operation. However, the team favors the 4-3 because of its scheme advantages for putting pressure on the QB.

Earl Mitchell should be a fine fit to replace the aging Paul Soliai along the front. He is strong, speedy and plays with a good motor. He will give a good push on the pocket that Soliai, who played less than half of the snaps available, never did.

Retooling of the LBs is a good way to go. The defense is a leader-type, strong middle LB away from being very good.

.500 at best.

I'm tired of hearing about what a great defensive mind Kevin Coyle is. He's been here 2 years and the defense has regressed each season. We have 11 defensive players on the roster who are either 1st round draft picks or high dollar free agent signings. I assume that Coyle had some input into bringing in (or keeping) most of these players. If we aren't a top 10 (should be top 5) defense this year, then Coyle needs to be replaced.

Just saw some Khalil mack youtube highlights, the guy reminds me alot of a Lawrence Taylor.

However the real issue is controlling the ball in the offense oriented NFL.

Posted by: promichael | March 19, 2014 at 06:51 AM

promichelle, wrong again. Did you see the SB? Best defense destroyed the best offense.

Try to learn something outside your tiny box head.

Posted by: Kris (in Germany) | March 19, 2014 at 06:54 AM

Yes. And I didn't see any rebuttal from the dashe boy. He knew he was busted and just tried to avoid it with his usual juvenile name calling.

It's obvious they know where the deficiencies were last year. Mainly the o-line and the run D and the RCB position.

It's good they know where there problems are and are trying to fix them. Rather they are showing enough sense of urgency remains to be seen.

The onus is on them. Rather you like Ross or not I'm pretty confident someone will lose their job with another poor season.

Off to school now,

You really can not be that dumb! Try reading again.
forget going to school you are to dumb to learn.

Losing Soliai was MORONIC!

Coyle is the best coach we have. And the D is the least of our problems.

Grimes gave credit to Coyle as one of the reasons he signed long term with the Fins.

Mando says,

"I know the idea was out there because, well, I helped create it."

See Mando is like God
Although God is more modest

Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/dolphins_in_depth/2014/03/dolphins-defense-trying-to-change-but-not-to-3-4.html#storylink=cpy

Mando says,

"Yet ... and I'm just talking to myself here .."

. . . . . So Home is not the only one

Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/dolphins_in_depth/2014/03/dolphins-defense-trying-to-change-but-not-to-3-4.html#storylink=cpy



When Philbin is fired Coyle will be a top candidate to replace him.

when this regime first got here these questions were asked and they said all kinds of fluffy things like "well, we're gonna play a hybrid,..." which was bogus. We were an excellent 3-4 D, they changed it to a 4-3 and we havent been as good since.

Makes sense,

We do have some good LBs, not great like Dansby last year or 2013 NFL MVP Defense MLB Luke Kuechly
Butt we do have a bunch of slow reading dim witted Gangsta LBs that are usually late to the tackling party


Koa Misi in the middle, finally someone is thinking a little. Koa Misi has the size to get off blockers and make the play and he's descent in coverage. This is the move I've wanted for sometime. The Dolphins have really screwed up the linebacker position. Too much complaining about Dansby's big contract when he was a Dolphin and him not being a "Philbin guy"...like Reggie bush and anyone else except for Incognito, who wasn't afraid to speak up..

Always wondered why this fan base dispised guys like Ginn, Porter, Dansby, and Marshall but never once had issue with Incognito who's past was more decorated then anyone. He was never considered to be selfish, arrogant a diva, but rather tough, nasty, got moxy. When these guys made plays it was always over shadowed by the plays they didn't make...when Incognito missed plays it was always over shadowed by the play he did make..smh. Still a long way to go in this country.

The Dolphins did what they thought was best Like they have been doing for over forty years of ultimate failure

Prob now is because the Dolphins reached @ #8 and drafted the WR and somewhat inexperienced QB, the Dolfans believe they got a “Top 10 QB”

Well folks he failed at so many levels after 32 starts and a plethora of negative records for a franchise and NFL QB

Clearly MVP of the 2013 NFL Defense was the right pick, not reaching for a QB that had 32 incompletions against Texas and had a major problem closing games and throwing INTs in groups of three

No Doubt after Tannehill left Texas A&M and Johnny Football took over, the program became much better

The F.B.I. would call that a clue that Tannehill is not a franchise QB and should not be starting in the NFL

6-36 to Wallace deep & worst deep ball of all starters and, . . . most of the back up QBs too

Seriously ?

R U Kidding ?

Butt we do have a bunch of slow reading dim witted Gangsta LBs that are usually late to the tackling party



Seems to me that a 5-2, used occasionally, would be great to put the pressure on Brady when we play him.



The hybrid thing started with Parcells and Sparano when they drafted Odrick.

There is nothing a franchise QB can't fix for the Dolphins.

What is there to prevent a Team to switch from a 3-4 to a 5-2, randomly, if they so desired?

only if the d
scored 20 pts.
against the buffalo o
and only if the d scored 14 pts
against the jets o
the phinz would have
won the last 2 and made
the post season.
it's the d's fault

Actually, this thing started with Don Shula, who would line up LB Bob Matheson outside the LDE in a 4-3.

Defense wins championships!

Miami has definitely attempted to right thier wrongs on D by adding some physical players on D.

Louis Delmas - He's a very physical, hard hitter which is probably why he's often injured with that style of play. Delmas is very good around the LOS.

Earl Mitchell - Hard to argue that he might not have Big Paul's physical prescense he did however LEAD the NFL in tackles by an interior DLinemen which shows he's a hard nosed, hussle player in his own right.

Cortland Finnegan - This was actually a good gamble IMO. Finnegan is the cliche feisty, little guy but in his case it's true. He definitely brings a lot of physicality to the position and goes hard. Can he still cover? There's your gamble.

MLB - It's the weakest spot on the Defense by far IMO. Misi? I like the idea. He is a physical, tough, hussle player. Can he hold up without being exposed in some facet for 16 games? I don't know. But Ellerbe has no business in a 43 playing MLB. No instincts, not physical at all, won't fill a hole. He's a better sideline to sideline wrap and drag tackler. He needs to be playing WLB. Wheeler? Special teamer if the staff knew what was good for them. He's not a starting caliber LB, period.

All NFL analysts agree
that Tannehill's replacement Johnny Football will def have more than 3 WR TDs after 16 starts like Tannehill

Unlike Tannehill
Johnny Football will not be making excuses on the O-line sucking and all the WRs sucking

Tannehill needs to fess up and realize he cannot throw even remotely accurate deep nor does he have good pocket presence nor the instincts to step u, slide, feel the pressure coming or the knack to throw the ball away

^ to step UP ^

It's hustle not hussle? right? lol. Tired this morning.

Does this Mitchell guy really talk like that, a typical Dolphin and NFL player, can't even rub two sentences together. This tard can't even complete one sentence

Agree w Andy from NJ

Misi is an underrated LB and can hit w
10,000 lbs of Gut Wrenching Knuckle Busting Power!

2 watt,

It's definitely not all on the D but the D cost Miami Carolina and Tampa Bay and that can't be argued. Miami's D was supposed to be and expected to be the strenth of the team. I expected top 10 and they were so far from it. Sure they were top 10 in scoring D and points is what matters but 3rd down D and rushing D is just as important to closing games and this team ranked bottom half in both of those categories.


All great D's in the modern history of the NFL have been 4-3s, and those who weren't, have gotten by with the play of a great O unit.

So it isn't what you or the fans want. IT IS WHAT COYLE WANTS TO RUN!! AND COYLE WANTS TO RUN A 4-3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


NOW, I, DASHI, Thought Coyle was going to run multiple fronts.But after drafting D.Jordan #3 and only playing him at DE. I knew Coyle was strictly going 4-3.

I know some of you hate to hear it because it happens often. "I told you so".

Reel Dolphin,

Lol. I don't think Misi can hit like that. I think he can hit and fill a hole more then Ellerbe can. My lasting image of the 2013 Dolphins is Ellerbe missing that tackle on Geno Smith at the goal line. How he didn't rip Geno's head off is beyond me. It summed up his entire season in 1 play to me. He was a step late, 5 yards down field and just went through the motions of tackling while looking soft.

Posted by: Dannywsuarez | March 19, 2014 at 06:19 AM

I smell the jealous incompetent black guy that supposedly writes for the Sun Sentinel

Of course Belichick is not a D oriented HC.

One complete idiot w no history of ever playing the game of football "Tim Knight" a chronic out of touch NJ Dolphin blogger actually thinks Tannehill is like Joe Montana


can say jaded blind kool aid drinking homer?


You should be worrying about your Panthers as well. QB with a bum ankle and 0 WR's.


You are an Idiot.

Don't for once think we don't know you joined the Troll Brigade.


The Idiot came in here the other day and impersonated Salguero. Now he is hoping if he repeats it enough that others will believe him like all the other lies he throws.



only if the d
scored 20 pts.
against the buffalo o
and only if the d scored 14 pts
against the jets o
the phinz would have
won the last 2 and made
the post season.
it's the d's fault

Posted by: 2 watt | March 19, 2014 at 09:06 AM


I would of been happy if Miami O had one drive without a sack. By "one drive" I mean their usual 3 and out

Dolfan Rick

U r right
Panthers having terrible FAs and CAP issues

does not look good

Denver & New England look good

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