« Hester or not, Dolphins can use return competition | Main | Winston is NFLPA president but not a Dolphins option »

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.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Painful that I have to do this but a man must defend his position!

For starters, not sure if you could read, but I said show me the list of players selected SOLEY under Ireland’s tenure that have been a success. Parcells was shopping for the groceries for players that appear on your list, so don’t count players that might not be in Miami if Parcells wasn’t in charge at the time, something that not even you can argue. Cheater! Let me remind you when Ireland took over again in case you forgot. On September 7, 2010, Ireland assumed full command of operations on a day to day basis. Bill Parcells became a daily consultant for the Miami Dolphins. Now let’s revisit your list.

Players brought in by Ireland not Hickey
Tannehill***** (really a 5*?? Show me! This is Tanny's make or break year- far from a 5* so far)
Moore- (good backup)
Devlin+ (who knows?)
L. Miller+**** (how about big fat ? -4* my arse!)
D.Thomas—(a joke that Ireland traded up for)
M.Thigpen (his return game regressed last year- that’s all he’s got)
M.Gillislee Sucks!!---(but you LOVED the pick- LOL)
C.Clay*** (fair grade-better if he can show up every game)
Sims (?) (yep)
Egnew (Sucks)
Wallace*** (overpaid for sure)
Hartline* (Parcells dummy, and he’s a lot better than a 1*)
Gibson* (? Cuz he’s always hurt but better than a 1* when he is healthy)
Matthews+ (fair grade)
Binns (c’mon, why even list him!)
S.Brenner+ (fair grade)
D.Thomas? (couldn’t sniff the field with horrible OL)
N.Garner (versatile player- guess what? Parcells!)
M.Pouncey**** (fair grade- thug but good player)
Odrick*** (fair grade- could get better)
Starks* (a 1*? What are you smokin’? He has been one of our most consistent players- too bad PARCELLS found him)
Wake**** (Parcells again.- this is getting old)
O.Vernon**** (best pick so far by Ireland)
D.Jordan?*****(5*?? How about incomplete and hopeful he will play more than 30% of the snaps? He better be a 5* soon cuz Ireland traded up for the dude!)
Shelby+ (potential)
Misi+ (average player-not a difference maker, don’t think he ever will be)
Wheeler---(overpaid potential bust)
Trusnik- (not bad- actually was ST guy that saw the field and not bad when called upon)
Spliter- (ST)
Ellerbe (? Again, he better step us his game quickly or FA bust)
Jenkins?+ (potential)
B.Grimes****(one of the few FA finds)
J.Taylor?*** (Forget the *** ?.... period)
W.Davis?***(same as Taylor)
M.Thomas (he was a pleasant surprise)
R.Jones** (from good to disaster last year)
J.Wilson+ (decent nickel- big deal)
D.Jones?+* (the other best Ireland pick- go figure, our punter!)
Sturgis?- (Carpenter outkicked him by a mile)
Almost 40 out of the 53 players on the team were selected by Ireland. About 75 % of the roster. About a Dozen Impact Players.
Dashi 5 - Star System
* - Very Good Player in my book
+ - Player with potential to be a good player
? - To Young to Tell
- - Sucks!!
I count at most 6 impact players and two are Parcells boys. Considered upper echelon are Vernon, Wake (Parcells), Starks (Parcells), Pouncey (?), Grimes and our Punter. I would include Clay on the list if he can be more consistent. Until last year he was a zero. Hartline is a good #2, would be a great #3, and was another Parcells player. The offense was devoid of top playmakers, and our Average PPG and record showed it. Let’s see how they do with an improved OL (hopefully).

The rest on your list, including Tanny, are still question marks, and many would not make a loaded NFL roster. Last year’s draft is as incomplete as ever, with no players seeing the field enough to make a difference. Jordan better rise quickly or he will be considered a #1 failure with the 3rd overall pick that Ireland traded up to get.

A fan with any knowledge of the Miami Dolphins would agree with about 25% of your grades. For example, you have Miller as a 4*, while Starks and Hartline are a 1*. Funny stuff! Thanks for proving what an ignorant fraud (in denial) that you really are!

Oh sorry... I forgot. No name calling. I'll play nice when you show me some respect

Guys bottom line this team is close, it's hard to believe that they were able to compete towards the end of the season with the amount of sacks they gave up. We want to blame it all on one side of the ball well lets really put things into perspective, the offense couldn't sustain drives because Tannehill was too busy running for his life, and the defense would tire because they were on the field way too much. Fix the O-Line and you fix the Phins. GO PHINS!

There is nothing wrong with the Dolphins a franchise QB wouldn't fix.


Get Mike Wallace a real QB!!

Coyle and Philbin must go. Bring back the 3/4. Jordon needs to be the centre-piece.

About the Super Bowl No Bid for Miami. Miami is not a safe place to visit. Law enforcement is barley on the job. Getting hustled on ever block for $20 drinks and a team of pick pockets standing outside every bar in town at closing time. And even though I can speak it,,, Spanish should not be the first language of South Florida. It's like going to another country and I was born there. I will be Surprised, even with a stadium upgrade if Miami gets more than 1 more Super Bowl in the next 10 years.

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

Why do you always overestimate your importance? That's why I have a lot of trouble reading your articles, which could otherwise be worthwhile, but I can't get past the ego trip that you take every time.

There is no "I" in Dave Hyde (he spells it with a Y). That is why he will always be a better Dolphins reporter than you.

« 1 2 3 4 5

The comments to this entry are closed.