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See why Dolphins want upgrade at MLB

Watch the video below.

It is a compilation of Alex Mack highlights from 2013. Mack, the center for the Cleveland Browns, truly is among the best at his position in the NFL. But that's not the reason the video is on here.

The reason comes around the :34 second mark.

In that play you see Trent Richardson taking the ball around his 48 yard line and gaining 11 yards to around the Dolphin 41 yard line.

In that play you see Mack getting to the second level and locking on to Dolphins middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. And you see Mack driving Ellerbe back ...

... and back.

... and back.

Richardson is tackled by Dolphins safety Chris Clemons. Meanwhile, a couple of more yards down the field, Ellerbe is still being blocked by Mack.

The Dolphins middle linebacker got locked up just beyond the line of scrimmage. He didn't get off the block, like, at all. And he got driven off the line of scrimmage some 15 or so yards by the time the running play ends.

And you wonder why the Dolphins run defense struggled in 2013?

And you wonder why the Dolphins are working with Koa Misi as the middle linebacker now and Ellerbe, signed to a five-year, $34.75 million contract last year, was a bust in his first year with Miami?

Yes, Ellerbe was second on the team with 101 tackles. But only three of his tackles were for a loss. Three tackles for losses is the same number Reshad Jones had in 2013.

And Jones plays safety, often 15 yards off the line of scrimmage. 

(Anyway, watch the video before I continue below. Remember, the play in question starts at the :34 second mark.)


The Dolphins hoped Ellerbe could be their new Zach Thomas or Bryan Cox (he played MLB for a year in Miami) or John Offerdahl. He had been a solid fill-in for Ray Lewis when Lewis was injured in Baltimore.

But the move simply did not translate in Miami.

And so what to do with a player who is making $6 million this year, is costing $7.425 million against the salary cap, and cannot be cut because the move would weigh the Dolphins down with $11.6 million in dead money.

So Ellerbe is headed outside, with Misi now the MLB.

Why Misi?

Well, the attempt to sign D'Qwell Jackson in free agency did not pan out. He went to the Colts. The idea of drafting Ryan Shazier did not pan out. He was drafted by the Steelers before the Dolphins could even make a decision on the clock. And Jordan Tripp, drafted in the fifth round, is not ready.

Sooo ...

Koa Misi, everyone.

"Since I’ve been here, one of the things that we’ve emphasized strongly have been fundamentals on defense whether it is block protection, pursuit, tackling, creating turnovers," coach Joe Philbin said Monday. "One of the things we’ve liked about him, that I’ve liked in particular, is when we do a year-end cut-up and we show examples how to take on a block, how to tackle properly, how to pursue the football. He shows up on a lot of those cut-ups.

"Football, as I like to tell the team, is not complicated. Defensively, we want to do those things. We want to see him do those things and we want to take a look at him from the interior, from the middle. We think he has great leadership qualities. We think his play has certainly exemplified that over the course of period of time that I’ve been here. He plays football the right way, so we are going to see how we adjust to that position and how he relates to the other players at his position and the defense in general. So far he’s done a nice job."

Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said he's not ready to commit to Misi as the starting MLB just yet. But, honestly, what choice does he presently have?

Brian Urlacher is not walking through that door. (Well, maybe he might in Dallas.)

So ... Misi.

“I’ve always been open to anything," Misi said, thus dismissing an inaccurate report that he was unhappy with the move to the middle. "Like I said to these guys, since I got here, I’ve been switching positions. I’m always open to try something new. Like I said, if it works, it works and, if not, we’ll go back to the way things were."

So far, it is working as far as adjusting to the new spot and comfort level are concerned.

"I’ve played defensive end, I’ve played outside linebacker (and) all of our reads were from the outside in," Misi said. "I was walked out on number two. I’m playing Mike (linebacker) now, I’m in the middle. I’m reading everything inside out. I’m dropping in the middle. Everything’s different. I’ve got a lot more calls to make. I’ve got a lot more reads. With work, it will get better.”

 "Once I get this defense down playing, playing Mike, I think I'll be all right.

"I’m already feeling a lot more comfortable."


The team didn't ask him what he thought of the move.

"They just told me they were thinking about some things," Ellerbe said. "I’m down for it. Where ever I can stay in and get comfortable and be able to help the team and play my best, I don’t care where they put me."

The Dolphins are still in the middle linebacker market. As they should be. They'll keep an eye out for possible candidates as teams make cuts between now and training camp and then again before the regular season.

The next phase of this experiment is obviously to see how Misi handles the middle when hitting begins. Then everyone will see how he handles the middle when the preseason games begin.

Amazingly, a team that paid so much to fill its middle linebacker spot a year ago still has uncertainty with the quality of play at that position.


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Excluded from that rant are MIT, Dolfan Rick, Darkoak, and Darryl Dunphy.

Posted by: Tim in Tampa | June 03, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Forgot to include fin4life.
He helps keep this blog real.
I don't believe any of you guys would be responsible for violating the Cardinal Rule of impersonating someone else.

This is not a knock on Misi but we don't have a true MLB on this team. Vilma may be past his prime but he must be a better MLB than anyone we have.

still need
a qb

Call me a skeptic to think that Misi can be a force at MLB. He's done a lot of nothing in his career so far.

No I don't wonder at all.

You mention Clemons makes the tackle and then Jones being 15 yards off the line? I think you mean Clemons since you referenced him earlier in the article.


Misi at MLB is like Susan Boyle, no one ever gave him the chance. :) wink wink

Posted by: Tim in Tampa | June 03, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Sad but part of the deal on Armando's blog. Thanks for the props BTW!

Posted by: Robert | June 03, 2014 at 11:19 AM

I agree here, someone who has started in the league at MLB is better than an experiment. I wouldn't rule out the Fins bringing in more talent at LB before training camp is out.

Marino must be near broke.....

Things get worse for Ellerbe ... Jenkins took a number of first team snaps in his place.

And as far as Wheeler goes, Lynch stonewalled him pretty good yesterday too...

Hopefully they can piece the MLB position this year. Not exactly a hot market for that position ... true very good MLBs are pretty rare in today's game.

Vilma and Pat Angerer if they can get their health together should be decent options if this doesn;t go right. Not like they need a guy to man the position for a decade - just to get the team through this year and assess the market a year from now.

Outside of Daryl Smith and an aged Karlos Dansby (wasn't happening) there wasn't a lot out there in the draft or free agency.

I think Ellerbe's success at Baltimore was because of the coaching and players around him.
Signing Ellerbe reminds me of the deal we made for Gibril Wilson.

That's pretty extreme Tim. Ellerbe was bad but wheeler was waaaaaay worse.

I thought we won that game.

2012 and the 5 years before that we could not stop the tight end and we gave up big pass plays. Now it appears we have something else to whine about.

If the offense scores and the opponent has to pass to catch up, no problem!

It's the offense stupid!!!!!

yea everybody knows since Seattle and Baltimore(last 2 superbowl winners) are such offensive juggernauts.

And we continue paying for the mistakes of good ol Jeffy Ireland! Man did he suck!!!

Yea well Slam, you watch those boring teams. I had much rather watch New Orleans, Denver, New England.

Bob Griese won two Super Bowls and was like watching grass grow. Marino did not win one and was much more fun to watch. That is what this is about, fun to watch and be a fan. Real fans don't have to have Super Bowls, they just want to have a team that is fun to watch.

Do you think New England fans would trade the Patriots for the Ravens or the Seahawks?

Linebacker does look like a potentially weak position. Misi in the middle has to work now. Can Jenkins replace Wheeler? Tripp probably needs another year.

Like Mark said I would kick the tires on Vilma and Angerer for the vet min. No risk involved with them, might as well try it.

Posted by: EVERYBODY KNOWS | June 03, 2014 at 11:59 AM

Winning a title is pretty exciting, so is great defense. Any fan here would be up for anything that brings us a title.

Danny boy really has brain issues from football. He thought he was banging his wife when he fathered illigitimate girl. It wasn't his fault,it was too many hits to the head by Bruce Smith.
Also you can tell he has brain damage with his $14 million investment that went down the tubes last year.
So good luck to Dan and his lawsuit..

I thought the tackles were supposed to keep the O-linemen off the LBs. Did big Paul not do something right on that play?

Here's a thought - why not see if Zach Thomas is willing to come in and work with both Misi and Tripp. Not so much to coach the LB play but instead to teach them how to study film and game plan. Zach, I think a fifth rounder, did more with less than any MLB in history and he was relentless.

I just want a winner. I don't care if they do it with offense, defense, or special teams (don;t laugh the Bears went all the way to the Super Bowl riding Hester and defense).

I'm sick of the season ending in December. Any of you guys know how dark and dreary it is up here in december and January? It would be nice for once to have something other than the stinker Maple Leafs to entertain me in those awful months.

odin,STFU !

Sorry, we had enough good defenses under Saban, Wanstadt and Sparano for me. I am ready for offense. Shootouts are much more fun than dropped passes and three yards and a cloud of dust.

After being fired from CBS Marino probably cant pay all his child support so he's trying a lawsuit. And how did he get a concussion? He never got hit. Dont remember him ever coming out of a game woosy.

EK @ 12:03
Good point - it probably was Solai's fault and that is why we upgraded from him to Mitchell.

Let solai fcck up the Falcs defense now, we have mitchell to carry us.

Oh, I forgot sacks.

monte, if u farted any where
near choker dan he cried to shula
waaaaaa waaaaaaaaa, he touched me coach
sounds like a stupid homer
2 me

Mark, it was dark and dreary in S. Fla too, after those two losses to end the season. Seven points in two games. Against those teams!!

It's the offense!!!

Beast of the Yellow Night @ 11:52

Does 'Yellow Night' refer to bedwetting?

Also we were 8-6 with 2 to go to make postseason. That was completely Ireland's team.

Ireland built a playoff team out of scrubs that no one else wwanted.

Keeping Philbin was the mistake.


Michael Sam is available for trade and he can play MLB.

Anyone who watched Marino play knows he got hit a lot. We did not have Brady rules then. You could hit a player a lot later then. And the head and knee rules were not in effect back then.

Marino did not get sacked because he threw the ball away just as he was getting blasted.


Where did the following rank st thier positions last year:


tpuke might have a case


Just so we are clear the 'Brady Rule' does not apply to the likes of Tanne and Henne; they can be suplexed 50+ times per season and the refs will never call it.

Slight modification: In the clip Mando refers to at the 34 second mark, Ellerbe does get an initial 'push back' from Mack...then the TE joins in and Ellerbe is now 'double teamed' by the Center & TE.
In fairness...no linebacker would have made a play in that case.

I think Ellerbe's success at Baltimore was because of the coaching and players around him.

Posted by: Tim in Tampa | June 03, 2014 at 11:45 AM

It reminds me of Noshwan Moreno. His success was only because of Peyton Manning.

I agree the D is not the problem. The offense is just anemic and still lacks any effective playmakers.

Ellerbe is gone after this year anyway. He has a $10M cap hit coming up and most of it is not guaranteed. Unless he suddenly becomes pro bowl caliber, we might as well see what we have later in the year and jenkins and Tripp. have to find out if one can be a starter day one next year or maybe we find a MLB and move Misi back outside.

I would've June 1st'd Wheeler. he's a complete sack.

Marino retired at the end of 1999. That's 14 seasons ago and the Dolphins are still trying to find his replacement. Lets hope it does not take that long to find Zack Thomas replacement.

Ellerbee did underachieve last season. He is overpaid like about everyone else in pro football. But, he is not a major problem. The three and outs kept the D on the field way too long. And, the other team could run even in passing situations because they did not have to worry about scoring a lot of points.

I would concede that more offensive players (or better ones) should've been added during the offseason. Landry and James may be solid players but we have a tonne of "solid" would've much rather they took a spin with Brandin Cooks or Bishop Sankey or Tre Mason. All players they could've had.

Wow actually talking Football on the Dolphins football blog?? and no pests around to instigate...

Any changes that can be made to our LB corp is warranted due to 2013's play. They were embarrassing last year. I expect with another year under their belt playing in the system and together will bring improvement also.

EK, don't believe the hype.. the offense was 18th in 3 and outs. The problem with the defense is they were 21st in yards allowed which meant teams were converting too many 1st downs. They did no favours to themselves with keep themselves fresh. That's on the DC.

Again, the same eternal question. Why did Ellerbe succeed as a Mlb in Baltimore and failed here in the same capacity?

Tripp will be taking reps and working his way into a full time spot this season.

Ellerbe only filled in for short periods at MLB in Baltimore. He was also surrounded by great talent when he did play MLB.

I would concede thought that the lack of a run offense was a problem that affected both the offense and defense.

Andrew Luck and the Colts were in a similar scenario in Indy and as a result he didn't produce much more than Tannehill did. And their defense was average too.

Weapons and stuff are cool but in the end it's a basic game. Run the ball and stop the run. Don;t have to be all world in either but you have to at least be average to have any shot.

Played ILB in a 3-4 in baltimore but his main responsibility was pass coverage (which he was pretty good at here in Miami). he was never the hammer in Baltimore.

Control the line of scrimmage on D and O is the way to a Super Bowl.

I think Misi will do well for us at MLB. From a fundamentals standpoint, he does all the things you expect from a MLB. I don't think he will make splash plays for us, neither do I believe he will have too.

Our secondary and D-line have enough guys to create turnovers and tackles for loss. Misi just needs to play solid for us, not spectacular.

Mark, I know they were not the worst. If you look at the games we lost when we could not make a first down, that is when the running yards allowed were padded.

We won 8 games. We had to make some first downs to do that. Our consistency game to game getting first downs was awful.

Posted by: Mark in Toronto | June 03, 2014 at 12:49 PM

Correct Mark the same position played by Ray Lewis. Sorry for the typo....I have MLB on the brain!

Canosa, Baltimore played a 3-4 for starters. And secondly and MOST importantly. They were stacked with veteran leadership. Outstanding vet leadership will take the team, a unit and the individual players, a long way.

Cant win without a better QB.

Tannehill, Ryan, Rothlesberger, RG3 and Flacco. What do they all have in common?

They were not in the playoffs.

EK, of course it was. When your team ranks 26th in rush offense, putting together any kind of a consistent offense is impossible.

Have to get that run game to at least 15th to stand a chance and give our defense enough of a break.

Coyle should also try something other than a D line stunt to put pressure on an offense.

These were the bottom half teams in the league by rushing yards. How many palyoff teams you see there?

St. Louis
Tampa Bay
New Orleans
NY Giants

3. That means 9 of the top 16 teams in rush yards make the playoffs while 12 of the bottom 16 don't make the playoffs. Not an accident.

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