Thursday, April 23, 2009

What If We Analyzed Crazy?

by Jason Jones

We are on the heels of the 2009 NFL Draft. As I have crunched every logical scenario for most, if not all, of the 32 teams, I find myself looking at the not-so-logical. This year's rumors have not lived up to the foolery of previous year thus far, so I let my mind wander. I personally am not a Dolphins fan, however, you had to marvel at the success of the worst team in the NFL in 2007. Just by adding in a new formation (the WILDCAT) this team was very entertaining to watch. So let's take a gander and what could be if they took the wildcat to the next level.

I’ve mapped out a way to become an offensive juggernaut as well as improving and adding depth to their young defense (Joey Porter excluded from “young”).

-First and foremost, the threat of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams only remains a threat if the defensive coordinator is deathly afraid of the passing game. Ted Ginn will probably evolve into a wonderful wildcat WR. But after him, that’s where the discussion ends.

-For some strange reason, Al Davis seems to be backing off Jeremy Maclin in the first round due to his 4.5+ 40 time. And if projections are to be taken as mandate, so is the rest of the league. So, suspending reality (at least in my mind) we draft WR Jeremy Maclin with 25th overall pick in 2009. Also in 2009, on his shiftiness and reliability catching the ball in traffic, we take a flyer on WR Quan Cosby. On the high side he might prove to be a poor man’s Wes Welker. Moving on to the 2010 draft, WRs keep getting picked. In the first round again, we select RB (but in this scheme better utilized as a kick returner and WR) Joe McKnight from USC. Like Ginn, McKnight is not a protype at WR or RB for that matter, but could be huge in the wildcat formation. To counter things so that it doesn’t seem like the entire offense is predicated on trick plays, we add another conventional WR, Brandon LaFell from LSU. Now, when you look at the depth chart, you would have one conventional WR and one Wildcat WR paired up. Jeremy Maclin and Ted Ginn, then Brandon LaFell and Joe McKnight.

-Next would be QB. Chad Pennington did more than was expected in 2008, however, for the sake of this discussion, we are considering a full-time wildcat formation. Threats of all possibilities from almost all positions. Wait for it…with the second of two picks in the third round, Miami selects QB Pat White from West Virginia, to…yes…play QB. Then just slide the other two QBs down a spot. White starts, Pennington backs him up and Henne backs up Pennington.

-Tight End is not a huge and sexy position even in the wildcat. However unimpressive it is, clearly it is important to get a guy who can block as well as catch. So let's skip any draft picks and go straight to the 2010 free agency period. Josh McDaniels feels so strongly in his system no one person is irreplaceable. So, in 2010, the Dolphins acquire TE Tony Scheffler. Again, slide everyone down one spot.

-The offensive line is important, but for the sake of discussion, let's assume they just draft for depth and an occasional sleeper to improve the o-line.

-Defensive line…the lifeblood of any 3-4 defense (assuming they continue with that evolution). Kendall Langford was a typical Parcells draft pick. He was considered a slight reach, but has stepped in and performed like a starter…where he will remain. Jason Ferguson is ok, but no real stud NT. And there doesn’t seem to be one on the horizon. Just for insurance sake, in 2010 the Dolphins select Kellen Heard late. Heard is 330+ pounds and outside of the elite NT’s, size is most important. Technique can be learned. Also in 2010, they sign Derrick Burgess from Oakland. He is a fringe Pro Bowl talent. And if this wasn’t unconventional enough, we will put him at weak side DE in a 3-4. Risky move, I know. Adding depth on the line, in 2009 they draft Paul Kruger and DeMarcus Granger in 2010.

-Linebacking core is where the majority of the defensive pressure will come from and Miami has a very good start. Joey Porter (for now) and Phillip Merling will be the mainstays at OLB. We will also add Chike Okeafor from Arizona in 2010 free agency and move Matt Roth to OLB in a rotational capacity. On the inside, a little experimentation. Start Channing Crowder on the strong side and start Reggie Torbor somewhat out of position, backing them up rotationally with key special teamers, Williams Kershaw and Darry Beckwith (2009 second-day draft pick).

-The secondary doesn’t really change much. Will Allen at the #1 CB spot and Gibril Wilson at the FS spot are the class of this aspect of the defense. Draft Patrick Chung in 2009 and sign Nick Harper in 2010, which leaves the depth to Yeremiah Bell, Tyrone Culver, Jason Allen, and Mark Parson.

-Now keep in mind, this exercise was done in all seriousness. The drafted players mentioned are all attainable according to projections relative to where the Dolphins should be drafting. In addition, the free agent signings are realistic. None of them are top-flight free agents that will demand a large contract. So once again, let's look at this starting 22 (offense and defense) on paper.

QB1 Pat White
QB2 Chad Pennington
FB Brannan Southerland
RB1 Ronnie Brown
RB2 Ricky Williams
TE1 Tony Scheffler
TE2 Anthony Fasano
WR1 Jeremy Maclin
WR2 Ted Ginn Jr
WR3 Joe McKnight
WR4 Brandon LaFell
LT Jake Long
LG Andy Kemp
C Jake Grove
RG Ikechuku Ndukwe
RT Vernon Carey

DE Kendall Langford
NT Jason Ferguson
DE Derrick Burgess
OLB Joey Porter
ILB Reggie Torbor
ILB Channing Crowder
OLB Phillip Merling
SS Patrick Chung
FS Gibril Wilson
CB Will Allen
CB Nick Harper

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