Monday, May 05, 2014

Miami Dolphins Confidential Issue 6 " D-Backs"

The offseason goal of every team in the NFL is to improve their team.  The primary wave of free agency has passed. Next up will be the NFL draft followed by the bargain shopping in the free agency after the draft. GM’s and fans alike tend to focus on the new additions to the team when trying to get a feel for how much improvement the team will show.  However, a very important aspect of the success of all teams will hinge on how the players remaining on their rosters from the prior season improve or decline.  We at Bitchin Dave’s thought it would add some intrigue to the offseason lull to have a discussion on where we feel the team is at and where they are headed.

The prognosticators will be Carl “The Ref” Leone , Chad “ The Baumhower” Ronnebaum . We will be having a position by position debate on where the Dolphins ranked in 2013 as well as where we see them ranking at the end of 2014.  We are going to start with our pre-draft rankings and then will update this post draft and probably once or twice prior to the start of season as the final free agent signings and injuries shape the team during training camp and the preseason.

Scale: We are using a 10 point scale to rank where we felt the positions ranked against the rest of league in 2013 as well as where we predict they will rank in 2014.  5 out of 10 for example would mean we rank the unit as about the 15-16th best unit in the league.  10 out of 10 would basically feature pro bowl players at the top of the league and 0 out of 10 would be dead last or the worst unit in the league. Issue Six will review the D-Backs.

Defensive Backs

                                                                                               Chad’s Take                       Carl’s Take

2013 Position Rank
5 out 10                        6 out of 10                             
2014 Prediction
9 out of 10                   7.5 out of 10


Predicted Depth Chart
2014 Improvement/Decline Prediction
Brent Grimes
0                                                 0
Cortland Finnegan
0                                                 0
Jamar Taylor
+1                                                 .5
Will Davis
+1                                                 .5
Reshad Jones
+1                                                   0
Louis Delmas
+1                                                  .5
Jimmy Wilson
0                                                     0


Chad: The Miami defensive backfield did an adequate job in 2013. They were able to limit big plays and keep Miami in most games. However they still struggled to cause enough turnovers to change the course of a game. The top player was Brent Grimes by a long ways.  He is the best corner we have had since the days of Madison and Surtain.  He is a pro bowl player and he is the reason the defensive backfield was respectable. I can’t expect Grimes to improve in 2014 simply because he played terrific in 2013.

Carl: Grimes didn’t give up a TD catch last year. That’s amazing! Gonna be tough to improve on that. He made so many big plays for us. The Pick-6 against Cinncinnati was terrific. As far as pass defense, we only gave up 17 TD passes (tied for 2nd) last year against 18 Interceptions (tied for 10th). Now some picks were by linebackers and some TD’s were against linebackers in coverage too. The point is I think we made as many big plays as we gave up.

Chad: Dimitri Patterson was a play maker in limited action but was never able to stay healthy during his time here.  Nolan Carroll had his best season and has turned into a serviceable outside cornerback.   Reshad Jones did not produce the number of big plays people were expecting.  However, he is still a young talented player whom I expect will bounce back in 2014.  Chris Clemons is another serviceable player that will not win games for you but also won’t be a complete liability.   2014 brought some significant changes.  Kevin Coyle is a very good secondary guru and I have to believe he did not feel the 2013 unit was being aggressive enough at challenging opposing teams.  This led to the departure of Carroll, Patterson, and Clemons.

Carl: Patterson had injury issues with his back so he had to go. I think he had 3 picks with limited time on the field but a back injury can come back to haunt you.

Chad: Coming in are two very aggressive players in Cortland Finnegan and Louis Delmas.  These are both in your face players and I love the addition of them. Tom Brady and his WR’s will pick you apart if you get on your heels.  You have to be disruptive making it hard to get off the line and also make them pay the price to make some catches over the middle. 

Carl: I think against Brady you have to have tight coverage and pressure him up the middle to get him off his spot plus hit him as much as possible. And they love to run those crossing patterns underneath a zone.

Chad: Also, don’t discount Will Davis and Jamar Taylor. They both struggled with injuries but still were able to get some valuable time learning the pro game and Coyle’s system. They will now get a full camp and all reports are they are healthy and ready to go.

Carl: I was dying to see those two on the field. They may have to step up this year.

Chad: This unit has the potential to feature a good mix of two solid veteran CBs matched with two talented young CBs to learn from them. Throw in Jimmy Wilson and you have 5 solid guys that can play cornerback.  Most teams are not in that position.  Factoring in: Coyle’s coaching, pro bowl veterans, young talent, and overall depth.

Carl: Well my jury is still out on Davis and Taylor. But having another camp and being healthy, I give them each a half point improvement.

Chad:  This is my big pick as the unit that will show massive improvement.

Carl: That’s a mouthful Chad. I am not sure they will improve more than our O-Line as a unit will improve this year. Coyle is an excellent secondary coach so I think they will improve too but only by 1.5 points. I am concerned about Finnegan and Delmas staying healthy. I believe we will draft a safety at some point in this draft. The problem with that is that after the top three, there is a significant drop in the talent level of the safety pool in this draft.  We may have to grab one early if we want a very good one. And if Coyle doesn’t have confidence in Davis and Taylor, we can grab a corner in the 7th round. There are plenty of good corners in this draft. The draft will tell us if Coyle is confident or not in Davis and Taylor. Let’s hope so.
Chad: I always say you can never have enough good corners in the NFL. But I don't see Taylor, Davis, Grimes, Finnegan or Wilson getting cut. So if we use a pick on a D-Back I have to imagine it will be a safety. With Delmas on a one year deal they may go that route. But I would want to use Coyle to my advantage so I would draft a high talent but raw type player that Croyle can work with this year vs a player that has to come in and play now. Maybe a 4-5th round safety unless he is just  clearly the best player on the board. I would rate safety behind Oline, #2 TE, and Linebacker. It is more a want than a need at this point.

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