The Dolphins worked to hard this off season to solidify the offense for new Head Coach Adam Gase, and QB Ryan Tannehill. Giving them everything they need to be successful in the coming season. They used 6 of their 8 picks in the 2016 NFL Draft on that side of the ball, and also signed several free agent linemen to add quality depth and experience to their struggling Offensive Line, and a veteran running back to provide experience and leadership to their young corps of runners.
They also made several moves on defense, But was it enough? Most of the moves made were needed to make up for their free agent losses. Starting DE Olivier Vernon was signed to a ridiculous contract by the Giants, and primary backup, Derrick Shelby was lost to the Atlanta Falcons. In a preemptive move, the Dolphins signed Free Agent Mario Williams to offset Vernon's presumed loss, while also signing Andre Branch and Jason Jones to compete for the primary and reserve roles at DE. They also added up-and-coming Isa Abdul-Quddus to take over at the Free Safety spot.
In what I thought was a great move, the Dolphins traded down 5 spots in the first round to acquire CB Byron Maxwell and MLB Kiko Alonzo.
This move brings in a CB, 1 year removed from being a difference maker in his defense, and puts him back into a system that plays to his strengths. This move offsets the loss of Brent Grimes, who played at a Pro-Bowl level for Miami. Was this an addition.....does this improve our defense?
It also brought in a young, fast, instinctive, play making MLB in Alonzo, that is now fully recovered and healthy after suffering a severe knee injury two years ago. But will he regain the form and production of his rookie season in Buffalo? Will he become the leader and play maker Vance Joseph envisions?
These were important defensive moves for Miami. Necessary in fact. But there are still more questions surrounding this Dolphins Defense;
Will Cameron Wake be a three-down player for this defense, or will he be relegated to pass-rush duties alone? Will he be as effective, and have the same burst off the line as he did before his injury?
Can Jelani Jenkins return to his 2014 form after injuries and a dip in performance in 2015?
Will this corps of LBs provide an upgrade to a run defense that tied for 28th in rushing yards allowed?
Is there enough depth at LB for Miami to overcome the inevitable injury to a starter?
Who will line up on the opposite side of Maxwell, as our #2 Corner back?
Will Isa Abdul-Quddus continue his ascent and provide the center fielder Miami needs to provide Jones the freedom to be the natural, instinctive play maker he is?
I don't think this defensive roster is a finished product. Unless Howard or Lippett blows Gase and Joseph away early in camp, I see them picking up a veteran CB to hold down that spot for the next year or so, giving Howard and Lippett some time to develop. IMO, I don't think our #2 Corner Back is on the roster right now. They have the cap space to sign a veteran, and regardless of what you may think, they want to win now, and a veteran CB helps get that done. They'll be combing the waver wire in the next few weeks, looking to add some depth to the LB corps, and wherever they think they need that help.
There are a lot of serious questions on defense that need to be answered if we're going to be successful in 2016, but I believe we have the right people in place to answer those questions, and make the moves and decisions necessary.