Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Plugging Up Holes

Poor Channing Crowder. Poor Akin Ayodele. Poor Reggie Torbor. Poor rest of the inside linebackers that fans barely ever think of. Truth is, the outside linebackers in a 3-4 defense get all the press, glamour, and accolades (there is a sack leader stat, but no official run-stuffer stat in the NFL). The inside guys? We just complain about them when they're doing something negative and don't even notice when they do something positive. In a 4-3 defense, the middle linebacker can be the center of attention, but in a 3-4, there's two guys on the inside, and it all gets watered down.

Everyone noticed Zach Thomas when he covered the whole middle of the field, but the same can't be said for Crowder and Ayodele when they're splitting that duty.

Heading into training camp in August, these are the players that will be competing for a roster spot:

JD Folsom, # 59.
Folsom is 6'3", 230lbs. Guess what position he played at Weber State. Nope, he played Matt Roth's role in 2008, lining up on the LOS on the strong side with a hand on the ground. The more I look at this draft pick the more confused I am. He's another Mormon player who took 2 years off from football so he comes in as a 25 year old rookie. The Dolphins passed on some incredible football players to take Folsom (Nick Reed, Mike Mickens, Rashad Jennings, Trevor Canfield, Zack Follett, Lydon Murtha, etc). What is it that they see in him? The media hasn't even noticed him, so far, so invisible.

Orion Martin, # 48.
Now this is where things start getting interesting. Martin was a defensive end at Virginia Tech, is listed as a defensive end on the official roster, and is a pass-rush specialist. Yet the Dolphins have been using him almost exclusively on the inside according to local media. It was my initial roster that had Martin on the outside and Tearrius George on the inside. Then the media and other fans made me second guess myself. I'm leaning back to my original leanings with George on the inside and Martin on the outside. Its very possible the reporters mixed up the two since they're number 48 and 49 and are similar sized bodies. Either way, Martin's past accomplishments have all been from the outside, so the potential move inside would be a huge leap.


William Kershaw, # 58.
Kershaw was picked up mid-season as a free agent addition to our practice squad but was signed to the 53 man roster for the last couple of weeks of 2008. He has the most experience of the 'bottom 3' after signing with Kansas City in 2006 and spending time here and there for the Chiefs, Texans, Eagles, Saints and now the Dolphins. Is his journeyman past a red-flag?



Reggie Torbor, # 53.
Earlier today, Omar Kelly and I agreed that Torbor was well overpaid for what production we got from him in 2008. In fact, most people won't remember this, but there was a time early on that the coaches weren't confident enough in Torbor to give him more snaps. Crowder and Ayodele were left to play alot more snaps than they would've liked to lack of depth at ILB. Torbor has failed to impress in OTAs so far, and may have been a reach to begin with. He had a good run to the Super Bowl, and cashed in on it, but as one reader mentioned in reference to the offensive line, you want starter quality guys being your 1st backup. I'm not sure Torbor is starter quality.

Akin Ayodele, # 51.
Picking up from what I just said about starter-quality, there is no doubt in my mind that Ayodele would be an excellent backup. I think he is starter-quality for a few snaps a game. I would not wet myself if the guy in front of him got injured and he had to step in. Now that said, I was very disappointed in two aspects of Ayodele's game in 2008, enough so to want to replace him as the starter. First, his aggressiveness. There were too many plays where I saw the stutter-step. These linebackers need to be able to flow to the ball, and change direction if they need to, not wait until they know where the ball is going before making that first step. I guess it comes down to trusting your gut. The second one is the biggest problem, in my mind. His stamina. This is where not trusting in Torbor came into play a lot. Ayodele seemed to get 'gassed' a lot either on long drives or towards the end of the half/game. I feel that's where his lack of ability to get past the line on 3rd down blitzes came into play - he just didn't have it left in the tank. No real excuse for this since he was in the trifecta's training program for longer than most. I hope he has made some improvements in these areas or I will be calling for his head again in January.

Channing Crowder, # 52
Crowder is one of those guys who doesn't stand out a lot, doesn't make a lot of Sportscenter, and doesn't make a whole lot of sense when he speaks. But he is a consistent tackler and is one of the few 'long-time' Dolphins, if such a statement can be made, for a reason. He understands the game. He may not be a very gifted athlete or get a lot of credit for being a 'student of the game' but I guarantee he looked up to Zach Thomas and has tried to soak up as much of Thomas' habits as possible, which includes extensive film study. In his first year at the helm of the defense he racked up 113 tackles in 13 starts. His goal in 2009 should be to make it 16 starts, and to increase his production as far as turnovers/forced fumbles go. No one's expecting Crowder to turn into a ball-hawk, but he should be able to at least get the ball on the ground once a game. With a year under his belt, he should be able to relax more on the play-calling and focus more on those kinds of things.

So those are the 6 guys in the middle of the defense heading into training camp. While I do think Tearrius George is better-suited to the inside, I will hold off on discussing him until tomorrow when we look at the outside linebackers.

40 comments:

  1. JD Folsom IS Wayne Rooney?

    http://pompey.blogsfc.com/files/2009/04/wayne-rooney.jpg

    United need him more than the Fins ..... sorry Tin.

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  2. LOL, if Folsom's ears looked like Wallace's from Wallace and Gromit, then I'd say someone is living a double life here...

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  3. I am still bitter over Orion Martin.  If they hadn't traded that last draft pick, and drafted him, rather than waiting and signing him 2 hours later, I might have won that first contest and been the only person getting 2 draft picks correct.  I will never hear this guys name and not think of that.

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  4. For those who've never felt the tingle,
    NFLN AMERICAS GAME is running the"72"Dolphins 2nght @8pm est,till 9,and "73" 9-10...Reruns 11-mdnght,and probably through the week..
    WOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DOLPHINS!!!

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  5. I'm watching it right now, but my wife will coming in soon from fishing and that will end my enjoyment.  She had better catch something if I can't see the Dolphins.

    Tin I'll reply later tonight on the ILB, no time now.

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  6. GOOODSTUFFFF MAN,those were GLORIOUS DAYS!!
    TS should show this to his team,I see alot of the charactics of that 72 team in this regimes effort's!!
    GOOD THINGS are coming"OUR"way people!!
    I can feel it in my veins!!

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  7. MANNN,after all these yrs,that footage STILL brings tears of joy!!
    I CAN'T WAIT till we do it again!! GO D O L P H I N S !!!

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  8. ...I didn't think much of Crowder until the KC game when he was injured and KC ran over, around, and through his replacements ...hard to argue with his ability when you see what happens when he's not there ...not a pro-bowler and probably never will be, but compared to everyone else on your list, he's head and shoulders ...now if we only ran defensive sets that required just the one ILB, we'd be ok ...not great, but ok.

    ...I've vented before re Torbor ...he certainly didn't earn his money last year and I see nothing that makes me think this year will be any better ...I count him as one of Parcels misses.

    ...good review on Ayodele ...pretty much nailed him ...he could be the bu to the new ILB we trade J.Allen et al to get

    ...yeah, I know :)

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  9. IF ya throw-out there the possibility of every single Dolphin player getting traded,(your bound to get one right)!!!

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  10. WOWWW,they must of let Ronnie make the Folsom pk,and he got too excited when he saw WILDCAT on Folsoms jersey..
    I loved Mickens(projected 1st rndr after 07),and Murtha!!

    I hope OMartin make's the team to haunt HERD through eternity(or until CP's done),and I like his JP like celebrations(LOL)!!..
    HOPEFULLY she'll be often"BITTER"!!

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  11. I agree on Torbor!! I was high on him b/4 he came here,but he clearly didn't contribute enough in 08!!
    I'll give him another yr in the system,unless a studly replacement gets cut elsewhere..
    Thank heavens for the Ayodele trade,(but maybe thats what deflated Torbor)!! How can he start for the WC Giants,and not be an adaquete BU for the team we were,or even for the team we are now??
    BP see's lots in gyz that we evidently have no vision for!!

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  12. Come on Tin get with the program, its been noted several times that Parcells likes to take guys like Folsom that he can groom from the practice squad, if he were to do that with a more high profile guy they'd get poached. 

    Have you noticed that Parcells has an offseason training program second to none.  They've really been raving about Murphy's body this yr compared to last, and his isn't the only one they've changed.

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  13. In regards to Torbor, do we ever really nail an FA in their first yr with us?   Sure there's been a few, (Smiley), but the majority has been closer to guys like Porter that basically do nothing in their first yr in Miami.  I'm with you guys that I doubt he'll ever be that very good ILB that we thought we were getting, but its still a little too early to tell.

    A very interesting comment by Omar, I think, came out yesterday that said we had to overpay last yr because of how bad the team was last yr, so with that said we really shouldn't have been expecting our FAs from last yr to match what we paid for them. 

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  14. The Knight who says Ni!June 25, 2009 at 11:17 AM

    I'm not as down on the ILBs as some of you guys are. I agree we don't have a dominant player at the position but I don't think they were a big problem last year either. With improved DL play and pass rush they will look even better. As for the depth, we don't really know what we have yet. Obviously the trifecta sees something in these guys. One thing Parcells knows is LBs.

    However, I do think LB will be a target at the top of the draft next year. Possibly both outside and inside.

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  15. The problem with Crowder is that the majority of his plays come down field instead of at the LOS... and yes, he is wayyy better than our other LBs at the position, but we should draft mo better next season.

    As far as Folsom, he was a baffling draft choice... it would seem that he was drafted specifically for specials teams...

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  16. actually if Orion Martin was drafted and JD Folsom was picked up a sa free agent that would've made a whole lot more sense to me...

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  17. The Knight who says Ni!June 25, 2009 at 12:37 PM

    I constantly hear that most of Crowder's plays come down the field instead of at the LOS. I think the thing that stands out about that is how Channing is always in the game and makes some of those tackles other defenders should be making. It's not like he's making all his tackles down the field because he missed the tackle originally. That would be hard to make up for.

    Remember too that Crowder is just 25 years old and the 3-4 defense playing the 'Mike' was pretty new to him. For instance, Ayodele already knew that defense and Channing called the defense. I expect a big year from Crowder. I'm not saying he will have it, but I expect it. I think this is his time.

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  18. Yeah, what you said. lol

    I'll not pretend I had any idea what I was doing with that, because frankly, I know I couldn't.

    Your comments section has the like this comment, yes no thing showing on it again. Seems like when it does, that's when my comments disappear.

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  19. I'm really late with this.  I'm not sure of many of the draft picks this year, seems to me many of them are reaches.  I don't see but 4 of them making the team this year, and Folson is not one of them.  He could beat out Torbor though.  I was hoping to see Roth moved inside, what a moose he would be in there, I doubt that we will see that happen. 

    This is the area I thought we would address at about the 3rd round or so.  But as we can all see the team still had plenty of positions that needed upgrading.

    Even though they didn't go after who I would have liked to see here, they really upgraded a glaring need in the defensive backfield, and Miami was strong most of the year against the run.  So I can see the reasoning behind the picks.

    As Sparano said they are still turning over every rock they see.

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  20. ...lol ...I "think" I've only mentioned JA more than once as trade bait ...but you have to admit that Sparano is going to have to cut some talent this time around to get to 53 ...saying that and believing we still have strong needs at OL and ILB, it seems logical to me that Ireland will package a few of the better cut prospects and try to improve one of our weaker slots ...I certainly don't "know" they'll do that but I'd be pretty disappointed in JI if he isn't already working on such.

    ...take for instance, our WRs ...if Armstrong doesn't make the 53 for some reason and we put him back on PS, he'd almost certainly be poached this year ...so why not offer him in a package with JA and maybe an OLB extra ...maybe they get a bite, maybe not.

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  21. 13kvFINS ...iirc Torbor was not a starter for the Giants that year but became one late when the original starter went down ...and you have to admit that he had a pretty damn good playoffs run ...but alas, we bought him and he's returned to his bu form after getting a starter payday ...his luck, our loss ...if it was me, I'd cut his ass if he wasn't challenging Ayodele to start in TC ...but then I'm not the trifecta and don't have to answer to anyone but myself :)

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  22. I cannot believe I missed that!!!

    This is what happens when you cut down on your tv viewing...

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  23. I certainly see your logic, and am inclined to agree in the principle, but NFL teams almost never trade players for players anymore.

    As for Armstrong, I don't see why he'd be a sure waiver-wire poaching.  He survived it last year, and there was a pretty sizable WR class in the draft.

    Out of curiosity, who do you think we should trade for?

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  24. ...I have to tell you tin, this blog layout makes it difficult to tell when there is a reply that needs a response ...I tried the e-mail thing but it doesn't let me post dircectly ...probably nothing you can do about it but if no one speaks up, you'll never know, eh.

    ...I wish I had a clue as to who the trade candidate would be ...that requires investing enough time in this to be up to date on all of the nfl teams and who is doing what to whom for how much ...I have enough of a time just keeping up with you and O ...besides which, Ireland and his staff get paid big bucks to know all the inside stuff

    ...I do know that I would really be happy with a talented young OL hungry to push Carey or Smiley for their slots ...and when they produce THAT piece of magic, maybe we can find a replacement for Torbor who can push Ayodele.

    ...I actually think its possible we'll see an OLB or two try to make the move inside ...we are suddenly afloat with talent at OLB and Sparano has proven he's not afraid to experiment with a player's position ...and don't ask for names, eh ...it won't be Porter or JT but otherwise there are a number of possibilities, some better than others.

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  25. ...re Armstrong ...the other teams track what is going on in our camps ...its no secret that Armstrong had a very impressive OTA ...should he produce similarly in camp but not make the 53 cut again because we need a different mix, I think he would be poached off the PS pretty quickly by some team needing exactly what Armstrong provides ...last year was a different story ...he had no experience and few teams were looking to the lowly fins to poach anyone, Parmalee being I think the lone exception ...I just think this year the other teams are aware that Sparano is loaded and isn't going to be able to keep some talent he'd like to ...thus they'll look to our waivers and PS a lot sooner this year than last ...just my opinion, worth exactly what it cost you 8-)

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  26. It might be a bit late to start experimenting now...I don't think they'd make that move at this point, though I did suggest I thought Tearrius George would be better as an inside LB, and he has played inside before in the CFL so who knows.

    I use the e-mail notification so I know when someone asks a question, etc.  I tried a few of scripts and found this one to be the most stable, and more importantly, had the best customer service if anything went wrong, so I stuck with it.  It's better than the other blogs where you have no notification at all...

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  27. lemmus, that test is actually me replying directly to the e-mailed version of your commment, so you can reply directly to the email

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  28. re: Armstrong, you have a point, though he did have just as good an offseason last year, the competition was lower and it may have been considered a fluke.  Two years in a row is not a fluke.

    However, I disagree on the 'different mix' a little bit.  If we have two slot guys, two big guys, then it's likely we'd have two spread the field guys, Ginn would need a back-up.  I think that would be the best mix.  three starters with three backups.  We wouldn't have to activate all of them, but if a receiver or two got injured, we'd have enough bu's to survive the season.

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  29. ...by "different mix" I wasn't implying any specific set of WRs, only that
    Sparano & Co may decide on a WR mix that leaves Armstrong as an odd man out
    even though he is well qualified to play WR in the NFL ...I can't imagine
    anyone arguing that the 3/3 mix would be likely, but I'd also have to say
    that Henning may see things differently than we do and he'll make the call,
    not us.
    ...and we'll see if this actually posts ...a previous try went into the
    ether along with Ni's.
    William

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  30. ...tin ...tried a reply off your e ...went into the ether again ...bummer.

    ...what I meant by a "different mix" is that Sparano/Henning may see things differently and value someone like London over Armstrong because of other factors.

    ...I really like that Armstrong has showed so well at this point ...makes for a much more competitive TC and that makes for a much better team imnsho.

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  31. ...and NOW the damn e post shows up ...lol ...you didn't warn me to give it an hour to dance around in the ether before it decided to appear :)

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  32. lemmus, i got your first response, maybe it got delayed in posting to the
    site?

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  33. Knight, I too am not as down on our ILB's as some of the guys, but I am very concerned about the middle of our D.  If Ferg goes down or starts showing his age our middle could be soft. I do agree with your comment about Channing making plays down field being an indicator that he doesn't quit on plays and may be making tackles that were others' assignment rather than being late to the line.  From watching it has seemed to me that his assignment has not been to be right up on the line.  Also, I don't think they have called his number for many blitzes either. I know this probably has no baring on real life, but on madden 09 Channing is always the one ILB that get's the coverage roll, zone or spy assignment while Ayodele gets the run blitz and press assignments. but that's just madden. I too am looking for big things from Channing this year.

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  34. LOL, yeah Ayodele is the guy in all the madden blitz packages. For what
    it's worth, another great option is to blitz with Bell. He seems to be able
    to slide between blockers.
    It's too bad that Madden isn't an indicator of real life because in my last
    season, Wilford had a good 15 catches or so.
    :P

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  35. HA that is funny you said that about Bell. I just discovered that this past weekend. EVERY time I would X Bell (you know what I mean, individual autible?) and tell him to blitz he would slide right through.  It was pissing the guy who I was playing (Pat's) off to no end.  To the point where he quit!  I have a new play on Madden now.  Blitz Bell.  I was always scared to because I wanted help with Moss over the top. In the one game I played this weekend Bell put Brady on his ass 5 times!  Do you know of any other tricks I haven't discovered yet?  I need all I can get playing a 78 rank team against all the 'Boys, Pat's, Steelers, Eagles and Giants (all high 90's) players on line.

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  36. do you do the training stuff every week? good way to increase your team's
    overall rating.
    I don't want to give too much advice since I've been losing a lot of games
    lately...but I think I turned it around by keeping it simple. Run with
    Ronnie to the weakside of the defense till he's tried then pass a couple of
    times till Ronnie's back to full strength and keep doing it.
    If you can manage not to fumble or throw an INT in the red zone (my number
    one issue) then you should be able to run it in. I keep my plays 70% run
    and 30% pass if I can. If you find yourself in the hole, keep trying to get
    Ginn matched up one on one (get the safety to move out of position) and
    audible Ginn to run a fade route. Then just throw the ball up. For me he
    wins the battle more times than not and you can break off 40 yards at a time
    that way.

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  37. Damn, UK that's funny. They could be brothers! Not being a fan of Futbol as they call it here in miami (or Soccer if you like) I wouldn't have ever put the two together.

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  38. I have a lot of success running him out of the "bunch" offense, hurry
    up do it again and then audible to the play action when the defense
    creeps up to stop the run. It's the closest run play to the wildcat
    they have in the playbook but without the direct snap. The run usually
    nets 4+ each and the PA is good for 15-30. But be carefull with that
    PA because the D catches on after about 2 times and will pick 6 you.

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  39. Also, I didn't think the practicing helped your online rating.
    Martin Pare

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