Friday, February 5, 2010

The Knight Who Says Ni! inspects the Nose Tackle Tree for Ripe Fruit

The following is a guest blog from our very own reader/Barry Manilow die-hard, The Knight Who Says Ni!:

Phillip Merling at NT?

NT Ferguson 6-3 315 14th? (a seasoned leader and solid NT - if he re-signs)
NT Soliai 6-4 345 4th (getting better)
NT Merling 6-4 295 3rd (talented and will get bigger in the off-season)
DE Starks 6-3 305 7th (coming into his own)
DE Langford 6-6 295 3rd (solid with some more upside)
DE McDaniel 6-7 305 5th (versatile)
DE Dotson 6-4 290 3rd (hanging in there)
DE Alama-Francis 6-5 290 4th (talented with potential)
DE Baker 6-5 295 2nd (performed well in the preseason and a few games this year as a rookie)

Notice the accumulation of DEs this year. McDaniel, Baker and Alama-Francis. Dotson has been trying to get into the mix for two years but can't with the depth we have. So that's four guys battling for playing time behind Starks and Langford. 

I bet a lot of people forgot about the signing of Ikaika Alama-Francis, a former 2nd round pick of the Lions in 2007, who suffered a pectoral injury and didn't pan out for them. Maybe he's a good fit at 3-4 DE. He's known for having a good work ethic and he was a 2nd round pick out of Hawaii for a reason. Still a young player.

Why all these DEs if Merling was still in the picture at DE? I think we're going to move him inside at NT at times and at DT like we have when we go to 4 man fronts. Maybe 15 plays at NT and 15 at DT. We use him at DT in 4 man fronts all the time. We seem to like him on the inside.

Anyone else notice this year how big Merling is in the lower body? That's what you want to anchor at NT. He needs to build up his upper body and get a little bigger and stronger, and we might have a more dynamic NT in the next year or two. Sparano is always saying Merling doesn't stay blocked for very long, he has a knack for getting off the block. Run defense has always been his strength. It looks like a perfect fit. Merling is a big guy. He's almost 6-5 and has a big frame. I could see him at 305 or 310 next season and a much different looking player. Maybe he's our next Jay Ratliff.

Merling might be a better option than some blob to take up space. It doesn't seem like the big, over-sized Dlineman is the kind of NT that we look for. Don't be surprised if we sign a no-name in FA and draft a NT prospect in the later rounds to compete. Merling might be the reason. Yet fans will yell and scream that we didn't draft some DT as a NT by the 1st or 2nd round.

(The Pats reached and drafted DT Ron Brace out of BC last year in the 2nd round and he barely played. 9 games, 8 tackles.) 

Is that what we want out of 1st or 2nd round picks on the DL? There aren't many college DTs ready to play 3-4 NT in the NFL. Suh would probably be the most dynamic up and coming NT in the league. With his size, power and athletic ability. This guy is going to dominate. He'd be costly but probably worth it to trade up and get him. I doubt we do it.


As crazy as the Jets were for trading away their draft for Sanchez last year, and the Saints were for doing the same for Ricky Williams, and despite the fact I consider myself a very grounded, rational person, I am in strong support of trading up for Suh.  However, the type of value we're talking about would make it nearly impossible.  It would involve a lot of players, because it would be impossible to get the package value through picks alone unless we traded our 1st this year, our 1st next year, and a 2nd or 3rd round pick.  We could package our 1st and 2nd and at least 3 players of mid round value.  I just don't see it happening unless the Rams get desperate to avoid the 1st pick's contract.

While I'm not convinced that Merling fits the mold that Parcells likes in the middle, and I think new DC Mike Nolan will toss out the schemes that asked Merling to get bigger and play inside, it is pure speculation on my part.  

Knight, you may be right about reaching for a NT in the draft, but keep in mind that last year when BJ Raji and Ron Brace entered the draft together last year I practically sold my kidneys in an attempt to convince people that Raji was the real deal and Brace was a pretender.  Raji will likely be the starter heading into 2010, as will Terrance Knighton, who the Dolphins really surprised me by not picking.  He was clearly the best value and the best true NT in the draft, IMO.  Had we not gotten beer goggles for Pat White, we would've drafted Sean Smith with our first 2nd round pick and Terrance Knighton with our second 2nd round pick.  Getting 3 defensive starters with our first 3 that would've been special.  But instead we draft a 4th string QB and the rest is history.
I still think Dan Williams would be a good pick if we traded down, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone picks him early. But there are good options later on in the draft like Torrell Troup (6'2", 310 lbs) and Boo Robinson (6'1", 298 lbs).

It will be interesting to see where Miami goes with the position.  Keep in mind that Buffalo now plans to switch to a 3-4 scheme (which should make Aaron Maybin very happy) so the AFC East is now the only division with an entirely 3-4 set of defenses, and thus we need to be on target with these projections more so than ever.  We may also have to reach a little for front 7 defenders.


  1. So I finally manned up and got a pick attached to the name... for those of you wondering that's my boy Lou Polite picking up the first down right there.

    Now on to what Knight wrote, I can say I absolutely love the idea of Merling, Starks, and Langford manning the line together and I like the idea even more when I think of putting Wake on the end in essentially what works out to be a hybrid DE/OLB. That would undoubtablely be 4 extremely large athletic guys trying to murder the opposing QB/RB on a consistent basis.

    Also, although I really like the idea of Merling developing into a legit Ratliff-esque NT, I feel even more certain in Starks ability to do so. Really, it's almost a shame he's as good as he is at DE...

  2. Yeah it's such a conundrum with Starks, isn't it?  He could definitely develop into a full-time nose tackle, but at the moment he seems better suited to DE. 

    But we had this issue last year as well and it seemed like the Dolphins were trying to get together a line of guys who could move around at any position.  Maybe they stick with that philosophy, but teams like the Patriots and Jets have been very successful with sticking to a more traditional approach (even though they like to move their NTs outside for a play or two every game) and I think Nolan is more likely to go more traditional.

  3. The Knight who says Ni!February 5, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    Nice! Obviously I don't need to say much because I said quite a bit. LOL

    Tin, you could be right. It's the accumulation of DEs that got me thinking.

    How did Terrance Knighton play this year, I didn't really focus on the Jags or him?

    I remember most scouts said that Aaron Maybin was better suited as an off the edge 4-3 DE and not a stand-up OLB in a 3-4. Supposedly he didn't do well in space and looked horrible in coverage with stiff hips. But who knows.

    It would be fun to have a NT named Boo.

  4. The Knight who says Ni!February 5, 2010 at 9:21 AM

    knowno, either Merling or Starks is moving to NT. I chose Merling because Starks had such a good year at RDE.

  5. The Knight who says Ni!February 5, 2010 at 9:25 AM

    The Jets actually do a lot of crazy things with their blitz packages. They don't really have true 3-4 OLBs, Pace and Thomas are more like 4-3 DEs and that's why they blitz their inside LBs Harris and Scott and DBs so much.

  6. Knighton was named a team captain as a rookie, that says a lot. I think he started all 16 games.  He had 4 tackles and a sack when we played them and the Jags helf us to 3.6 yds per carry.  3.4 if you take away the two reverses we ran.

  7. The Knight who says Ni!February 5, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    Wow, how did Knighton become a captain as a rookie? I'm not sure I ever heard of that before.

  8. The Knight who says Ni!February 5, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    What are we suppose to vote for up top, it's all black?

  9. Maybe he threatened to eat whoever didn't vote for him?

  10. The Knight who says Ni!February 5, 2010 at 10:47 AM


  11. The vote thing is fixed now.

  12. The Knight who says Ni!February 5, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    I see it now.

  13. <span>"What are we suppose to vote for up top, it's all black?"</span>

    *snicker*  I saw the same thing myself...started to say something and thought, nah, the Knight will do it! 

  14. Knight always complains when something is black....

  15. The Knight who says Ni!February 5, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    Hey... no I don't. I don't like reading War and Peace in knockout white or orange on a teal background.  :-P

  16. I'll keep that in mind for when I decide to buy the printing rights for War
    and Peace...

  17. so, tin.  what you are saying is when something is all black knight complains and herdfan just snikers.

    hey go to ask, now when i go to the SS using firefox and type in the comment box a spell checker comes up.  is this cause of firefox, something new on the ss or just my spelling is so bad it is just something O put on my ip address

  18. The Knight who says Ni!February 5, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    That's a good idea.  8-)

  19. The Knight who says Ni!February 5, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    ffr, I think it's the government that implemented the spell check on your browser only. It has something to do with conspiracies and chemtrails. LOL

  20. herdfan - only if it's a large 'War & Peace' sort of blackness.
    I think the spell check is either a new SS thing or an 'add-on' you have on
    your firefox. You can add all sorts of customizations on firefox.
    Yesterday I posted a comment on the SS blog and it didn't show up til an
    hour later. Really screwed up my timing because by the time my point was
    posted, about 30 people had already made my point for me, after I made my

  21. knight, cant be, the govt gave up spying on me after they opened up the 124,923 blow up doll i ordered.

  22. I didn't ask about spell check...leave me out of these petty disagreements....I'm all about the football!  lol

  23. For the record, I have always seen a red underline if a word is mis-spelled.  At least I think happens so rarely with me, I can't be sure!  lol  8-)

  24. The Knight who says Ni!February 5, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    That's a lot of blow up dolls. I hope they all didn't look the same. That would be boring.  ;)

  25. I saw a story somewhere this week about a new and improved blow up doll....don't ask me what was improved, I didn't read the

  26. Depends on what you're using them for.....would be a great way to scare the
    neighbours, paint them with glow in the dark war paint, and quietly inflate
    and place all of them in the neighbour's yard, then wait with camera until
    he leaves the house in the morning (obviously this would only work with
    someone who left for work early, like myself) and let the hijinx ensue...

  27. Well does anyone know if Merling took any snaps at NT this year?  Knight, all of that sounds like a good theory, and all these DEs either mean they're stockpiling to trade, or stockpiling to rotate.  It seems to me that a rotating versatile line would be the best way to go.  Everyone gets enthralled with these 330+ beasts but it makes more long term sense to go leaner/more durable.  I have a feeling we are just going to keep things in house.  Hard to see us making a big splash anywhere. 

  28. Regarding that poll up above, I think Cody was left on the NT tree a bit too long...he looks like he got over ripe and much too squishy. 

  29. The Knight who says Ni!February 5, 2010 at 1:33 PM


  30. The Knight who says Ni!February 5, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    They probably move on their own.

  31. The Knight who says Ni!February 5, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    Good one, herd.

  32.  hell Tin I posted on your site , shows up two hours after the fact.

  33. The Knight who says NiFebruary 6, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    Red Dog, I think NT by committee might be the way to go. Those guys take a pounding. If we can dress 6 quality DL for games, 2-3 who can take snaps at NT and 3-4 who can take snaps at DE we will be in good shape. We have quite a bit of talent on the DL. Merling and McDaniel might be the guys who can take snaps at both.

  34. McDaniels' size seems to cancel him out for the NT spot.  If you went just by size, you'd have McDaniels in at DE and Starks at NT.  Don't remember McDaniels in particular at the NT position this year, although I know he played....Do you guys recall how he did?  Was he a passing downs NT? 

  35. The Knight who says NiFebruary 6, 2010 at 2:33 PM

    McDaniels did play some NT in nickel and dime. His height and ability to bat down passes. He's also pretty athletic to chase. He's not an every down nose but in spots like I said with Fergy, Merling and/or Soliai. We'll find out where we go with Nolan and our personnel after FA and the draft.

  36. Hey TIN,has ALL the side-bar info been eliminated,(draft pks,archives etc,etc)??

    NONE of the stuff that used to run down the right-side of the page is coming-up on my end??!!

  37. I'd trade a bunch of veterans for SUH,but NOT ALL THOSE draft pks!!

  38. no, must be an issue on your end.

  39. Tin, I've got the same issue as 13kvFINS....there is nothing on the right side of your page. happened all last week as well.

  40. We Have Playmakers???February 8, 2010 at 8:21 AM

    IMO-Suh is BY FAR the best player coming out of the draft.  However, it is irrelevant.  Suh is a not even a "pipe dream" but a crack-pipe dream.  No way.  Is Suh even best suited to play NT in a 3-4 at the next level?  Not so sure on that either.  We still have too many holes to fill & clearly the strength of Parcells & Ireland has been in the draft. 

    I don't care how old Ferguson is & I don't care if he is coming off an injury--our best option at NT is still Ferguson by a long shot & b/c of that we need to re-up on him.   Although I'm intrigued by Dan Williams, I have not seen him play enough to be sold on him & if we stay at the Number 12 spot I'm not sure if he's going to be the best player available.  This draft is a little bit unusual since there are no real blue chip QB's or WR's so the top half of the first round will be heavy on defense (not so sure that McClain will make it out of  the top ten). The only guy that MIGHT have been a blue chip prospect was Bradford IF I saw him continue to pogress this season & IF he didn't get hurt.  Way too many if's....

    I don't see Merling as a NT.  Soliai is a back-up.  McDaniel didn't make the adjustment last year so why would it happen now & Starks has become our best DE.  IMO???  Need to draft a guy for Ferguson to mentor like Pennington did for Henne.

  41. We Have Playmakers???February 8, 2010 at 8:25 AM

    For the record since Dez Bryant missed the entire season due to disciplinary reasons, I don't consider him a blue chip prospect. 

  42. It wasn't because of his attitude it had something to do with talking to an agent.

  43. We Have Playmakers???February 8, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    It had something to do with an agent & also hanging out with Deon Sanders which I still don't understand.  Whatever he did made him ineligible for an entire season so the NCAA deemed it a pretty big deal.  I don't see Parcells making a first round investment in a kid that doesn't know right from wrong.  With that said, based on size & skill he is exactly the kind of WR that we need.  Who knows???

  44. Yeah "McDaniels didn't make the adjustment last year so why would it happen now & Starks has become our best DE"..............................You just answered your own question kind of.  Starks is our best DE and he's in his 2nd year in our system, the year McDaniels will be entering, so therefore that is why it would happen now...

  45. Does anyone think that if Turner cannot crack the WR rotation they might try him at TE?  He could beef up a little and become our version of Dallas Clark or at least Martin 2.0.  Primarily a pass-catching TE.....

  46. In all fairness to Dez the NCAA is very anal and what he did wasn't even a big deal.Still I would rather go defense anyway.

  47. He needs to work on his route running for that to happen.

  48. If he can't get off the line as a WR, not sure he would be any better as a TE with bigger bodies in there.

  49. Suh and Wilfork are crack pipe dreams.  Merling kind of disappeared this year but I think that's says more about Starks emergence vs. Merling's play.  However, perhaps they are working on developing him as a NT?  I wouldn't have a problem with him, Soliai and Fergy as our NT's (if he comes back).  If not, maybe Hampton could be our next Fergy?

  50. The Knight who says Ni!February 8, 2010 at 11:48 AM

    <p>I agree Fergy is our best option at NT for 2010. Dan Williams is a reach at #12. Some draft gurus are pushing him up their mock drafts because of teams switching to the 3-4 defense and he's considered to be a good NT prospect even though he's never played there. LOL
    </p><p>I've seen Williams ranked as low as the 30s.

  51. We Have Playmakers???February 8, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    Big Dawgg,

    IMO, both Merling & Langford need to improve.  I was more impressed with both of them in their rookie seasons BUT Starks has definitely elevated his game & I thought McDaniel did a good job for us when he was in the game.

    Interesting thought about Casey Hampton.  He's 32 & would be perfect for us but I don't expect the Steelers let him walk away.  If they can't settle on a deal I think the Steelers would slap the franchise tag on him b/c he's a very good if not great player.

  52. We Have Playmakers???February 8, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    Red Dog,

    First things first, we need to cut bait with Ginn.  The "experiment" has clearly failed.  Time to move on. 

    I think Hartline was/is a very nice surprise & I like his toughness.  After that we definitely need to find that big, physical WR.  Is that player Turner?  Well, if you read Henne's quotes about what the Dolphins need I'd say that we still don't have that guy on our roster yet.  I was very surprised that Turner didn't even get a chance to play last year.  After all he was a 3rd round pick & it's not like we have anyone with that kind of size other than him.

  53. The Knight who says Ni!February 8, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    Ginn still has more career TDs than any of our WRs. LOL

  54. Yeah, Ginn is a tough one.  Watching the Colts, their WRs are about his size (Wayne 6'/195), Garcon is even smaller.  For now I'll go with keeping him and adding someone else or hope for amazing emergence from the rest of the cast.  But I'm starting to get a little batty trying to think of what the Fins will do.  The conspiracy theorist in me wants to say that Henne's public request for a big WR could have been set up.  Our guys keep a crazy tight lid on media interactions.  Plus Henne went WR scouting with the staff last year, he's obviously "in".  How plausible is it that Henne purposely leaked that just to throw other teams off our path, mask our true intentions?  On the other hand, if it wasn't set up, it seems to openly admit Turner is a failure, and that everyone in-house wants a new WR, which kinda shows all our cards.....All in all, I got a freakin' headache and I just want the draft already so I don't have to think about this........

  55. I say don't let go of Ginny unless we make out like bandits in the trade.....

  56. We Have Playmakers???February 8, 2010 at 2:16 PM

    That's just sad.

  57. We Have Playmakers???February 8, 2010 at 2:50 PM

    Red Dog,

    Hmmm.  I never even considered that Henne might have been bluffing about wanting a big, physical WR.  After Parcells admitted in his Q & A that there is interest at a Number 1 WR I think it's just an obvious need.  In addition there's only one WR that fits the bill with a pick at Number 12 & that's Dez Bryant.   Therefore I'm not so sure who we'd be fooling since Parcells will not draft a player that just sat out a year (only played 2 college seasons) due to stupidity. 

    BTW--Garcon is 6' & weighs 210!!!!  Ted Ginn is 5'11 & even though he's listed at 180, I say he's more like 175.  But regardless of Ginn's size the kid had 38 catches & 1 TD catch in his third season & must have dropped at least 10 passes.  I'd take Garcon in a heart beat over Ginn & not b/c of size but b/c he can catch.  DeSean Jackson is more like Ginn in size & look at how good he is.  Ginn is clearly not the answer as a starting WR for a multitude of reasons.

    As for Turner, it's I think it's way too early to label him a "failure."  Maybe Henne's comments were meant to get into Turner's head & motivate him.  However, I do agree that the draft couldn't get here soon enough already.

  58. We Have Playmakers???February 8, 2010 at 2:55 PM

    A trade?  A trade for what?  LOL.  At best MAYBE a team takes a flier on Ginn for a 4th round pick. 

  59. Maybe it was Collie, at any rate there are WR in Ginn's size range that are very successful, my thought being he could progress and all the O's woes shouldn't be thrown on his shoulders....But yeah, after posting my conspiracy, I realized I need to get a life.  These guys do a good job on keeping everyone guessing, though...

  60. You can't tell the difference between Collie and Garcon?

  61. Good to know I got you to keep me sharp....Basically I glanced over the Colts WR depth chart once and saw a few guys Ginn's size, gave me a reason to try to like him for a little longer.

  62. TG'd be a SUPERSTAR IFFF PMANNING had been his QB for the last 3 yrs,
    in comparison to TGreen,CLemon,JBeck,and basically a rookie starter w'CHenne!!

    He had his career yr w'underarmed CPenne who came in a wk b/4 wk 1,
    while TG faced double coverage(for the most part of the yr),
    b/c there was no reason to fear any of the other WRs,or the deep ball for that matter!!

    Brees/Welker/Garcon/Collie would have never become who they've become soo fast with the surrounding decoy's"OUR"FINS have yet to upgrade to a feared level,(though I like the upsides of Bess/Hartline)!!

    I feel the CURRENT REGIME is on the right track,
    or @least I will w'a YOUNG STUD FA/EARLY RND ILB,AND #1 WR(so that TG/CH can exploit deep single coverage)!!
    I'll take an NT AND OLB/DE in FA or the 1st 3 rnds too!!   ILB,WR,NT,DE/OLB