Team Unit Analysis | FinHeaven - Miami Dolphins Forums

Team Unit Analysis


Practice Squad
Feb 29, 2004
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I'm bored, like everyone else on this board, so I thought I'd offer my analysis of each unit, rather than individual player, on the team. This gives a little different perspective of the Dolphins and may shed a different light as far as which players Saban may be looking at in the draft.

Offensive Line

This unit, in my opinion, was the weakest link and the ultimate downfall for Wannstedt. After his first year in which the unit performed very well, the line never again reached that level. Granted, Ricky gained 1800 yards a couple of years ago, but it was mostly Ricky and not the line that made that happen.

The apparent theme for Saban, in an effort to rebuild the line that performed miserably in 2004, is "more is better." He has collected a rather large group of tackles, including St. Clair, Pape, McDougal, McIntosh, Carey (have I missed anyone) to rebuild from the outside - in.

Both Linehan and Saban favor the road graders and power game, and I think that is exactly what they have in this group. Don't be fooled by Linehan's 3 WR sets and complex passing game, his offense is still contigent on the Dolphins having a respectable running game. I believe the goal this year is to have McIntosh and McDougal to start at both tackles, ensuring that the Dolphins will at least be proficient in run blocking. McIntosh will have a better year, due to his familiarity with Houck and the fact that he is healthier. St. Clair is the perfect backup who can play virtually any position. I think Carey moves inside and Pape may spend another year on the practice squad, depending on how well he does.

The interior will be anchored by Jeno James, who will bounce back from a sub-par year and once again become a superior run blocker with adequate pass-blocking skills. Rex Hadnot showed great promise as a RG last year, but is reportedly 350 lbs - that will not impress the new coach. I think Carey will win the RG position and Hadnot becomes the backup.

The center position is intriguing, to say the least. I believe McKinney, maybe more than any other lineman, was victimized by poor coaching. McKinney was a great center in college; nothing like the guy we saw last year. I think McKinney will be the most improved player and bounce back with a decent year. I personally believe Wade Smith will be cut. If he can't handle 260 lb DE's, how can he handle 320 DT's? Drafting an o-lineman on the first day is very likely.


As a group, I believe our QB's are decent. Feeley is not a great practice player and will frustrate his coaches to no end. He did show us though that under decent coaching (Jim Bates), he has talent, tenacity, and a drive to win. Frerotte will push him hard, but in the end Saban knows that Feeley is his best option and he needs him to succeed. Sage continues to be a great 3rd QB, but Saban will no doubt draft a QB in the mid-rounds to cover himself. Saban will develop a few more gray hairs with this unit over the course of the season (particularly AJ), but I think he will drag Feeley through it with reasonable success.


The vacuum created by Ricky has evaporated and reality is now upon us. Ricky will NOT play football this year and we are wasting our time talking about him. Closure is a good thing. WIthout a doubt a first day pick will be spent on a RB. Thank goodness this is a deep year for RB's. I think Ronnie Brown at #2 makes the most sense, because with Ronnie you get a lot for your money. You get a great receiver that will create mismatches, a big, fast, powerful running back, and a great blocker. His value and great attitude is the main reason I think he should be our first pick. Suddenly, with Brown, Morris, Minor, Gordon, etc this unit is transformed from a major weakness to a major strength.


This group currently lacks leadership. For many reasons, no one has stepped up and taken over. It's time for Chris Chambers to say this is my unit and we will win games for this team. Marty Booker is an excellent #2 receiver and will gladly support Chris. McMichael and Ronnie Brown create mismatches and opportunities for Chambers and Booker. I would still like to see another tall receiver added (wouldn't Edwards or Williams be nice) to enhance our red zone opportunities, perhaps Thompson can build on the improvement we saw from him last year. A WR in the mid rounds should be drafted.

I'll add TE's to this group. I think Linehan will be more effective with receivers than any other unit. I think you'll see big improvement from Donald Lee and McMichael should have a pro bowl year.

Defensive Line

This unit scares me. I am happy we picked up Carter and Holliday, but Holliday is limited and Carter has hit the dreaded 30's. This is an old, slow unit. Timbo continues to have back problems and Chester's knee still bothers him. Both are injury prone and let's face it... neither guy, especially Timbo, may contribute this year. In fact, Bowens may not even be able to play at all. Jason will continue to dominate and David Bowens should be solid. I'm not as excited as other people about the d-line. Could you imagine if Bowens retires and Jason has a lengthy injury? I expect Saban will draft 2 defensive linemen (DT and DE) to add some much needed youth.


Again, this unit is graying around the temples. Junior is 36, Zach is now in the dirty 30's, and the rest of this group is mediocre. We know what we have with Spragan, but this is the year we find out about Eddie Moore. Pope is nice backup. If everyone stays healthy, this unit will be fine, but don't be surprised if you see a late season swoon. Not enough talent and youth to keep this group strong the whole season. A mid round (3rd or 4th) pick is also a possiblity for this unit.

Defensive Backs

Patrick will be missed a great deal, but with Madison, Poole, Edwards, and Howard there should be enough talent, especially in Saban's system, to be a very solid group.

The safety position is a very different story. I can't think of one player that you can project as a solid starter. Tillman has never proven anything yet. Bell cannot stay off the IR list and Tebucky is now a 30 year old journeyman who can tackle, but is not a skilled cover back. Safety should be a priority in the draft. We could take one as early as round 2 (if we get the pick from KC).

Special Teams

Thankfully, Saban kept Armstrong as the Special Teams Coach from the Wannstedt regime. In great turmoil, Armstrong produced some very respectable special team players. Wes Welker, the fan's choice from last year, will continue to be a solid return man. I think Saban will, however, add a speedy guy from the draft, to help with return duties. Cover teams will be excellent - the Dolphins are stocked with good special team players and Armstrong will have them ready. It appears Saban may stick with Mare and Turk one more year. I would like to see Mare bounce back and have the year he is capable of.

In summary, there are glaring weaknesses on defense, especially if injuries beset the d-line and linebackers. The offense is a work in progress, but may end up being a very good unit by season's end. The defense, however, is hold your breath and pray the old guys stay healthy kind of unit. That said, this looks like about an 8-8 team to me. With a little luck and good health, we may reach 9-7.
can you zip this analysis and email it to coach Saban please? Good, in-depth and descriptive analysis. I would say I agree with pretty much all of it! I do think we should have kept Sullivan around for one more year though. I think he was a big part of Thompson's improvement.
damn man, what a huge nice you earned my respect :rolleyes:
i agree with almost everything but the ricky situation, I'm not so sure he won't come back
Thanks phinadict, but I doubt Saban would be impressed. I agree with you that keeping Sullivan would have been nice, but if you remember there was a lot of behind the scenes politics and backbiting last year. Saban had to clean house and start over, because the team was divided between Trestman, Sullivan, and Collier. Believe me, Collier did not resign because of health. Sullivan is a great coach, but he has a huge ego, and would not have fit in well with Linehan. Besides, Linehan has had his own success.
Good post. However, it makes me wish we had two picks in every round.
Ricky is gone. I assure you he won't be playing football for anyone this year. The best thing the Dolphins can do is put Ricky behind them and move on.

I agree that Saban is looking to trade out of the #2 spot, because as you can see, we need more picks. There are numerous holes to fill. I would hate to lose Ronnie Brown though. It's not often you can draft a triple threat like Ronnie.
I hate it when great posts like this get five responses and the stupid ones get limitless responses.
Great post. I agree with much of it. I'll add my two cents.

I have a feeling the O Line will improve. I think Hadnot and Wade Smith may see time at center.

As for the D-Line, Holliday and Carter are upgrades over Jay Williams and Bryan Robinson. I am not so worried. My biggest concern on defense is safety.

On offense I would address the question mark at the QB position by surrounding him with the most talent as possible. Draft RB and maybe even a WR with the 3 (or an acquired 2)
Wow....this post sucked. Could not disagree more. Just kidding Dad. I agree with all that. We do need another WR, particularly one with height and decent speed. As for the line, hopefully Houck is some sort of magician. Hopefully we will see some real infusion of youth after the draft with the picks and free agents.

P.S. Does anyone know about the draft day party that the Dolphins always have. If so please let me know. Im also thinking all the South Florida Finheaven members should gather for it and have a day of Dolphin football.
Nice thread man... I pretty much agree with all of it.

I think you are a bit too worried about or safteys... Jones will do just fine at his natural position... FS should be easy to fill VIA draft or with one of out current players..

Man, I can't wait for the draft! I hope we get to trade down with value...
Good Post. I agree with some things and question others. Start with the questions.

1. How can you guarantee that Ricky won't be back. I'm not saying he will, but considering everything said by Saban and his disussions with team leaders, it is impossible to GUARANTEE that Ricky doesn't play next year. I have a feeling he will but in no way would I go out and say he definitely will or won't. Unless you're privy to some info not available to Saban or the media, you can't guarantee anything regarding Ricky. It's just an opinion.

2. Your assertion that McIntosh will have a better year. Well he can't have a worse year. But, Houck was the one that was willing to let him go in the first place. Houck knows McIntosh's abilities better than any of us and yet he's moving both Carey and St. Clair over to compete for the LT position. That doesn't indicate much confidence in McIntosh's abilities to me. I agree there's still a good shot he starts at LT but personally I would put the odds at 60/40 in favor.

3. I disagree about McKinney bouncing back and being the most improved O-Lineman. I hope it's the case, but I doubt it.

Other than that I agree with you regarding the QB's, WR's, DL, Linebackers, DB's, and special teams.

Regarding the WR's, I think you are dead on about Chambers needing to step up and lead the group. However, I don't think he has that type of personality. This is where a guy like Matt Jones can come in (I know many of you think he's way overhyped but just keep in mind the specific skills we need to complement our current group). We need a big guy who can be a red zone threat. Well everyone that has seen him play has unanimously stated that he WILL be a red zone threat. Some disagree about his ability to excel at the other parts of being a WR because of his inexperience (route running etc.) but no one questions how dangerous he will be in the red zone. Additionally, he fits the second thing we need; a leader. When he's on the field, he's a baller, period. Saban's quote and just watching how he plays makes it clear that on the field he is a true leader (through actions not words).

Again, great post - it was a real joy to read.
I forgot the safety's. As Dan said, I think you are underrating T. Jones at Strong Safety. The free safety position is definitely a weakness and that position is ever more important now with the emphasis of the 5 yard rule. Corners need more help and we need to find a FS.
Thank you for your compliment CaneAddict. I enjoyed your comments. You made some good points, especially the comment about Houck knowing McIntosh and yet inviting Carey to compete at LT. I think he is simply doing his best to create some competition, but in the end I think McIntosh wins the position.

As for my son, what are you doing up after your bedtime?
Also, I don't want to spoil anyone's fun regarding discussion of Ricky, but honestly how can you put any stock in a guy who's 30 lbs underweight, wandering around India, who has never expressed any desire whatsoever to return to the NFL? I say put a fork in him....he's done.
BrazForPhins said:
damn man, what a huge nice you earned my respect :rolleyes:
i agree with almost everything but the ricky situation, I'm not so sure he won't come back

I agree. ricky keeps commenting on how he misses playing pro football
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