The 33-year old defensive end has been somewhat of a journey man over the course of his eleven year career. Over that span Douglas has seen three different tenures in Baltimore, starting 32 games for consistently one the best defenses in football, a brief stint in New Orleans, three years and 47 starts in San Francisco under head coach Mike Nolan, and this past season in New York, where he started twelve games for the Jets.
An impressive resume considering some of the teams and defenses he started for. With so much mileage under his belt, though, are the Dolphins just getting a washed up veteran on the last stand of his career? Based on his production a year ago, one could argue he’s still got it. Surprisingly, Douglas had one of his better seasons as a pro for the Jets, racking up the third-highest tackle total of his career (64), despite coming off the bench in four games.
Now, from a pass rush production, he’s surely fallen off quite a bit, even though he never had far to fall. Douglas has only accounted for 20.5 sacks in eleven years, with his career high coming in 2004 when he put up 5.5 quarterback take downs for the Ravens. Over the past two seasons, though, he’s only managed 1.5 sacks, both coming in 09′.
But, really, that doesn’t mean much. As a 3-4 defensive end, the primary goal is to stop the run and allow the pass rush production to come from the outside linebackers. The Dolphins did get some production from their defensive ends last year, as Randy Starks led all 3-4 types with 7.0 sacks, and Kendall Langford threw in another 2.5. But if Douglas can effectively maintain his ability to stuff the run, he will find a home on this defense.
Whether that be a rotating role, much like that of Phillip Merling’s a year ago, or the starting job. The latter isn’t likely, though. Make no mistake, this is Jared Odrick’s job to lose. The Dolphins want to throw Odrick into the fire in the same way they did with the rookie corners last year. He was considered the best five technique defensive end in the draft, he has the run-stuffing skills to translate effortlessly to the scheme, and possess some pass rush ability that could contribute to an interior pass rush.
If he doesn’t turn heads in camp, the Dolphins could start the season with Douglas opposite Langford, and gradually increase Odrick’s reps each week until he’s eventually ready for the starting job. In the event he flat out disappoints, though, Miami now has a backup plan that was briefly absent with Merling’s situation. Douglas is more than capable of stepping in as the starter, and would prevent the run defense from falling apart, which could have been a reality under the same circumstances with no depth behind Odrick and Langford.
And let’s not forget the way Miami used their trio at defensive end last year. Starks and Langford were outstanding, but still conceded 376 snaps to Merling, which in turn kept everyone fresh. That’s why Douglas projects to have a big role, regardless if he’s the temporary starter or the man on the rotation.