Update: The signing has been made official by The Dolphins and will wear #47
There was a considerable amount of remodeling for Jeff Ireland to do on the offensive side of the football. Most of our attention in the offseason was on which pieces could turn things around and put more points on the board to help out a top five defense.
But why not try and bridge the gap from a very solid defense to a great one if there is an available upgrade?
Boy oh boy did the Dolphins just find an upgrade. An upgrade that could improve Mike Nolan’s unit enough to be mentioned with the likes of the Ravens and the Jets as one of the truly elite defenses in the league.
When Miami cut Channing Crowder earlier this evening, it was clear that Ireland was up to something. There are clearly deficiencies in Crowder’s game, but you just don’t go getting rid of decent starters for no reason.
It didn’t take long for news to break that the Dolphins have come to terms with linebacker Kevin Burnett. It’s reportedly a four-year deal worth approximately $10 million in guaranteed cash.
Burnett was decent in his first five seasons, but he took his game to another level in 2010. How does replacing Crowder, who was seemingly allergic to making game-changing plays, with a guy who put up 95 tackles, 6.0 sacks, 5 pass breakups, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and a touchdown, sound? It sounds like a defense that was already void of any considerable holes just got a whole lot better to me. By comparison, Crowder only managed 2.5 sacks, 1 interception, and 3 forced fumbles in the six years he spent with the Dolphins.
Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby project to form one of the top inside linebacker duos in the league. Both are known for their big-play ability as well, meaning the tandem should produce their share of game-changing plays in 2011.
You probably have to consider the Dolphins’ entire linebacker corps one of the league’s best now as well, contingent on Koa Misi’s ability to take strides in year two, with one of the fiercest pass rushers in the league in Cameron Wake at outside linebacker.
The Dolphins made sure to keep intact a deep and dominant defensive line as well, giving the front seven the potential to do dangerous things this season. Oh yeah, the secondary figures to be fairly special too with Vontae Davis and Sean Smith continuing their emergence as one of the game’s top cornerback tandems.
You know how the old saying goes, “defense wins championships.” I suppose that’s why they call it “old” because everybody knows quarterbacks do in today’s game. I think that saying has digressed to “great defenses can take you to the playoffs.” That’s where the Dolphins could be headed if they can find an identity on offense.