QB Gus Frerotte — Veteran quarterback, should be an improvement over what the Dolphins had in 2004, based on his play in week one and the preseason. At 34, is obviously just a short term fix, until coach Nick Saban can bring in a permanent replacement. Smart QB, with a decent arm, but accuracy issues dogged him early in his career. Also, about as immobile as you’ll find at QB, meaning the line has to give him time to throw.
RB Ronnie Brown — Recent first round pick had a tremendous chance to show his stuff in this pro debut, but struggled in a win over Denver. It’s likely Brown is merely standing in until Ricky Williams, who looked fantastic in the pre-season, returns from his four-game suspension for the Dolphins.
FB Heath Evans — Came out of Auburn as a junior in 2001 and was drafted real high for a fullback. When the Seahawks drafted Evans in round 3, they thought they had a another Mike Alstott –runner, receiver, general offensive weapon. So far, that hasn’t happened and there is no evidence it will happen soon.
O-Line: This may’ve been the Dolphins worst unit in 2004 and a significant reason for their struggles last season. After one week, the line seemed decent. They struggled opening up holes for runners, but immobile QB Gus Frerotte wasn’t sacked against Denver, and the Dolphins came away with the league’s No. 1-ranked offense heading into the Jets game….Make no mistake about it, this is still a group with a lot to prove. The big name is former first round pick Vernon Carey, who starts at right tackle after a poor rookie season in 2004…..Journeyman Damion McIntosh holds down the fort at left tackle, until a better option can signed or drafted. Seth McKinney leads a group of inside lineman that are hardly special, but give honest efforts….This unit will be tested against the Jets front 4.
WR Chris Chambers–Former Wisconsin star has been the Phins top WR the last few seasons. At only 5′ 11″, Chambers is a speedy receiver that can beat defensive backs deep and rack up yards in bunches. Has never had a 1,000 yard season, but came into this season with a sterling 14.9 yard per catch career average.
WR Marty Booker — Brought in to jazz up Miami’s vertical game in 2004. Former Chicago Bears standout had a good game against Miami with 5 reception for 104 yards….Averaging only 12 yards per catch during his career, Booker is more of a possession receiver, but he has had two 1,000 yard seasons as a receiver.
WR Wes Welker — Perhaps the most versatile player in the NFL these days, coming off a 4 reception 60 yard game as the Dolphins 3rd WR….As a rookie in 2004, Welker displayed near Pro Bowl like ability as a punt returner and special teams coverage player. He also returned kicks and even doubled as Miami’s backup place kicker. As a kicker, he was 100% accurate, connecting on a 30 yard field goal and an extra-point. Welker had a 175 total yards against Denver last week.
WR David Boston — Once seen as a “prototype” for WR prospects. He was/is built like a hulk, yet ran like the wind….Since his early NFL days, however, a string of injuries and a rash of bizzare off-field incidents has turned into a weird footnote…Battling Welker for playing time as the Phin’s #3 WR.
TE Randy McMichael — Big, talented TE is a threat in the redzone and all over the field…Had a breakout season in 2004, snaring 73 receptions for 791 yards and 4 TD’s. Had 6 receptions week 1 against Denver. A talented athlete with size at 6′ 3″, 255 pounds. Generally fares well against the Jets.
DE Jason Taylor — Veteran defensive end, who has always used his quickness and speed to harass quarterbacks. Going into his 10th season, some wonder if his days in Miami are numbered, but he’s still very productive (9.5 sacks in 2004)….Will struggle a bit against elite OT’s, but the Jets don’t have an elite OT.
DE Kevin Carter — Former Pro Bowler with the Rams and Tennessee, Carter is an 11 year veteran trying to hold onto a starting spot with the Phins. At 305 pounds, may be best suited for DT, but has displayed the quickness to play DE in the NFL….Overall, Carter is a good “hold the fort” player, until a younger option is found.
DT Jeff Zgonina — Some actually list Zgonina behind Kansas City bust Vonnie Holliday as a starter, but that’s just cosmetic. Zgonina is clearly a player the Dolphins need this season, due to his tremendous run stopping abilities and high motor chasing the QB (8 sacks last two season — 5 in 2004 — is a great for a #2 or #3 DT). Has, in all honesty, been one of the most underrated players in the NFL in recent seasons….But at 35 years old, are his best days behind him? Zgonina is a player that struggled to find a place in the NFL until he was almost 30, but has been steady since.
DT Keith Traylor — Resident “fatman” for the Dolphins, who, along with Zgonina, can really plug the middle against the run…..Traylor is about 340 pounds, but can really move. Traylor is 36 years old, so he’s another veteran on a D-line that has a ton of experience….Has 2 career interceptions in 15 seasons–at almost 350 pounds, returned both over 60 yards!
DE Matt Roth — Was the top defensive player at the Senior Bowl last season. Was a round 2 steal for the Phins. Is listed as Carter’s backup, but seems more likely to take Taylor’s place at some point. Like JT, he’s sort of smallish for a DE, but has tremendous quickness….May be bested suited as a 3-4 OLB.
OLB Junior Seau — Another “older defender” for the Dolphins. At 36, Seau is no where close to the player he was in his prime with the Chargers. Look for former Bronco starter Donnie Spragan to push Seau for playing time this season, but neither is special at this point.
MLB Zach Thomas — Small, but quick Barney Rubble look a like is still going strong heading into his 10th NFL season. Former Pro Bowler had 14 tackles against Denver last week.
OLB Channing Crowder — Rookie from Florida, is the teams only defensive starter in the front 7 younger than 30….Intense, Ray Lewis clone, at his best….Lasted until round 3 of the draft, despite the obvious talent, because of a history of knee injuries and off-field issues. Could be a player to watch.
S Lance Schulters — Another 30-something player starting on defense. Former Hofstra star and native New Yorker, who has had a mixed career–great on-field performance, but a ton of medical issues, including a serious bout with Bell’s Palsey….Had a terrific career for Jeff Fisher’s crew in Tennessee. Hard-hitter, with a nose for the ball. Looked good week 1 against Denver, recording 8 tackles and snagging his 16th career pick….Tends to get Int’s in bunches, so watch out for that trend.
S Tebucky Jones — Native of Connecticut, was a former Patriots first round pick. Has all the size and speed needed to be an NFL star, but it doesn’t seem to translate on the field, despite the tremendous amount of money and playing time he’s received….Got off to a great start against Denver, however, recording 11 tackles in week 1….Has played fairly well against the Jets in his career, but really not a player the Dolphins expect to start longterm, unless he has a huge season. Huge knock on Jones, another 30-something player, is he makes too few “big plays”. Has only 6 picks and 2 sacks in 8 seasons.
CB Sam Madison — We don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but Madison is “another 30-something starter” for the Dolphins. Was an absoulute star in his 2nd to 4th seasons, recording 20 picks those 3 seasons….Coming off a poor 2004 season and will have to make due without former partner Patrick Surtain who bolted for Kansas City….Overall, good athlete with decent size, but needs to have a big season for the Dolphins to contend.
CB Reggie Howard — Former Carolina Panther is listed as a starter for now, but Saban clearly intends to hand that position to recent draft Travis Daniels, who played for him at LSU. Daniels, a versatile athlete with decent size, can also play some safety.
PK Olindo Mare — One of the better kickers in the NFL at 32 years old, who battled injuries in 2004. Was replaced by a couple different kickers when he was out last season, including wide receiver Wes Welker, who was a perfect 2 for 2 (1 FG; 1 XP).
P Donnie Jones –Huge favorite of esteemed JN poster Green Jets & Ham, played for Saban at LSU, where he was a major star….Averaged over 47 yards per punt last week against the Broncos. Is also a holder on kicks.
LS John Denney — Former BYU defensive end, who’s brother Ryan plays DE for the Buffalo Bills. Denney is a rookie snapper, who the Dolphins like, but have been shopping around for a veteran snapper….Keep an eye on this situation, as Denney still needs to show Saban he’s worthy of this spot long-term.