A player that saw his tackling production cut in half last season, has as many game changing plays in his five-year career as many do in one season, has made a fool of himself in the past with his mouth, and is coming off a season ending Lisfranc injury, shouldn't be a lock to start, right? Well the perception among many is that Channing Crowder, despite coming off the worst statistical season of his career, is still penciled in as the starter next to newcomer Karlos Dansby.
Crowder has been solid in the past, don't get me wrong, and if he can return to the high-level of play that saw him rack up 103 tackles in 06' and 113 in 08', he should be the starter, no doubt. And we shouldn't underestimate his value against the run either. In the four games Crowder missed the last two seasons, the run defense simply fell apart.
In those four contest, the Dolphins run-D yielded 154.4 rushing yards a game, and a staggering 5.1 yards per carry. Now, that may speak volumes about how horrible the linebackers were behind him, but it's been clear, nonetheless, that Crowder makes the run-D better. Still though, do his struggles in the other elements of the position make him vulnerable to former Charger Tim Dobbins?
Because just what we saw with the naked eye, doesn't justify how bad Crowder was in coverage and blitzing a year ago. I think Pro Football Focus really puts things into perspective, by ranking Crowder's miserable 09' campaign 49th out of the 54 inside linebacker's listed. As expected, Crowder received a positive 2.4 rating against the run, but his -5.6 coverage rating, and his -1.6 pass rush rating, really sum up how one-dimensional he is.
Enter Tim Dobbins, who has brought over in that draft day trade with San Diego, that more notably saw the Dolphins swap their 12th overall selection for the Chargers' 28th and 40th overall picks. He has been described as a "core special teams" player by Jeff Ireland, but when you factor in how Ireland's comments really mean nothing, how Dobbins put up three more tackles than Crowder in 418 less snaps, and the fact that Dobbins has obviously impressed this offseason, which can be seen in his recently signed extension, it's easy to see why he could push Crowder for the starting job.
So let's take a look at the film, to see what exactly the Dolphins are getting with Dobbins. Click read more to see the video and some analysis.
Analysis: Saw a lot of good things from Dobbins. It seems like this clip was constructed as more of highlight reel, with no low-lights, but still though, pretty impressive stuff. He was constantly flowing to the ball, looked more athletic and fast in space than Crowder, and he showed some play making potential with a sack, another near sack, an interception, and that violent hit that flew the ball about fifteen yards behind the line of scrimmage. The only thing I can say is that he often forfeited too much ground when he was locked up with a blocker, but it wasn't like he was getting man-handeled or anything. I think it's too early to start making any predictions, but I don't think it would wise to sleep on this guy, and I would love to see an open competition.