Looking at the roster of the Miami Dolphins week two opponent, you cannot help but to notice there are two former Fins starting on the Colts offensive line, center Sam Satele and RG Donald Thomas. On defense, former Dolphins Erik Walden starts at OLB. And let’s not forget about Vontae Davis who’s penciled in as a starting cornerback.
It’s not hard to look around other NFL teams and see many former Dolphins starting and contributing to their new squads. In many cases these were players that were drafted by the Dolphins and were let go for one reason or another. In the case of Vontae Davis, at least the Dolphins managed to get a second round pick for him, so one cannot be too upset about that. It’s unrelated, but how is Anquan Bolden only worth a sixth rounder while Vontae Davis is good for a second round pick? Is Jeff Ireland a genius or is John Harbaugh a moron? But I digress….
This is one of those sensitive subjects that bring out the Fire Jeff Ireland crowds and other disgruntled constituents of the Dolphins fan base. Nothing bothers a Dolphins fan more than the “Wes Welker Syndrome.” Having a former Dolphins player be picked up by the Patriots and experience success under Bill “Darth Vader” Belichick is one of those bitter pills that’s hard to stomach. Every time I hear of Wes Welker’s feats and his 100 + catch seasons I cannot help but cringe. If only tails into a narrative on how the Dolphins are incompetent, how Jeff Ireland is the cause of everything evil in this world, and that Belichick has made a deal with the devil (this part is probably true). Ever notice how every year he looks more and more like an evil being from Star Wars – the dour, sour, evil coaching genius with the hoodie.
Now that Wes Welker has moved on to Denver, Dolphins fans can switch their obsession to Rob Ninkovich and his exploits with the Patriots. Truth of the matter is that Ninkovich was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the fifth round (135th overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft. He was claimed off waivers by the Miami Dolphins on September 7, 2007 and finished the season with two tackles, not the kind of performance that raised many eyebrows. He was converted to outside linebacker when the Dolphins switched to a 3–4 defense in 2008, but he was released by the team on August 31 and re-signed to the practice squad on September 3. On November 20, he was released to make room for linebacker Erik Walden. The New England Patriots signed Ninkovich on August 2, 2009 and he made the Patriots' 53-man roster that year. The rest is as they say, is history. And in case you’re wondering about Erik Walden, yes he’s the started for the Indianapolis Colts this week.
And in case Rob Ninkovich doesn’t rile your aqua and orange faithfulness, we can always start projecting on how good UFA AJ Francis will be for the Patriots for years to come. As if there was any kind of shortage of stud defensive lineman on the Dolphins squad this year.
Now in acknowledgment to this Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, here’s a synopsis of the ex-Dolphin players that will be lining up against their former team at Lucas Oil Field this Sunday afternoon.
Vontae Davis will be remembered more for his infamous line on Hard Knocks “I wanna call my grandma,” than for anything he did on the field. Davis was the Dolphins first round pick (25th overall) and was supposed to be the foundation in Miami’s secondary for years to come with fellow second rounder Sean Smith. Davis signed a five-year deal with guarantees north of $7 million. Although he boasted an impressive rookie season finishing with 53 tackles, four interceptions, and 11 pass deflections, he never lived up to his lofty draft status and potential. On August 26, 2012, Davis was traded to the Indianapolis Colts for a second-round draft pick.
Sam Satele was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the second round (60th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft. He played college football at Hawaii. As a rookie in 2007, he started all four preseason games and all 16 regular season games at Center. He was selected to the all-rookie team by the Dallas Morning News, Satele again started all 16 games playing center and guard late in the season. In the 2009 offseason, the Dolphins signed free agent center Jake Grove, prompting speculation Satele could moved to right guard. Instead, the Dolphins traded him to the Oakland Raiders on March 23, 2009 in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft and a swap of picks in the fourth round. On March 21, 2012, Satele signed with the Indianapolis Colts to replace long-time incumbent Jeff Saturday at center.
OK so maybe he wasn’t waived or cut, but a sixth-round pick for a second rounder is almost the same as cutting him. But give credit where credit is due, Jeff Ireland drafted Mike Pouncey in the first round of the 2010 draft, and barring injury, he could be on his way to living up to lofty standards of the greats Larry Little and Dwight Stephenson.
Donald Thomas (OL) As much as some Dolphins fans want to make out Thomas to be some gem that got away, the truth is he’s more of a journeyman than a top notch offensive lineman. Drafted in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL draft (195th pick) and made his NFL debut on September 7, 2008 against the New York Jets. Thomas sustained a Lisfranc fracture and was placed on season-ending injured reserve on September 9. He was released by the Dolphins at the start of the 2010 NFL season. After signing with the Detroit Lions in 2010, and playing a couple of games for the Patriots during the 2011 season, Thomas is now a starter with the Indianapolis Colts.
Erik Walden (LB) is another interesting ex-Dolphin we will be facing this weekend. And although he stuck around with the Dolphins for three years (2009-11), he was originally signed as a free agent by the Dallas Cowboys on July 22, 2008. Walden was claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Chiefs on August 31, 2008. On November 19, the Chiefs waived Walden. He was then claimed off waivers by the Miami Dolphins on November 20, 2008 when the team waived linebacker Rob Ninkovich to make room for him on the roster. He was waived by the Dolphins in 2010 and played with the Packers from 2010-2012. He signed with the Indianapolis Colts on March 12, 2013.
As far as I’m concerned the Miami Dolphins have upgraded in all of these positions. Everyone can agree that Mike Pouncey is one of the premier centers in the league, and that we’re not missing Vontae Davis at the corner position. Our outside linebackers Koa Misi and Philip Wheeler are better options than Erik Walden. And last, Donald Thomas is not a better player than John Jerry. On paper, the Dolphins are the better team, except maybe for the Luck factor.