During the 2013 offseason the Miami Dolphins made a splash in free agency by signing highly coveted young free agent linebacker Dannell Ellerbe to take over the middle of the defense. Ellerbe was the understudy of future hall of famer Ray Lewis in the Baltimore defense. The signing gave many dolphins fans hope for a bright future for Ellerbe and the Dolphins young defense. The Dolphins then cut veteran captain middle linebacker Karlos Dansby to make room for their new expensive linebacker. Ellerbe was quite the letdown at the center of the defense in his first year as the Dolphins middle backer leading the Fins to a 24th rank against the run and the 21st ranking in yards allowed. It is hard to comprehend when the Dolphins defensive line is composed of two pro bowlers, the third overall pick in the 2013 draft and a linebacking core that the dolphins spent nearly 50 million dollars to build. Many looked to the 2014 NFL draft to solve the linebacker problem but the Dolphins only used their 5th round pick (the 171st selection overall) to grab Montana linebacker Jordan Tripp. Which didn't give any answers to question marks on the Dolphins defense. The Dolphins now look to the 2014 offseason to make changes along there defense. In the early stages of OTAs the fins made the first big change by moving four year veteran outside linebacker Koa Misi to the middle linebacker position and moving Dannell Ellerbe to a more natural outside linebacker.
|Photo Courtesy of Naples Photos|
Misi was drafted by the Dolphins in the 2nd round of the 2010 NFL draft as a defensive end out of The University of Utah. Misi received all conference first team honors as a defensive end, but was later drafted as pass rushing outside linebacker. Misi has gone far beyond his expectations at the linebacker position. He has been one of the most consistent contributors on the Dolphins defense the past four years. He is especially good against the run and is known as one of the best clean tacklers on the Dolphins defense. Misi possesses all the skills to become a great middle linebacker. He is 6’3, 254 pounds which is slightly bigger than Ellerbe. He is a very fundamentally sound football player that is always around the ball whether its taking on a block and clogging up the front seven or burying the opposing teams running back limiting any yards after contact. But, Misi will need more than just the physical qualities of the Mike linebacker position to the lead the Fins defense.
With Misi’s new role as the middle linebacker he will be the quarterback of the defense responsible for a lot more than just clogging up the middle of the football field. Misi will be in charge of relaying plays from defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle to the field. He will also have to make sure everyone in the front seven is in the exact right position for the offensive unit across the line of scrimmage. Misi will have to stare into Tom Brady’s eyes and try his best to read what he has planned for his offense. Misi will have to rely on his instincts to be able to sift through all the commotion pre-snap to get his defense lined up correctly. Misi has shown the ability to adapt over his football career with moving from defensive line to linebacker and now to middle linebacker. Misi’s high football IQ from playing all over the field will come in handy in this position change.
Misi has shown a great attitude that is very open to switching positions and taking on the middle linebacker roll, which reflects back to his very high character. This gives Dolphins fans hope that Misi can man the middle of the field and play a great leadership role on this Dolphins team. Which is something the defense lacked last year. He will be the voice of the defense. Misi was a team captain at the college level. He will now have to speak up and demand respect from the rookies to the veterans. Misi will not have to do this on his own, he will have the input of new linebackers coach Mark Duffner who last season helped develop middle linebacker Paul Posluszny into a pro bowler for the Jacksonville Jaguars in his seventh year.
The Miami Dolphins don't have much to lose with this position change, we are still in the early stages of the switch. But something has to change in the interior of the dolphins defense. With all the money dedicated to the linebacker position the Dolphins must see some production or players will start getting cut. Koa Misi is one consistent bright spot on the Dolphins defense that would be a great solution to the Dolphins defensive problems if this position change is a success. Lets all hope Koa Misi is the answer.