The Dolphins have been extremely proactive on both offense and defense. We have welcomed a sea of new faces, both on the field and on the staff. We snagged the defensive prize of free agency, and brought Brandon Marshall to town. We’ve added one of the great defensive minds around in Mike Nolan. There is indeed much to be excited about. Yet strangely Miami is walking head first into the season with precious little hope for big plays on special teams.
The departure of Ted Ginn will be hardly noticed on offense, but he did demonstrate how important a big play on special teams can be. Five days ’til Buffalo and there they are at the top of the depth chart, Davone Bess and Patrick Cobbs, the least dangerous kick return duo in the NFL.
To his credit, Bess isn’t horrible at it. He’s simply not very good. Davone, is a monster slot receiver, no doubt. However, he was the 21st best punt returner in the league last season. He has fielded 49 punts as a pro, with a stunning 27-yard return as his shining special teams moment.
Barring something miraculous, Patrick Cobbs will be among the worst returners in the league. His lifetime kick return average would tie him for 31st in the league in ’09. That was before he tore his ACL. Cobbs ran a pedestrian 4.68 40 at the NFL Combine, five years ago, before he was heading into his late 20s, and before he tore his ACL. Nolan Carroll may not have broken a long one in his nine returns this preseason, but he certainly outperformed Cobbs’ average. Not to mention Carroll has serious wheels (40 in the high 4.3s).
Last year we returned 75 kicks, and 33 punts. So we figure to have about a hundred special teams opportunities to extend a lead, respond to an opponent’s score, greatly improve field position, or set the tone for a game. If this depth chart remains as is, we’re waving the white flag in an area that could otherwise provide our Dolphins with massive, game-altering plays (Side Note: Both Clifton Smith and Stefan Logan are interviewing for jobs right now, the #1 and #6 kick returners in the league).
Sorry for a glass half-empty article as the season looms, but this one has The Bottlenose mystified. How can we let Ted Ginn’s departure actually cost us? If Cobbs is our best answer, it will.