- WR Hartline cut after 6 seasons WR Gibson was also released
- Mike Tannenbaum hired... ...as Dolphins' executive VP of football operations
- Philbin retained Coach Philbin was given a contract extension
- Fins season ends on low note Jets down the Fins to end their season 8-8
Vonta Leach matters for 5 reasons
Today’s NFL is all about mismatches in the passing game, which calls for today’s FB to possess TE-like versatility in addition to their blocking abilities. The days of Sam Gash, William Henderson, and Moose Johnston… are long gone.
So….I never thought I’d write an article about a blocking Fullback. But I am.
I’m banging on the table. Vonta Leach is the low-hanging fruit that Joe Philbin and Mike Sherman need to complete this offense for the next 2-3 seasons.
My reasons are 5-fold:
1) The Player.
Calling an NFL player “THE BEST” at his position is usually subjective. Here? It’s conclusive. Only 3 players have made the AP All Pro Team in each of the last 3 seasons: LB Patrick Willis, G Jahri Evans, and FB Vonta Leach. PFF also ranked him as the #1 FB in the NFL in both 2011 and 2012, the only player to hold the top spot in consecutive years at his position for their site. The ultimate compliment to Leach, however, is that the Ravens tried feverishly to retain him in an off-season where 8 starters were lost from their Super BowlXLVII winning roster.
2) Without Leach, the Dolphins look like a track team on offense.
Don’t get me wrong: I love the additions of Wallace and Keller. But allow me to play devil’s advocate here in asking this question: will Sherman’s offense struggle in the Red Zone and in short-yardage situations? The Dolphins lack a sledgehammer in backfield, and there isn’t a WR or TE over 6’2 in the group of Wallace, Hartline, Keller, and Gibson. Leach will add a missing power element to the backfield.
3) Better Backfield = Improved Playaction.
Defenses must respect the running game first and foremost for the play action to be effective. Whether or not Lamar Miller is a full-time back remains to be seen, but we know this: he can turn a 5 yard run into a 50-yard TD at the blink of an eye. A speedy Miller hiding behind Leach forces opposing defenses to commit another safety into the box, which leaves Wallace, Hartline, and Keller matched up in 1-on-1 situations quite often.
This word is thrown around too loosely in professional sports these days. But Leach is a different type of leader; he wouldn’t have survived in the NFL with his limited tools if this weren’t the case. Super Bowl XLVII MVP WR Jacoby Jones, Leach’s teammate with both the Texans and Ravens, recently referred to Leach as a “big brother” to him. I’m sure Ray Rice and Arian Foster would agree.
5) Intensifies competition at FB and TE.
TE’s Charles Clay and Michael Egnew walked onto the 53-man roster last summer because of their youth and upside. 2013 is a different story. If signed, Leach is a lock to make the roster, as is Dustin Keller and Dion Sims at TE. This would set up an interesting 5-way competition between Clay, Egnew, Evan Rodriguez, Jovorskie Lane, and Kyle Miller for 1-2 roster spots at FB and/or TE.
Vonta Leach continues to take his sweet time in deciding where to play Fullback in 2013. I think he has earned that right.
Thanks for reading,
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