While the Dolphins re-stocked their coaching shelves with Bill Lazor in place of Mike Sherman as offensive coordinator, one curious change was made for them with the moving on of linebackers coach George Edwards to the Minnesota Vikings. Edwards served two stints in Miami with two separate coaching staffs and had experience coaching linebackers in a 3-4 defense, with the Bills, Dolphins, and at Florida with Urban Meyer
In 2012, Joe Philbin curiously tabbed Edwards to lead linebackers under defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle who was planning on matching Philbin's wishes and bringing his 4-3 defense to Miami. In 2012, the Dolphins linebackers Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby shined under Edwards' coaching and Coyle's leadership. After an offseason of changes by then GM Jeff Ireland, the Dolphins abandoned Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby in search of younger and more athletic up and coming linebackers in Phillp Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe.
This past season, both linebackers: Wheeler and Ellerbe were not as advertised. Overall Wheeler received a -20.8 grade and Ellerbe received a -16.8 grade from Pro Football Focus. Likewise, versus the run both graded out at -16.8 and -17.0 respecitively. All in all, Wheeler and Ellerbe were out of place, out of position, and over priced.
This fact that the Dolphins line backing duo performed incosistently, is not lost on most fans who have called for Kevin Coyle's head as a result of his defense that took a tumble in giving up rush yards per game (124.9). However, Coyle has spent the past couple of years playing players who have been essentially out of place. Case and point, the drafting of Dion Jordan who is listed as a defensive end. However, as a result of surgery to replace a labrum tear, is it possible that he was rushed back by the coaches and no where near ready to play? Could it be possible that the missed time in the field during training camp hindered Jordan's development and growth this season so much so that coach Kevin Coyle had to put him in pass situations only to take advantage of his overall athleticism?
While the questions remain, and the coaching positions are influx, look for head coach Joe Philbin to find a LB coach that can take and develop the players that are on the roster. It's clear that given the cost of both Wheeler and Ellerbe in free agency, a new GM could choose to cut the chord on both linebackers and start fresh with newly drafted linebackers or go after his preferred type of players in free agency.
Until then, the Dolphins must find their GM to make the changes necessary to move beyond the "being close" narrative. The Dolphins must find a GM that is going to re-tool this roster to fit the shemes the coaches plan to use in 2014.