What does it all mean?

Remember when Jim Bates addressed the media right after the end of last season and he said that, even thought it might come as a surprise, the defense needed more help than the offense? Certainly is working out that way early in the offseason, isn't it? All three of the Dolphins' free agent signings have been defensive players, and there will be more moves coming in the upcoming weeks, moves that could signify an entirely different Dolphins defense next season.

We know already that cornerback Patrick Surtain is on the trading block, and word is a trade might happen soon. Fellow corner Sam Madison also might be leaving because of his unsightly salary-cap number.

Really, there doesn't appear to be anybody safe on the Dolphins these days, and that includes Jason Taylor.

New coach Nick Saban is said to favor the 3-4 defense, although he said at the scouting combine he might have to play a combination of defenses at first because he might not have the personnel to play his system.

Well, the signings of free agent defensive ends Kevin Carter and Vonnie Holliday gave him two very good pieces for a 3-4 defense.

Taylor, on the other hand, is not suited at all for a 3-4 defense unless he's moved to outside linebacker. And his agent, Gary Wichard, told the Palm Beach Post that idea didn't particularly thrill Taylor.

So something has to give here if Saban goes ahead with a 3-4.

Already, the idea of Taylor being traded has been floated, and two scenarios had Taylor going to Indy for Edgerrin James and Taylor going to Seattle for Shaun Alexander.

If the Dolphins indeed are going to play a 3-4, we say go ahead and make either trade if the cap ramifications aren't too severe. The reason is that Taylor, as wonderful a player as he is, simply will not be the same in a 3-4 defense.

Taylor is what he is -- a tremendous pass-rushing defensive end and underrated run stopper in a 4-3 scheme.

You also have to wonder about Zach Thomas, who has greatly benefited from the Dolphins' scheme over the years. That scheme was designed for the two big defensive tackles to tie up blockers and allow Thomas to roam free to make tackles.

It's not going to be quite as simple in a 3-4 and Thomas' lack of size could become a problem in that alignment. So maybe that makes Thomas a question mark as well.

The bottom line is that the Dolphins will have a whole new look on defense next season and it might not be long before there's no one remaining from the Jimmy Johnson era.


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