2005 Position Review: DB

With the Dolphins having completed their 2005 season, we break down the team by position with a look back at each player's performance as well as a look ahead to the offseason and next season. Today we take a look at the defensive backs.

Who finished the season on the roster: Starters -- Travis Daniels (LCB), Sam Madison (RCB), Travares Tillman (SS), FS Lance Schulters (FS); backups -- Reggie Howard, Eddie Jackson, Norman LeJeune, Yeremiah Bell, Kiwaukee Thomas; others -- S Tebucky Jones (IR), CB Shirdonya Mitchell (Reserve/NFI), CB Will Poole (IR)

How they did: The Dolphins had a whole new look in the secondary with three new starters in 2005 and the results, quite frankly, were less than stellar. The Dolphins secondary was one of the weakest areas on the team, as opponents completed 58.8 percent of their passes and Miami ranked in the bottom third in the league in third-down defense. Lance Schulters led the Dolphins with four interceptions, including a huge one late in the victory against Carolina, but also gave up some big plays down the stretch. Travis Daniels might have been the most consistent cornerback, but he also drew his share of penalties. Sam Madison didn't look a thing like his former Pro Bowl self for the first dozen games, but he played much better in the final quarter of the season. Reggie Howard, who lost his starting job to Daniels early in the season, struggled badly in coverage as the nickel back, but did a very nice job blitzing. All in all, though, this was not an impressive performance by this group.

What's ahead: Expect another slew of changes before the start of next season. Madison, who is scheduled to make $3.4 million in 2006, is as good as gone. Schulters will be an unrestricted free agent and, while he said he wants to come back, the Dolphins won't get in a bidding war for his services. Daniels will return, but it's debatable whether he'll continue as a starter. The other safety also might have a new starter, even with Tebucky Jones coming back from a chest injury. Really, the only defensive backs who definitely will be back are Daniels, Yeremiah Bell and Will Poole, who missed all of 2005 because of a knee injury.

The bottom line: The Dolphins were decent defensively in 2005, but they'll need to improve significantly in their pass defense if they are to beat the elite teams in the league. After quarterback, the secondary probably is the biggest offseason priority for Coach Nick Saban.

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