Alain agreed to answer a few questions from fans about the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots top competition for the AFC East this season.
1) How has Channing Crowder been this season and what role do you see him playing among the Dolphins regular linebacker unit?
AP: Crowder has been very impressive pretty much from start to finish. He won a starting job in training camp, which was impressive enough in itself for a rookie, but then switched from outside to inside linebacker when Zach Thomas was sidelined for a couple of games. Crowder is very aggressive and a big hitter, and he's got future Pro Bowler written all over him.
2) What do you consider the strength of the Dolphins defense, and where can a team take advantage of them?
AP: The strength of the Dolphins defense is the front seven, particularly the defensive line. In starters Jason Taylor, Keith Traylor, Vonnie Holliday and Kevin Carter, the Dolphins have four really good defensive linemen. In addition, Zach Thomas is playing as well this season as he ever has. As for weaknesses, it's pretty obvious the way to beat the Miami defense is by taking advantage of what is a mediocre secondary.
3) How do you think the quarterback situation will play out next season?
AP: Very good question. A best guess is that the Dolphins will get two new quarterbacks in the offseason, a veteran and a young guy or draft pick. Sage Rosenfels is as good as gone, while Gus Frerotte probably won't return unless the Dolphins don't find a better alternative.
4) Jason Taylor has made another pro bowl. Are there other players who didn't get an invitation - you feel are as deserving to go as Taylor?
AP: Not really. Taylor and Zach Thomas clearly deserved to make the Pro Bowl, while you could have argued either way about Chris Chambers. The Dolphins also had three third alternates -- tight end Randy McMichael, cornerback Sam Madison and punter Donnie Jones. Of the three, Jones clearly was the most deserving.
5) Do you think the Dolphins have earned their record, or do you think they're better/worse than what their record indicates?
AP: Like Bill Parcells says, You are what your record says you are. It's tough to say. The Dolphins lost a few close games early in the season that they could have won -- including the first New England game -- but they also won a couple late that they easily could have lost. So while the Dolphins are a team on the move, I'm not ready to say they clearly should have been in the playoffs.
6) What offseason changes do you see the Dolphins making?
AP: Quarterback is the first priority. You can also look for changes along the offensive line, particularly at tackle, and the secondary could have a much different look.
7) What do you think will happen around the AFC East next season (Coaching changes, big name player moves)?
AP: The only coach who might go anywhere is Herm Edwards because Mike Mularkey probably will get another shot in Buffalo. In terms of personnel, the Jets probably will have a new starting quarterback and they have a big decision to make with John Abraham and Curtis Martin. Buffalo will have a lot of new faces on defense, particularly in the secondary.
Alain Poupart is the Associate Editor for the Dolphins Digest, and can be found at DolphinsDigest.com. You can reach Alain by sending him an e-mail here: Link
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