Dolphins' transition to youth hurt special teams

Posted Oct. 07, 2010 @ 4:26 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Even before the Patriots manhandled the Dolphins' special-teams unit under the Monday-night lights in Week Four, Miami had concerns. And when Patriots WR Brandon Tate returned the opening kickoff of the second half 103 yards for a touchdown, it underscored the point. Through four weeks, Miami ranks last in the league, allowing 35.8 yards per kickoff return. Following the special-teams nightmare, head coach Tony Sparano fired special-teams coordinator John Bonamego. However, we hear the issue is more than just Bonamego's schemes — the personnel didn't do him any favors either. In transitioning to a younger team, the Dolphins saw some of their top special-teams players from 2009 — OLB Cameron Wake, CB Jason Allen and FS Chris Clemons  — leave teams duty to become starters on defense. One of last year's consistent special-teams players who did not become a starter, ILB Erik Walden, was cut after missing a blocking assignment that led to a blocked punt against the Jets. With so many young players who are being counted on to help the unit failing, don't be surprised to see more starters taking special-teams snaps, because consistently signing fringe guys to play special teams is not working.