Around the AFC East, Week 6: Miami Dolphins

It's Friday, and for a sixth consecutive week, we'll be dedicating our Friday to meandering around the three two opponent cities of the AFC East.  With Brian Bassett on vacation, however, we'll be going around the East sans Jets - which isn't a total loss, because, well... they're just not that good, are they?

And since the always-grueling discussion of the Patriots is over, we've reached the final segment of Around the AFC East for this week - and many of you are probably just arriving to work.  We wrap up this week's discussions by talking about a delightful potential first-round bust in DB Jason Allen.  Matty I of The Phinsider has the details:

Brlogo_medium    How is Jason Allen's development coming?  Statistically, he was much better in his sophomore season (62 tackles, 3 interceptions, a forced fumble) as compared to his rookie season (20 tackles, 1 interception).  Is he poised to become one of the league's better starting defensive backs?

Phinsider_s_medium    The Phinsider: Well, Jason Allen is a work in progress.  He's a guy with all the physical talent in the world.  He's got everything you look for in a safety…physically speaking.  He's fast, is a solid tackler, and will go up and get the ball to make a play.  But the problem here is that he has clearly had trouble dealing with the mental aspects of playing safety at the professional level.  And too often, he gets lost in coverage, misses an assignment, and gives up a big play – the cardinal sin for safeties.

But a lot of that might have been due to the fact that he had two complicated defenses to learn.  Nick Saban's defensive scheme is a very complex one which can easily overwhelm a young player coming out of college.  Then he had to get adjusted to Dom Capers' defense last year and wasn't even involved in the defensive back rotation to start the season.  But after numerous injuries to the team's defensive backs, Allen became a starter.  And he looked better than he ever did; making plays both in run support and in coverage.  However, he still got lost in coverage too often and was still prone to giving up the big play.

This year, though, is different.  The defense that new defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni is installing is said to be much different and more "player-friendly."  It's supposed to be a scheme that will allow players to simply react and let their natural physical ability take over rather than forcing these players to think too much.  That will greatly help Jason Allen take his game to the next level – hopefully.  And recent reports are encouraging; with one report stating that some Dolphin officials believe their safeties are better than those in Dallas.  Sure, the Cowboys' safeties might not be great, but this is still good news.

All I do know, though, is that this is Jason Allen's "crap or get off the pot" season.  He needs to prove his worth now.

Sorry to say it, but claiming that your safeties are better than those in Dallas is like saying that your tight ends are better than, well, Buffalo's.  As usual, I think Matty is right on - Allen's a world-class talent with the mind mush to make him a mediocre player who occasionally shows flashes of what he was supposed to be.

Even with Paul Pasqualoni running the defense down there - Paul P is the man; his time at Syracuse more than makes up for his defection to Miami - I doubt Allen makes enough strides to avoid being replaced by neck season.  But I'm allowed to be overly critical and skeptical with opposing players.  If Pasqualoni's defense works the magic that Matty says it could, Allen could develop into a fine player.

Around the AFC East's sixth edition of 2008 is now in the books, but we're not done talking football today.  I've got a couple more things to get off of my chest before the end of the day, so stay tuned.

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