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Around the AFC East, Week 3: Miami Dolphins

In our next installment of Around the AFC East, I talk with Matty I from The Phinsider :

Joey Porter has "blamed" the use of a 4-3 defense for what some say is a lackluster performance on his part.  He claims, "I just didn't feel like I could do some of the things I was really good at."  Is there any merit to that?  Is a 3-4 truly that much of a stretch for not only him but most LBs?

The Phinsider : I think that being forced to play in a 4-3 defense in 2007 did limit Porter's production.  Remember, Dom Capers originally wanted to run a 3-4 before all the injuries hit.  And because he had to play in a 4-3, Joey indeed didn't get to do some of the things he is good at.  Mainly, that's rush the passer.  Instead, he was forced to drop back into coverage, either in zone or in man-to-man with a back or tight end.  Also, for some reason, Capers rarely use any blitz packages when they were lined up in a 4-3.  So Porter had to adjust his game and play a position he isn't used to.  There are some big differences between the OLB spot in a 4-3 and a 3-4.  At 30 years of age, it was clearly hard for Porter to learn new assignments.

But that wasn't the only reason Porter struggled last year.  You'll remember that he underwent a knee scope early in August, causing him to miss 3+ weeks of practice.  When he returned, he was clearly slowed by that knee, limiting his effectiveness early on in the season.  But after the bye week, in Miami's final 8 games, Porter played much better.  Over those final 8 games, Porter (despite playing in an unfamiliar defensive scheme) tallied 39 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 2 interceptions.  More importantly, he played faster than he was in the first 8 games of the year.

So while Joey wants to blame the defensive system, and that might have been part of it, I think the injury was also to blame.  And once he got back to full strength, he played noticeably more aggressively and was more productive (and that's despite playing in a 4-3 most of the time).

Blatant Patriots homerism, but I can't stand Joey Porter.  I think he's a loudmouth who can't keep his mouth shut, mostly because of his speaking out on Spygate .  In a time when he should've kept his trap shut (most every other player did), he decided to vent.  Maybe because he's a former Steeler.

That being said, I do agree with Matty's analysis.  A 3-4 is vastly different from a 4-3, especially if you're a pass rushing OLB like Porter; Pass coverage was a stretch for him.

Thanks Matty I and Pats fans, head on over to The Phinsider for my answer to Matty's questions.