Ireland Has Confidence In Young Secondary

Posted Aug 26, 2012

These are the times when tough but necessary decisions are being made by all 32 teams around the National Football League, and the Miami Dolphins just made another tough one.

General Manager Jeff Ireland feels confident enough in the defensive secondary being developed by his coaching staff that he was able to move forward with the trade of cornerback Vontae Davis to the Indianapolis Colts today. It was a move that was not done in haste and one that Ireland wrestled with but made happen after lengthy discussions with Head Coach Joe Philbin.

“It’s my job to try to establish a strong foundation of success and then build on that moving forward,” said Ireland, who is in his fifth year in his current role with Miami. “We’ve said many times that we want to be a really good football team not only this year but in coming years. We feel like this helps achieve that objective. I believe we’re in a stronger position today to reach our goal of building a football team that will continue to perform at a high level over a sustained period of time.”

The play of cornerbacks Sean Smith, Richard Marshall and Nolan Carroll through training camp and in the preseason caught the eye of Ireland, Philbin and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. They saw enough playmaking ability and a strong enough grasp of Coyle’s defensive system to shake things up a bit in the secondary.

Davis was coming off a 2011 season during which he had four interceptions in 12 games and as the 25th overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, he had enough potential to make him attractive to the Colts. That enabled Ireland to recoup some draft picks for the future.

“We have a lot of confidence in Sean Smith, Richard Marshall, Nolan Carroll and the rest of our defensive backs,” Ireland said. “As a result, when the Colts called me about Vontae I listened as I do whenever I feel like there’s a chance to improve the football team. Joe and I discussed this throughout the negotiations and obviously when the discussions reached a point where we felt like the value we were receiving was going to give us additional tools to improve the football team, that’s when we agreed to the trade.”

Smith was taken in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft, the same year as Davis, and Carroll was a fifth-round pick in 2010. Marshall was signed this offseason as a free agent after playing free safety for the Arizona Cardinals last season and has averaged 83.5 tackles and just under three interceptions in six seasons.

Rookie Kevyn Scott, Quinten Lawrence and Vincent Agnew are the other cornerbacks still on the roster, and second-year player Jimmy Wilson played cornerback as a rookie last year. He is being converted to safety by Coyle and defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo but has that versatility, which also helped Ireland make the decision.

“Obviously, it’s a good group of guys and there’s a lot of years there,” Ireland said. “The arrow’s up on the group as a whole, the safeties included, and we’ve got to do a good job, the personnel staff has to continue do a good job of finding young players to be additions on this football team. Certainly Richard, Sean and Nolan have had a great camp. They showed development, they showed a lot of maturity and showed a lot of confidence and I think the consistency level of those three players have helped me make this decision.”

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