Miami’s Interior D-Linemen Separating Themselves

Posted Nov 13, 2013

Odrick, Soliai and Starks induce fear in opposing offensive lines.

Two of the three defensive tackles on the Miami Dolphins have Pro Bowls on their resumes – Paul Soliai and Randy Starks – and the third, Jared Odrick, could be on his way to Hawaii for the first time.

So whenever opposing offensive coordinators put on the film in preparation to face Miami, they pay special attention to Nos. 98, 96 and 94 and with good reason. Each player provides a different challenge at the line of scrimmage, starting with the 6-foot-5, 302-pound Odrick’s nimble feet, pass rushing ability as a converted defensive end and strength at the point of attack. Soliai’s mammoth frame (6-4, 340) and ability to take on double and triple teams and Starks’ high motor and brute power at 6-3 and 305 balance things out.

“We mesh well,” said Odrick, who has 27 tackles (21 solo), 3.5 sacks, nine quarterback hits and seven tackles for loss this season. “I think with Paul you obviously have the guy who takes pride in stopping the run and who looks across league wide and compares himself and tries to be the best at it. He does an awesome job and he’s a leader in our room and he’s a consistent professional.

“Then with Randy you get a guy who’s been here in the league 10 years, who has been through a lot of different experiences with different coaches, different teams and he can tell you how things are going to play out more often than not just because of his experience. And I guess myself, I just try to bring as much to the table as possible in terms of staying active, being around the ball and doing whatever I can, not just vocally, but trying to lead by example.”

As a trio, Odrick, Soliai and Starks have combined for 10.5 of Miami’s 27 sacks this season and 79 tackles (56 solo). Their ability to generate a strong push up the middle and occupy their blockers for a long period of time allows defensive ends Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, Dion Jordan and Derrick Shelby to find clear paths to the quarterback.

Stopping the run is what this group really prides itself on, so when a team like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has the kind of success it had Monday night these three players are not happy. It fires them up more to rebound this Sunday against the San Diego Chargers at Sun Life Stadium, which is why defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle speaks so highly of his interior linemen.

“I think they’ve been solid throughout the season overall,” Coyle said. “At times very, very good. I didn’t think that we dominated the front (Monday) night the way that we have against a lot of teams at times when they’ve tried to run the football. Give them some credit, they did a good job, but yet I think our guys are better than how we played. If you take it in the big picture of things, I still think we have three of the better interior guys at their position in the league.”

Soliai went to his only Pro Bowl in 2011 and Starks was selected in 2010 and 2012, so they already have gotten the attention of their peers around the league. Odrick, a first-round draft pick out of Penn State in the 2010 NFL Draft, had been getting more attention for his Pee Wee Herman sack dance over the last couple of years. But now his level of play has reached new heights and he is comfortable in talking about where he thinks this group of defensive tackles ranks among the rest of the league, which is among the best.

“I think our room does feel that way,” Odrick said. “And I think you have to feel that way if you want to be able to be able to be in that type of position and do those types of things and have other people call you that. You have to think tat way as well ad that’s got to be one of your goals it to be that type of group and I think that’s what we’re trying to do this year.”
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