Miami Dolphins  

 

Marshall trade fills Dolphins' biggest hole, adds second dimension

The Brandon Marshall trade to the Miami Dolphins ups the ante in the AFC East. The move is the latest trade involving superstar receivers within the division, and it makes the competition tighter for the division title.

Marshall, a two-time Pro Bowler during his four-year career in Denver, gives the Dolphins a legitimate No. 1 receiver and creates an added dimension to their multi-faceted offense. The mercurial talent has three straight seasons with over 100 receptions, and his 23 touchdowns in that span is indicative of his big-play ability.

Though the Dolphins have enjoyed outstanding success utilizing their Wildcat offense, the team’s passing game suffered without a consistent threat at receiver. Miami finished ranked 20th in the league in passing offense, and its receiving corps only accounted for six scores.

Those dismal numbers should change with Marshall in the lineup. He immediately becomes Chad Henne’s go-to guy, and his presence should create plenty of opportunities for others in the passing game. Ted Ginn, Davone Bess, Brian Hartline and Greg Camarillo will extensively see one-on-one coverage as teams focus on keeping Marshall under wraps. Their new roles as complementary receivers should result in better production from the quartet.

Ginn, in particular, could benefit from having the No. 1 receiver label removed from his name. The former first-round pick has struggled under the enormous expectations since his arrival in 2007, but Marshall’s presence might result in better production from Ginn.

Ginn is ideally suited to function as a vertical route runner (due to his speed and skill set), and the Dolphins will likely use him to clear out zones with Marshall running short or intermediate routes underneath. With opponents sure to roll their coverage to Marshall’s side, Henne will be free to take deep shots to Ginn against single coverage. While this may not lead to a high number of receptions, it could result in Ginn tallying a number of big plays on the backside.

Marshall’s presence will also bolster the Dolphins’ formidable rushing attack, as teams will be reluctant to extensively use eight-man fronts on early downs. Dropping an extra defender in the box will subject corners to one-on-one coverage with one of the league’s most dangerous receivers. Therefore, Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown may see their respective yards per carry averages increase significantly next season as they face fewer run-heavy defensive looks.

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For the Broncos, the trade rids coach Josh McDaniels of his biggest headache and gives the team ample ammunition for manipulating the draft. The team now has three picks within the first 45 selections, which gives Denver the ability to move up into the latter part of the first round to pick up a talented player that has fallen.

Although that flexibility is commendable, the loss of such a talent could have severe repercussions on Denver's offense. Marshall’s attitude and petulant behavior may have been a distraction in the locker room, but his production was undoubtedly a boon to the offense.

Without Marshall in the lineup, the Broncos are facing the prospect of trotting out Eddie Royal, Jabar Gafney and Brandon Stokely as their starters. While the trio has solid skills as a whole, there isn’t an impact player in the bunch, and the unit will not strike fear in opponents. Therefore, it's safe to assume the team will attempt to add another playmaker through the draft.

Dez Bryant could be an option at the 11th pick, but the Broncos could be reluctant to take him, given the reported character concerns that surround him. If the team bypasses on Bryant, they could add a talented receiver in the second round. Golden Tate, Damian Williams and Arrelious Benn could be possibilities for the team at the 43rd or 45th pick.

On the surface, such a move would undoubtedly amount to a downgrade at the position. But the team was likely not going to extend Marshall’s contract after the season and would have lost his services without receiving any compensation.

The Dolphins will emerge as winners in this deal based on their ability to fill their biggest need with one of the league’s top talents, but the shedding of the troubled playmaker may help the Broncos buy into the team-first mentality that McDaniels is selling in Denver.

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