Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Is Paul Pasqualoni A Good Hire For The Dolphins?

Paul Pasqualoni has been hired by the Miami Dolphins to be their next defensive coordinator. Prior to joining Miami, he worked with new head coach, Tony Sparano, in Dallas where he was the linebackers coach in 2006 & 2007 and the tight ends coach in 2005. Before coaching in the NFL, Pasqualoni was the head coach at Syracuse University where he compiled a 107-59-1 regular season record and a bowl game record of 6-3. And exactly how did the Syracuse defense perform while he was the head coach there?

Well, it's hard to track down solid statistics for his entire tenure, however we do have a pretty good set to look at from 1999 to 2004, his final year. Also, from '99-'03 Chris Rippon was SU's defensive coordinator. He's now the special teams and defensive backs coach at Ole Miss. In 2004, Steve Dunlap became the DC for Syracuse. He's now the defensive coordinator at Marshall.

Defensive Stats(rush yds allowed, pass yds allowed, tot. defense, pts/gm)
1999: 116.7 rush yds/gm(#28), 184.5 pass yds/gm(#18)[10TD/12INT], 301.2 tot. yds(#14), 22.1pts/gm(#36)

2000: 135.8 rush yds/gm(#42), 176.09 pass yds/gm(#12)[9TD/7INT], 311.9 tot. yds(#18), 19.3pts/gm(#23)

2001: 170.2 rush yds/gm(#72), 189.00 pass yds/gm(#24)[13TD/13INT], 359.17 tot. yds(#46), 20.3pts/gm(#26)

2002: 171.9 rush yds/gm(#85), 303.75 pass yds/gm(#117)[22TD/10INT], 475.67 tot. yds(#113), 33.8pts/gm(#98)

2003: 138.2 rush yds/gm(#42), 222.17 pass yds/gm(#62)[22TD/17INT], 360.33 tot. yds(#47), 25.1pts/gm(#59)

2004: 186.7 rush yds/gm(#86), 240.17 pass yds/gm(#90)[23TD/13INT], 426.83 tot. yds(#101), 28.7pts/gm(#76)

Hmmm, 2004 could be written off as a bad year because of the defensive coordinator change. However, I am a little concerned with the steady decline in total defense from '99 to '02. Though, the defense rebounded a bit in 2003. Part of the sharp dropoff between '01 and '02 could be attributed to Dwight Freeney's departure to the NFL. His pass rushing ability was undoubtably missed, and was a reason that SU's sack total dropped from 40 to 26. They also lost Will Allen to the NFL prior to the 2001 season, and that surely impacted their pass defense in that season and possibly beyond.

From looking at the stats, it appears that Pasqualoni can coach when he has the talent. When he had players like Freeney, Allen and Keith Bulluck his defense performed well. However, without players of that caliber his teams gave up points and yards. And while some might think that this doesn't bode well for his ability to run Miami's defense, I don't think that it's all that bad. After all, Pasqualoni will not be asked to recruit free agents to the team, which I have a feeling is a weakness that hurt him at Syracuse at times.

He does seem capable of coaching players at a high level, as his record at SU indicates. Pasqualoni appears to me to be a decent hire, though it's going to take time and a lot of work to revamp Miami's defense that is filled with aging players, inexperienced young recruits and not much in between. Hopefully he can mold the unit into one similar to some of the top ranked defenses he fielded while at Syracuse, and not one like the one he had in 2002 that was ranked #113(out of 117) in the country.

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