A lot of uncertainty surrounded the Miami Dolphins defense going into the 2014 free agency period. With four starters poised to hit the open market, the #8th ranked defense in points allowed could’ve undergone a major makeover.
But before the market opened, the Dolphins retained Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes and added booming safety Louis Delmas, giving the team a little bit more attitude. And while the Fins lost run-stuffing defense tackle Paul Soliai to the Atlanta Falcons, they kept a man who’s been an impact player since he arrived in South Florida six years ago: Pro Bowl defensive tackle Randy Starks.
Since Starks arrived in Miami, he’s been nothing but a stalwart on Miami’s notoriously stingy defense, and the epitome of consistency. In six seasons with the Dolphins, Starks hasn’t missed a game. Yes, you’re eyes aren’t deceiving you. Playing in the ugly trenches where an opponents or teammates’ flying limb or a wrong step can result in injury, Starks has remarkably played in all 96 games of his years in South Florida, and before that, only missed four games in four seasons with the Titans.
All of that combined with the two-time Pro Bowler’s high level of play made it a no brainer for the Fins to retain him, and in an interview with the Finsiders, he expressed his excitement about returning to Miami.
“I feel real good (about returning),” said Starks. “I’ve accomplished a lot here, and I want to finish here. I think these two years are a step for me, so I’m just excited to get back to work.”
Starks realizes that his consistent play is what has helped him reach such a high level of individual success in the NFL, and he hopes to continue to be a dependable force for the Fins on Sundays.
“That’s one thing I want to be known for when I leave this game is that we can count on Randy Starks. He’s one guy that shows up, doesn’t miss games, is durable, and doesn’t get hurt,” said Starks. “That’s something I take pride in. That’s hard to do in this league.”
Now there were a couple reasons why a return to Miami worked out so well for both Starks and the team, but he attributes some of the reasoning on coming back to Miami defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers. Rodgers has been Starks’s coach since the Maryland product came to the team in 2008, and has squeezed every ounce of talent out of the Fins group of defensive lineman, which many consider one of the most elite defensive line groupings in the NFL with guys like Cameron Wake, Starks, Jared Odrick, and recent breakout star Olivier Vernon.
Rodgers was definitely on Starks’ mind when considering his free agent status.
“It actually did (enter my thoughts), because I didn’t go anywhere. Kacy is a great coach, and I’m sure there’s a lot of good defensive line coaches out there, but I know what I’m getting out of him and he knows what he’s getting out of me, just like this whole defensive staff,” said Starks. “They know what I’m gonna bring every Sunday whereas if I go somewhere else, they’re gonna have to feel each other out and it would be new. So I’m just happy to be here.”
Family and comfort also played a major part in Starks staying in Miami , as one of the many forgotten things about NFL free agency is the toll taken on player’s families. Starks, like many other players around the league, didn’t want to just get up and leave a place he’s called home for so long.
“There’s a lot of money out there, but at the end of the day nobody wants to just pack up and move, everybody wants to stay, said Starks. “I’m already settled, I have everything settled here. I’m just happy to be here, and besides, you can’t beat the good weather.”
With Starks back in the picture for the Fins, he’s excited to see what else the front office will do in regards to building the team. And he already notices a pattern in this year’s roster developing: physicality.
“I think they’ve (Joe Philbin and Dennis Hickey) made a lot of good moves. Offensive line is one area we didn’t do too well in as far as sacks and hits on the quarterback, so that let’s you know that by signing me up front, and signing him (Branden Albert) on the offensive line that it starts up front, and we want to be physical and dominate.”
He hopes that that physicality turns into postseason success this season.
“We were so close. We beat teams that made the playoffs and did well and we know we should be there. Looking at the playoff games, we know we belonged there. Now, we just have to go out there and win.”
RELATED: Starks: I’m Just Happy To Be Back
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.