Steve Mitchell

Dolphins DC Joseph Takes Questions

Yesterday, Miami Dolphins DC Vance Joseph spoke to media members after practice. He answered questions regarding the status of some of his defensive players.

The Defensive Front

“So far so good. It’s an experienced front so I’m not surprised what they’re doing between Miami Dolphins' defensive linemen Mario Williams and Ndamukong Suh. Jason Jones has been a nice surprise… as an edge setter as an inside rusher. So I’m pleased with those guys.”

Defensive End Jason Jones should be a nice surprise, but don’t expect him to be anything more than a quality player who comes off the bench. He was drafted by the Titans in the 2nd Round of the 2008 draft, but has not played up to his draft position. Accumulating only 137 Tackles and 28 Sacks in his 8 year career. The 30 year old has bounced from team to team playing with the Titans(2008-11), Seahawks (2012), and Lions (2013-15). He has had 2 season-ending injuries 2009(shoulder) and 2013(knee).

Phillips vs. Mitchell

Jordan Phillips is locked in a battle with Earl Mitchell for the starting spot next to Ndamukong Suh. Phillips, Miami’s 2015 2nd round pick, was practicing a lot with the starters during OTA’s and Minicamp(no pads), but has not been seen with the 1’s much in Training Camp.

“Earl and Jordan have both worked hard. It was a pact that we came into camp: whoever practices the best goes out with the starters. But honestly, we’re gonna need at least 4 inside guys to play. So whoever starts, in my mind, does not matter. I want those 4 inside guys that we keep on the roster to be all dominant players. So I’m not down on Jordan, but I want Jordan to grow and become the player we think he can be. That’s why he’s being pushed the way he’s being pushed.”

Last year, Phillip’s admitted he fell in the draft because he took plays off. As far as questions about Phillips’ work ethic, Joseph believes it’s a coaches job to fix that.

“I don’t think it's haunting him. I think it comes back from time to time. But it’s our job to coach players. You get a player with that size and ability, we gotta make him do it. That’s why you pay coaches. So I’m not down on Jordan. We are gonna keep working with Jordan. And We are gonna make Jordan the player he should be.”

Let’s hope so. The Dolphins invested a 2nd-round pick in Phillips and it would be a shame to think they didn’t get an impact player in return. Phillips needs to show what he can do this year. It doesn’t take a genius to learn the Defense Tackle position. Phillips needs to dig in and create disruption for the offensive line.

Xavien Howard and the CB’s

“Absolutely,” Joseph said when asked if Xavien Howard could still start after he returns from the PUP List. “He’s a 2nd Round Pick for a reason. He’s talented. And what we saw in the spring, that gave us hope that he could be a starter. But again, he hadn’t practiced yet, he hadn’t worked. Until he comes back, I won’t know that answer.”

During Minicamp Howard was in a back and forth battle with Tony Lippett for the starting CB spot opposite Byron Maxwell. On July 29th, the rookie corner was placed on the PUP list with a knee injury, and will not return until he is able to pass a physical.

Who will fill in at Right CB?

“It’s a competition position. We got 3 or 4 guys who are working there and the best guys want to play. Right now, it's more about experience and how to play to the system. It’s not about talent right now. We got 3 or 4 guys working and we’ll find someone to play.”

I beg to differ. Coaches can create a system that limits a player’s deficiencies, but you still need talent, to play in this league. CB Bobby McCain is expected to be the slot corner on this team (thank goodness, because Dolphins fans saw him get torched playing outside last year); Tony Lippett was expected to fill in for Howard, but has been inconsistent in camp and nearly got his ankles broken by Jarvis Landry yesterday; Chimdi Chekwa appears to be the more consistent candidate but hasn’t played a game in 2 years and has done nothing in his career to merit a starting position; and former Browns Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (knee) supposedly has 1st round talent, but the Dolphins seem overly cautious with their approach to bring him back-- holding him out all 3 days of Minicamp.

Miami may have “3 or 4 guys” competing for the position. But that’s like choosing the least stinkiest piece of garbage out of a trash can.

But at least Maxwell’s well…

“Maxwell is playing really well. He came back in great shape about 200 pounds which he played at 2 or 3 years ago so he’s playing well.”

Yay.

LB Kiko Alonso

Concerns of Kiko Alonso’s small frame for a middle linebacker have arose ever since his addition to the team. Joseph doesn’t seem to be phased by this. He believes its all part of the evolution of the game and today’s passing era.  

“I think Kiko is a modern day mike-backer. Back in the day, you have those mike-backers who are really A-gap run-stoppers and big guys who can cover. It’s a passing league along with a little of 1-back run. So I think it fits him. He’s a modern day mike-backer. A guy with the size and length, but also the speed to run to the flat and run seem.”

I agree with Joseph. Almost every team in the NFL has a quarterback or is in the process of grooming one. Teams on the rise like the Raiders, Jaguars, Bucs, and Titans have all drafted quarterbacks and surrounded them quickly with high-quality WR’s to put up points. Cornerbacks have never been more valuable, and defensive players have needed to become more faster and agile. However, being able to stop the run is still important. Most defenses still focus on stopping the run first, and making the quarterback beat you. If a defense can’t stop the ground attack, then they will never get off the field. Today’s NFL requires a rare breed of athlete at the linebacker position—someone fast enough to cover Tight Ends and running backs, as well as strong enough to get in the trenches and stuff the run. Let’s hope the Dolphins found one.

However, being able to stop the run is still important. Most defenses still focus on stopping the run first, and making the quarterback beat you. If a defense can’t stop the ground attack, then they will never get off the field. Today’s NFL requires a rare breed of athlete at the linebacker position—someone fast enough to cover Tight Ends and running backs, as well as strong enough to get in the trenches and stuff the run. Let’s hope the Dolphins found one.

FINS UP!


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