What Took So Long?

There has been no official announcement from Nick Saban, nor will there be one, but Yeremiah Bell will replace Travares Tillman in the starting lineup at strong safety against the Bears. Our only thought on this is reflected in the headline: What took so long?

Look, we don't pretend to know more than Saban or any of the Dolphins coaches, but watching the Dolphins play this season and last year for that matter, hasn't it been pretty obvious that Bell is a playmaker who makes a lot of things happen despite limited playing time.

On the flip side, hasn't it also been pretty obvious that Tillman has major problems when it comes to pass defense.

Tillman either finds himself out of position or, if he is in position, unable to make a play on the ball. That's a scene that has played out way too often this season and last.

This is nothing against Tillman, who by all accounts has done a pretty solid job in run support, but the facts are undeniable. The Dolphins secondary has had major breakdowns this season, and Tillman has been responsible for some of those.

For example, it was he who neglected to cover the deep area of the field when Pittsburgh tight end Heath Miller got behind Zach Thomas, caught a pass from Charlie Batch and then ran to the end zone for an 87-yard touchdown that gave the Steelers the lead.

It's also not as though Tillman is the only member of the secondary who has had issues.

Free safety Renaldo Hill hasn't exactly made a lot of plays, and he was unable to prevent Ahman Green (not exactly a speed burner) from racing 70 yards on a touchdown run.

Will Allen has one adequately well in coverage, but he often gives too much cushion and he also has had a problem with penalties.

Travis Daniels, meanwhile, has been hurt quite a bit and he also hasn't had a great season when he's been on the field.

In fact, the defensive back we've observed as having the best season so far has been Andre Goodman, who for some reason always gets removed from the starting lineup whenever Daniels is healthy enough to play.

But that's a different story for another day.

Back to Bell, he has flashed tremendous athletic ability time and time again since joining the Dolphins. Now, we understand he might be raw and not as well knowledgeable about defenses because he played at Eastern Kentucky, but he obviously was good enough to keep on the team.

Bell had three sacks last season to tie the single-season franchise record for a defensive back. We're thinking he'll be able to make enough big plays to offset whatever mistakes he might make.

It's well worth finding out. It should have been sooner, actually.


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