This is the second part of the Miami Dolphins versatility series. Here we look at the defenders that you may see all over the field this year. Finding just a handful of players is very hard as Flores loves his versatility on the defensive side. He stresses that everyone should know every position. Every player listed was brought in by Flores and Grier (with the exception of one who recently resigned with Miami).
Jones was one of the more pleasant surprises last year. Drafted in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, not many thought Jones would have the impact he did last year. Jones was used in a number of different ways and even made a presence in week one. He was very good at stopping the run and was effective in coverage. His best trait is being a team player as you could see him running down the sideline making key blocks for his teammates on interceptions or fumbles.
Year two for Jones is expected to be a big one. His willingness to do anything to make the team successful will only help him this season. One former Dolphin that Jones reminds me of is Rashad Jones. Both players would blow up the run one play, then break up a key pass the next. Stopping the run was a focal point of the offseason, expect Jones to get his fair share of snaps this season, even with the addition of Javon Holland.
The Miami Dolphins drafted Holland in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, which shocked some people. This eventually led to the release of former team captain Bobby McCain. Even though McCain’s leadership will be missed significantly, Holland is ready to take over. In college, Holland played all over the defensive backfield and was successful in all positions. He can play the slot, he can play either safety position and in dire situations outside corner (which should not happen as Flores loves his corners).
This season, expect Holland to take McCain’s role in Miami’s defense. Holland has the athleticism to keep up with some of the faster receivers in the league. Playing alongside Eric Rowe will allow Holland to primarily focus on slot receivers or running backs coming out of the backfield, along with not letting anything get behind him. His ability to dissect plays will help him a ton as you will see in Miami he will always be around the ball.
Andrew Van Ginkel
AVG exploded onto the scene last year as one of Miami’s top playmakers on the defense. He was forcing fumbles, getting sacks, scoring, really anything on defense Van Ginkel did. Even though he wasn’t a starter for much of the season, he still made his presence known. He was one of the team’s better pass rushers, but he is athletic enough to play in zone coverage and could be a playmaker in the run game. Last season, AVG flashed all of this but not as consistent as we all hopped, granted he was not playing as many snaps as we all hoped either.
AVG in 2021 will be one of the biggest surprises in the NFL. His ability to rush the passer with his hand in the dirt or standing up gives him a ton of leverage against offensive lineman. His snap count on special teams should not change as AVG was one of the better special teams players. Van Ginkel may not take over all of KVN’s snaps as Jaelan Phillips was drafted. AVG will be put in more situations this season and if he improves his coverage and run play early, we will see a lot more of him.
Baker is a key part of Miami’s defense, and for good reason too. He is the prototypical Brain Flores linebacker, which is why Miami recently resigned him to a 3 year, $37.5 million dollar extension. Many fans called this an overpay, until Fred Werner signed his extension just a couple of days ago. Baker’s responsibility on defense is probably the most important and he plays a key factor every snap. Last season Baker had over 100 tackles and 7 sacks, which is absurd. Baker is a very good coverage linebacker and with the addition of Benardrick McKinney, Baker should be able to show that ability more. His run defense is a question mark but McKinney was brought in to help Baker.
This season, Baker will play more in coverage as Brian Flores McKinney will be the run stopping linebacker. Baker will also get to rush the passer as he’s shown that he is one of the better blitzers on the team. This season Baker will be in more positions to exceed the expectations of every fan and hopefully become a pro bowl linebacker.
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