The Miami Dolphins have a problem with their linebackers as in they really don’t have any. Jeff Ireland spent a lot of money on two failed attempts to upgrade an aging group when he added Dannelle Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler. Neither player has made an impact on anything outside of Stephen Ross’ wallet. We get word this week that the team is moving Jordan Tripp up the depth chart and giving him a run with the ones.
The issues is the fact that the Dolphins gave up 84 yards on the ground against Atlanta last Friday night. If that were a regular season one would be thrilled with holding an opponent to that number but two very long runs of 30 plus yards were called back on Atlanta penalties and frankly the linebackers couldn’t get the basic art of tackling down. Wrap, drive, roll your hips. It hasn’t changed since pee-wee football.
In today’s NFL the highlight reel drives many a players attention and as a result, over the years basic tackling has gone away as players try to “hit” the player to the ground, they try arm tackling, grabbing, and taking out the legs. Where is the face mask to the chest, rolling the hips and driving through the player with your shoulders squared? Sure you have to be in front of the runner but guess what? Even when they are they are missing tackles. It sounds simple and at the core it is a simple process but in reality it is not or everyone would be doing it.
Another issue and probably the number one cause of tackle degradation around the league is the CBA. The NFL no lingers allows contact like it did before. Teams are restricted to 14 total contact practices and only a small portion of those practices are committed to tackling drills. From rules that govern the way a player tackles and the rules that govern how often teams can pad to pad practice, it’s no wonder there is a drop in production. That however is not an excuse.
The Dolphins need someone to step up and make plays on the defensive side of the ball and the are hoping that the rookie from Montana, Jordan Tripp, will be that guy. He has been impressive in camp thus far but he has yet to make an impact with the first team. Now he will get that chance. Unfortunately spending a few practices with the number one unit is not going to get him better…see the rules above…but playing this weekend against Tampa Bay will. Tripp needs to be on that field with the ones.
He will be used primarily on the outside but it’s being reported locally that the Dolphins intend to try him in the middle as well.