Miami Dolphins need Zach Vigil to grow quickly
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins have a problem at linebacker and his name is Kelvin Sheppard. O.k. they also have an issue with the slightly above average Koa Misi. What Miami lacks is a playmaking linebacker that will change the game. It has been an ongoing problem for the Dolphins for several years and this years squad doesn’t appear to be ready to quiet it’s critics.
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Kelvin Sheppard is currently the Miami Dolphins starting middle linebacker but continued play like last Sunday will give reason to the coaches to make a change. Unfortunately they have but one option should Sheppard not become what the Dolphins think he should be. Zach Vigil. Built like Zach Thomas, Vigil is undersized and lacks the strength to be considered a top linebacker in the NFL. He has issues with pass protection and comes up short in run defense.
His inadequacies are mainly due to his inexperience and not his diminutive size on the field. Vigil is 6’2″ which in by no way short. Zach Thomas only stood 5’11”. Vigil however plays smaller. Perhaps that’s because he isn’t built like a freight car like other NFL middle linebackers. What he lacks in experience and in some ways size, he fully makes up for in effort, speed, and drive.
Of all the players on the Dolphins roster, Vigil seems to be the one player with the non-stop motor. Last Sunday, Vigil saw his first NFL regular season action and recorded his first tackle. Re-watching the game showed Vigil getting knocked around a bit too but unlike Sheppard, Vigil has the ability to recover and force the play to a conclusion. What is most impressive is that he doesn’t seem to get shaken.
Vigil played well for an un-drafted rookie but has a long way to go before he takes over a more predominant role in the linebacker group. Teammates love his attitude and several players have commented to the media how Vigil tends to act like “the locker room is his”. He exudes confidence in himself and that’s a strength that few NFL players have without the addition of ego. He knows what he needs to work on and he knows where his game is lacking.
Of course this is all based on hearsay as I have not spoken with Vigil independently only with people who have seen him or spoken to him one on one. They all come away with a great first impression. On the field, Vigil is starting to make an early impression as well. He only needs to continue to improve and his chance to take over the middle spot will eventually come.
The Dolphins should hope that Vigil grows quickly. Last year it was Jelani Jenkins who was thrust into a starting role and he excelled at making plays. Vigil could be the Dolphins future in the middle but that will be dependent on his growth. He needs to take advantage of ever defensive opportunity he gets. While he may not have the experience now, and yes at times it shows, he is still impressive to watch.
This week the Dolphins will face the Jacksonville Jaguars and I suspect that Vigil will get more playing time this Sunday. If he continues to develop and maintains that never quit style of play, he may very well be manning the middle late in the season when the Dolphins begin their playoff chase.