Each week as training camp develops, we will provide a breakdown on all the players that are moving up and down the depth chart, specifically focusing in on the Miami Dolphins Safety. In this week addition, we are hearing great reviews on Walt Aikens, chemistry between Rashed Jones and IQ and a potential move for Michael Thomas.
Walt Aikens turning heads?
The Dolphins coaches are starting to rave about the physical condition of Walt Aikens (case of déjà vu?). Aikens has reported in excellent shape this year, actually trimming down from 215 (his playing weight last year) to 203.
Don’t let this media spin alter your decision too much on Aikens. We heard this exact report last year, bare in mind, it was a different coaching regimen, but we all know that Aikens is a gym rat, what we still don’t know is whether or not he can transform that ability to actually making a difference when the lights come on.
Chemistry with Jones and IQ
There are only a handful of positions in the NFL where you actually have to know, inside and out, how your teammate reacts to certain situations, coverages, reads, and assignments. Basically, the reaction one player has to a certain read, his corresponding teammate must have the opposite reaction. No other positions has this type of dynamic other than the Safety positions. First of all it’s great to hear that Isa Abdul-Quddus aka IQ is finally running with the starters. Pairing him with Reshad Jones finally gives Jones a player that he can develop with. Vance Joseph will implement a shared Safety responsibility where either the Free or Strong Safety could drop into the box.
Adam Gase recognized this variation and noted the following response in one of his recent press conferences;
"“It makes it tough because you can’t predict where everybody’s going to be. Maybe if No. 20 was always the down guy, at least I could say ‘Hey, I’m always going to run away from him.’ Or I know at least if he’s on that side, maybe in the passing game, I’d stay away from him,”Gase said.“But when those guys can either go down, in the middle, it makes it tough as a play-caller. Now you don’t have that advantage to stay away from somebody.”"
Let’s hope that these two have had enough time to develop their chemistry, as opening day is starting to get closer and closer.
Thomas on the move?
It’s too early to tell, but with the coaching staff liking what they have seen from Aikens this offseason, Michael Thomas, is getting limited reps at safety. The lack of playing time has shifted Thomas to compete with Bruce McCain for the starting nickel position. In certain situation, the Dolphins will be moving to a hybrid nickel package which we have seen Joseph implement with Bengals, in those situations, early reports are stating that Thomas is the replacing IQ.
Which doesn’t make too much sense, as IQ, should be on the field in all schemas. Something to watch out for tonight, against the Giants.