Let’s flashback a few years. The Dolphins hired Mike Nolan to become their defensive coordinator. A hiring that made sense across the NFL at the time. Pairing Nolan with Todd Bowles was a match made in heaven. Tony Sparano, the head coach of the Dolphins at that time, never knew how to run a defence, now handing the keys over to these two talented coaches allowed the Dolphins to have one of their best defensive seasons in recent years.
Fast forward to 2016, when Adam Gase hired Vance Joseph to run his defence there was skepticism across the board. The Dolphins are once again hiring a Bengals assistant to run their Defense? How did that work out last time (evidence showed that the Dolphins fired Kevin Coyle). Why bring in another assistant when there are former NFL coaches available? The list goes on…
But the signing of Joseph was a little different. Unlike Coyle, Joseph had a pedigree family coaching tree where his former mentors and teachers had real life championship credentials. Wade Phillips – the most recent example, winning a Super Bowl last year, by having the best all-around defence in the NFL.
Ask Cam Newton how good the Broncos Defence is….
During the preseason, Joseph played it cool. Similar to Mike Nolan, only a base 4-3 defense was implemented, not to show his hand to the rest of the coaches and players out there. Reviewing the game tape from last week loss to Seattle, we saw a Dolphins team that was competitive. The Miami Dolphins were competitive in a game where everyone, including Santa Claus, thought the Dolphins had no chance of winning. The largest spread in Vegas on week 1 – Seattle over Miami.
The Dolphins were competitive strictly because they were able to contain Russell Wilson for almost the entire game – minus the last 4 minutes. Which was understandable, when the Dolphins lost Mario Williams and Cam Wake. The starting two defensive ends were on the sideline, alongside, our Earl Mitchell, the Dolphins starting tackle. Injuries happen in the NFL, even Russell Wilson, was nursing a sore ankle. It’s not an excuse, the points is, the Dolphins were supposedly supposed to get blown out by over 15 points, but they lost a game where they should have potentially won.
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Speaking of playing well, let’s run a few names down the list:
Jason Allen, Chris Crocker, Louis Delmas, Michael Thomas, Walt Aikens, and Chris Clemons.
Any of the above players sound familiar? They were once allocated to start for the Miami Dolphins at the Free Safety position. Needless to say, none of them have a starting job, and a few aren’t even in the NFL. The first signing that Vance orchestrated after becoming the Dolphins coordinator was signing a safety that could pair with Reshad Jones. Joseph has finally stopped merry-go-round of players and Ladies and Gentlemen, may I finally say that the Dolphins have a legit safety pairing, something that has been foreign for this team since Brock Marion and Sammy Knight suited the aqua and teal.
Isa Abdul-Quddus aka IQ, brings exactly that to our team; intelligence. Intelligence is exactly what you want from your last line of defense. IQ pairing with Jones showed a glimpse of what the Dolphins have been dying to see for years, a legit two player combination that allows Joseph to player an interchangeable safety combination by confusing opposing offenses on zone schema disguises. Other than Mario Williams, IQ, was the best player on the field for the Dolphins last week in Seattle. His impressive week one game was something that Dolphin fans have been waiting to see.
Similar to Joseph signing, IQ signing with the Dolphins was met by the media with harsh remarks. Some media experts bashing the Dolphins for allocating over 4 million in cap space to a player that has only started 4 games in his NFL career. “A backup safety and an okay special team’s player” was the label on IQ. Last week’s performance, not only proved those media experts were wrong, but that these two new additions our exactly what the Dolphins needed in order to take that next step.
That next step, is respect and Joseph has mine.