The PhinPhanatic staff will recap each Miami Dolphins player as we head all await the start of NFL free agency. Today highlight the middle of the Dolphins defense, Kiko Alonso.
The 2016 offseason and start of Adam Gase‘s tenure as the Miami Dolphins head coach started off with a bang. The first-year coach made a bold move, making a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles for linebacker Kiko Alonso and cornerback Byron Maxwell.
Both linebacker and cornerback were positions of need and Gase knew that. However, Alonso was injury prone and Maxwell was coming off a horrible season in Philadelphia all while bringing over a hefty contract.
Fast forward to today and the rest is history. Both players made crucial plays throughout the 2016 NFL season that ultimately led to the first playoff birth in Miami since 2008.
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For Alonso it was his first season starting more than two games since his rookie season in Buffalo in 2013. As Dolphins fans can remember Alonso has 189 tackles including four interceptions en route to defensive rookie of the year honors.
After tearing ligaments in his knee just before 2014, Alonso sat out the season. In 2015 he was shipped to Philadelphia in exchange for LeSean McCoy in what was an obvious move for then Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.
In his only season as an Eagle, Alonso started only one game but played in 11, recording 43 tackles and one interception.
I think we all remember that interception.
This year in Miami was much of the same. Alonso showed both grit and athleticism throughout all fifteen starts as he led the middle of Vance Josephs defense. No play, however, may have been bigger than his pick-six against the San Diego Chargers.
You may argue his assisted goal-line stand at the end of the San Francisco 49ers game was bigger and that’s fair. Both plays ultimately won the game for Miami. The beauty of each play shows exactly what the Dolphins have in a pro-bowl caliber player with Alonso and proves exactly why Gase wanted him in South Florda. His versatility to stuff the runner or make the play in coverage makes him great.
Although Alonso made great plays this season it wasn’t all perfect.
The Dolphins defense was under scrutiny – specifically the last month of the season – after numerous poor performances both in the passing and rushing game.
Alonso led a defense that gave up an astounding 190 rushing yards over the course of the final three games, the most in the NFL. Over the course of the season they ranked 31st in rush defense after allowing 142 ypg.
Over the course of 2016 the passing defense was much better – ranking 13th overall – but much of the same could be said down the stretch. The Dolphins allowed 260 ypg through the air over their last three contests.
Many throughout the football community want to see Alonso moved to the outside linebacker position. Scouts throughout the NFL disagree, however, saying he’s best suited as an ILB in a 4-3.
The man formerly responsible for deciding where Alonso plays is now gone. Word is Matt Burke, Miami’s current linebackers coach, will fill the defensive coordinator position in 2017. He’ll decide what’s best for both Alonso and the Dolphins defense.
Whether Alonso continues to play inside or if he gets moved outside one thing is certain: Miami has a linebacker for the future.