The PhinPhanatic staff will recap each Miami Dolphins player as we head all await the start of NFL free agency. Today we highlight Dolphins cornerback Tony Lippett.
Coming into the NFL isn’t easy. Coming into the NFL and changing from playing offense in college to defense in the pro’s almost seems impossible to us fans.
That’s exactly what Tony Lippett did. For those that don’t know, Lippett was a wide receiver at Michigan State. In his Senior season for the Spartans he caught 65 passes for 1,198 yards and 11 touchdowns.
To make the transition to defense seem even more impressive, Lippett recorded a total of 23 tackles in college and a majority of them coming his Freshman year. Entering his rookie season in 2015 he had five tackles under his belt in the previous three years.
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Lippett didn’t see a lot of action his rookie year. Appearing in only nine games he had 13 tackles and one pass deflection.
In his second season, however, he was forced to grow up real quick. From a wide receiver two years prior to starting cornerback for the Miami Dolphins. Little did anyone think that would happen this year but after a horrendous start to the season from Byron Maxwell and an injury to rookie Xavien Howard, head coach Adam Gase and former defensive coordinator Vance Joseph had no choice.
Lippett’s first start of his career came in week four against the Cincinnati Bengals this season. Once he got on the field he didn’t look back starting every game the rest of the season. There was a lot of talk regarding his starting position late in the season once Howard came back from his injury. By that time came around he’d done enough to keep his spot.
His real coming out party came against the San Diego Chargers in week 10. With Philip Rivers pressing in the red zone early in the fourth quarter Lippett played perfect zone coverage, recording his first career interception. He recorded his second interception that afternoon in Rivers’ last attempt to seal the victory for Miami.
Lippett continued to play solid the rest of the season. He finished the year with 67 total tackles and four inteceptions, the latter two turnovers coming in week 15 against the New York Jets.
While Lippett played great at times he wasn’t perfect. Towards the tail end of the season – specifically the final six weeks of the season – he allowed a 119.3 passer rating when targeted by opposing quarterbacks. That list includes quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick, Bryce Petty, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tyrod Taylor.
It didn’t get any better in the playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. On Antonio Browns first touchdown Lippett failed to contain the sideline, jumping inside and giving Brown room to run down the sideline. He was also on coverage on Brown’s second touchdown as he was too aggressive trying to defend the pass and ultimately missed a chance of making a tackle.
Although it was a rough ending to the year Lippett showed promise. At 6’3″ and 193 lbs he has the size many defenses covet in a cornerback this day in age. But Miami may still be looking at another piece to add to the secondary this offseason.
Gase will have a decision to make: does he stick with the Maxwell/Lippett/Howard trio or does he address the position in the NFL draft?