What the loss of Koa Misi means to the Dolphins linebacker group
Whether Koa Misi retires is not as important as the fact he will miss the entire coming season.
What that means is it leaves a space to fill. The Dolphins had made plans for Misi to return in some form and coach Gase was surprised that Misi had not made it back to being healthy. Although Misi was limited to just 128 snaps last season playing in just three games having started two with only 11 solo tackles and the same amount of assisted ones. It was his prior season that the Dolphins had hoped to draw from when he played and started in 13 games having made 59 solo tackles and 19 assisted.
Misi had only made himself available to play every game of the season in his first rookie season back in 2010. He will be missed.
Although it was unfortunate circumstances surrounding Koa Misi (placed on injured reserve/pending retirement). It does open up opportunities for Neville Hewitt and Mike Hull. Who both showed their worth last season with good play when they were called upon to fill roles due to the plethora of injuries last season.
Just how good were Hewitt and Hull? Let’s take a look.
Hewitt had played 352 snaps on defense last season and three more total snaps on special teams with 355. The most snaps in a game was 56 playing the Bills December 24th where he had 6 solo tackles and 3 assisted. This tied all linebackers that game along with Spencer Paysinger (he will be missed also) who had the same amount. Hewitt ended up with 35 solo tackles and 22 assisted starting in five games. He also had a pass defended, fumbled and recovered a fumble.
Hull started off in grand fashion picking off Cardinals QB Carson Palmer. Not only was it his first and only game started last season, I believe it was his first play in the game. He played 111 snaps on defense and 290 on special teams. This would be good for 7 solo tackles and 8 assisted. That interception on the Cards must have been key as the Dolphins beat them by only three points. He had his most snaps of the season that game with 70 which netted him 2 solo tackles and 6 assisted ones. The linebacker with the most tackles that game was Paysinger again.
Stats from Pro-Football-Reference
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Reports have McMillan being able to man the middle as he has shown an ability to line up players and call plays. Although Lawrence Timmons has ample experience there and has played the middle for the most part coming from the Steelers 3-4 defense. At any rate McMillan will be getting quality insight on the position as Timmons has played it going back many years and Alonso also has some experience.
Adam Gase has said that Raekwon McMillan can make the calls loudly and clearly. And is a smart guy but Kiko Alonso is still involved.
Also Timmons and Alonso are said to be the nickel linebackers when the extra DB is called for running that set that has become so prevalent. Having said all of the above it should be noted that the coaches have been emphasizing a mix and match approach not only with the LB’s but with the whole backfield as well. This off-season has been very heavy with cross training so far.
Timmons and Alonso may be on equal footing when it comes to passing on info to McMillan. Alonso is going into his second season with this defense and knows the calls and terms. Where as Timmons is not only coming from a different defense but one that lines up as a 3-4. However he does have a vast background to work with helping him to convert what is at hand.
Having a good linebacker corps is overly important because the use of the wide nine defense that tends to funnel the run game towards them. And the Miami Dolphins selected McMillan with that in mind as he has had good ratings against the run. And Alonso and Timmons also fit that bill as well.