Every team would seem to benefit from mentors, especially a team as young as the Miami Dolphins.
During free agency, there were many older players that might fill this role toward younger players and there still are some out there. However, the Miami Dolphins went for younger players, with Kyle Van Noy being the oldest at 29. The next oldest is 27, with fiver players sharing this designation, of all the FA players, picked up this off-season.
How important is this? Last season ended quite well and the team was even younger and less experienced. After losing the first seven games they won five of the last nine games.
Could this be by design? It seems unlikely that general manager Chris Grier would spend almost one hundred million dollars of team owner Steven Ross’ money with out getting any input from head coach Brian Flores on the makeup of said players.
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So it could be by design, Flores might have liked how his first year coaching played out from scratch and wanted to have something the same coming back for a second try at it. However… his coaching staff has turned over, with new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey coming out of retirement. He will be turning 68 on January 5th and might be able to provide mentoring on offense along with his new system.
Kyle Van Noy: We are our own team, not the New England Patriots. He can say that all he wants but the defense he plays on is very much like it, and so would the offense if the players could have picked it up.
I suspect we will still see elements of it on offense, like how big player rooms are and the rotation of them even though Chan Gailey is now the coordinator. Particularly at running back and having one as the main pass catcher more than the other who we be more of the main runner. Some are speculating that Malcolm Perry who was picked in the seventh round with the last pick to be groomed for that pass-catching role. While that might be interesting I still hold my view that it will be Matt Breida who is still young and still blazingly fast, in fact he holds the record for open speed running for a few seasons.
While the defense is structured already with versatility and coach Brian Flores can teach it well, Van Noy could also be of use to instill the techniques needed to run it, to the younger players. He has the it factor, being aware of his surroundings and has a nose for where the ball is and an ability to go and get it across an open field. This sort of thing can not be taught but a little of it might rub off on others.
But how many others are there like Van Noy on the team? This team overall is very young. Outside of 38-year-old quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, cornerback Byron Jones is the only other potential starter close in age to Van Noy according to Pro Football Reference
One other factor is how different the off-season training will be due to COVID-19. On the surface, it would seem that veterans could provide rookies some insight here, but what they might be getting is shortcuts, and at best it might be a wash. Hard to fathom. To reiterate Flores might favor a build-up from ground zero in this circumstance as well.
It worked out in the first year being more inexperienced and even younger. More mentors don’t seem to be coming and it might fall to chance, like certain players being cut or not being able to come to the terms of a contract from other teams that could fit with the plans the Miami Dolphins are lying down.