David Long was brought in from the Tennessee Titans in the offseason to be a complimentary piece in the linebacking unit starting next to Jerome Baker. Through the first six games, his play was average. Early in the season, he had even been replaced in some packages by Andrew Van Ginkel.
I know a lot of fans out there will say that the key to improving the defense is better play out of Christian Wilkins or Zach Seiler. They're not completely wrong. Wilkins' play has been improving the last couple of games and Seiler is as steady as he has ever been.
I however disagree with the idea that the key to stopping the run is in their hands. They can make an impact, but the biggest impact they can make is keeping the offensive lineman off of our two inside linebackers.
Jerome Baker has been fine for Miami for years now and he will continue to play his steady role. Long though, he can be a difference maker. If you watched the game against the Eagles he had multiple big plays against the run and against the pass.
On one play you can see him fly through the A gap and get wrapped around the head by Jason Kelce, no flag was thrown, but those are the types of plays he can bring. He can be a downhill linebacker who makes plays behind the line of scrimmage. Early in the year he struggled to catch on to the defensive scheme and it looks like things started to come together this past week.
Prior to his collision with Jevon Holland while in coverage, he had 3 tackles and a pass defensed. He got into the backfield multiple times making life uncomfortable for Deandre Swift and not allowing time for the blocks to get set up.
This defense was missing multiple pieces on Sunday vs the Eagles and each of them has a role in this defense. Xavien Howard and Jalen Ramsey will be a top-five cornerback duo at a minimum once they begin to play together and it was nice to see Jaelan Phillips back playing and on less of a snap count. But the key run stopper will be David Long and with the pass rush Miami can put on the field and the lockdown corners, it will be David Long's job to be that run stopper.