To say the Dolphins are banged up is an understatement. Miami will start the game with Melvin Ingram manning one edge position. A player signed a month ago on December 12th. His backup…signed two days ago. Miami isn’t looking for a pity party. This is the NFL, this is the playoffs, and teams are banged up. The question is, how does Miami’s defensive coordinator Vic Fangio employ the new faces this week against the Kansas City Chiefs?
As stated already, the Miami Dolphins made several moves this week to bolster their depleted edge group after losing Andrew Van Ginkel and Cameron Goode to season-ending injuries last week to go with the previous losses of Jaelen Phillips and Bradley Chubb. Miami brought in Justin Houston, Bruce Irvin, and Malik Reed as reinforcements. This would have been a very formidable group if it were 2016.
The weird thing is, I think this group can be adequate to somewhat good, but that is going to depend on Vic Fangio. The Dolphins have a short week having to play on Saturday night in Kansas City. Nowhere near enough time to learn a playbook. Fangio’s job will be to put these guys in favorable play calls when they are in the game because make no mistake about it, they will be on the field Saturday. Emmanuel Ogbah and Melvin Ingram will not be able to take all the snaps in this one.
When these new guys are in, Fangio needs to employ the “see ball, get ball” mindset. Forget about twists, stunts, and defensive line games. Let these guys use their natural ability to win reps. They may be on the older side of an NFL player, but they might just have enough left in the tank to make a play or two.
If I’m Fangio I’m playing a lot of nickel coverage in this one, even though this may be a heavy run emphasis game. I’m going to rely on my two studs in the middle of the defensive line, Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler to do what they do. They have to play well. I’m letting whatever edge guys are on the field, do what they need to do. David Long Jr. and Duke Riley also have to play well. Long has been great for the Dolphins this season. Riley, not so much.
He started strong after Jerome Baker went out the first time but has not played as well over the past several weeks. On the back end, assuming Holland is a go, I’m rotating Kader Kohu and Brandon Jones in at the nickel position. If this turns into a running game as many think it may, Jones is going to be on the field for me much more than Kader. Jones has been excellent in the running game. He has that “see ball, get ball” mentality. While not great in coverage, I think he’s a better fit than Kader this week.
That’s what I would do and I’m obviously not Vic Fangio. Fangio has been dubbed by many as one of the greatest defensive minds the NFL has ever seen, if there’s ever a time to show it, it is this week.