Monday, November 29, 2021

Miami Dolphins defense just got weaker

As news broke on Tuesday evening that Xavien Howard was seeking a trade, the Miami Dolphins defense suffered it’s biggest hit of the off-season. The release of Kyle Van Noy may have been unexpected, but it was planned by the front office. The release of Bobby McCain was the same.

In both cases the brass had it planned out to cut costs and replace those players with equal or better options. But X has thrown a big curveball this off-season that Brian Flores can only have hoped would be avoided. yes it’s been coming, Howard has been clear that he wants to be paid what he’s worth.

It’s a position that is hard to argue with. The Dolphins cut players when the contract doesn’t suit the level of play so why shouldn’t the best player on the roster ask for more money when he outperforms his deal? You can’t have it both ways.

Or maybe you’re more of the players should honour their contracts regardless. It’s up to the team to decide what players earn, not the other way around. And while that may be the position the media is taking with Xavien Howard, it’s not the one they are taking with Aaron Rodgers.

MIAMI DOLPHINS DEFENSE IS WEAKER

Whichever direction you come at this situation from the Miami Dolphins defense just got weaker. In all probability we’re looking at a first, and maybe a second round pick in return for one of the top cornerbacks in the league.

That leaves Byron Jones on one side, and likely either Noah Igbinoghene or Jason McCourty on the other. While McCourty has been touted for a move to safety, I think you’d have to expect him to be pencilled in the CB2 spot on the Miami Dolphins defense right now.

No that doesn’t mean Noah Igbinoghene won’t be a starter on the Miami Dolphins defense in the future, but he may not be ready this season to start on a defense that has playoff credentials.

Statistically the drop off from Xavien Howard to Igbinoghene and McCourty is scary. Whether you approve of Howard’s play for a better deal or not he is in elite company when it comes to his performance.

Has he missed a lot of time with injury? Absolutely. But the same could be said of a lot of this Dolphins’ roster starting with this years rookies, and starting QB Tua Tagovailoa, so that shouldn’t be too much of a consideration.

So how big is the dropoff?

TGTSINTPBUFISEASONTGTSINTPBUFI
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XAVIEN HOWARD STATS(LEFT) THE REST OF THE MIAMI DOLPHINS DEFENSE COMBINED (RIGHT)

In 303 career targets Xavien Howard has 22 interceptions, that’s just one more than the rest of the Miami Dolphins defense has combined for in the same time span on 2,227 targets. And that’s despite the fact he has missed time with injuries.

Still not convinced that X is elite? Try this:

HOWARDJONESIGBINOGHENEMcCOURTYRAMSEYHUMPHREYREVIS
INT%7.26%0.95%2.00%2.70%2.23%4.05%
PBU%11.22%8.77%3.57%9.23%10.36%10.86%12.64%
TARGETS30342228899444359791
TD-INT17-234-253-037-1813-1212-826-32

Clearly including Noah Igbinoghene in this comparison is harsh on the kid, but it demonstrates, on what we’ve seen so far, the gulf between Howard and his possible replacement. Jason McCourty has had a much better career but whether he still has it at 33+ is debatable.

Whether you’re an Xavien Howard fan or not, his numbers thus far in his career are elite. He has more career interceptions than Jones, Igbinoghene, and McCourty combined while allowing 27 less touchdowns.

So make no mistake the Miami Dolphins defense is weaker as we look at things this morning. Can Brian Flores work his magic? Can Noah Igbinoghene become an elite shutdown corner? We can only hope at this point.

It’s a real shame that the Dolphins and Xavien Howard couldn’t work this out, because this is a terrible turn just as training camp opens.

It doesn’t mean that Grier and Flores can’t work things out, get a good trade and make it golden in a few years. But it does mean that the Miami Dolphins defense is weaker as we head towards the 2021 season.

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