The Miami Dolphins entered 2022 with a defensive backfield advertised as a potential top-tier unit within a unit. On paper, and on the strength of a 2021 season in which the defense helped Miami win eight of their final nine games, 2022 could have been another leap for the group, but last year was a tale of another secondary.
2021 had a defense that was manned by then-head coach Brian Flores, who despite an arduous exit from the team following Week 18, had the blueprint of his “zero-blitz” scheme left with defensive coordinator Josh Boyer.
Even though a new regime of coaches came to Miami in 2022, Boyer was retained through the shuffle. After a sub-par season, he was fired a few days following the Dolphins’ playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills. Boyer, of course, had to deal with not only a slew of injuries on his defense, especially in the secondary, but veteran cornerback Byron Jones didn’t play a snap all season due to complications in his recovery from Achilles surgery.
Jones, who was signed in 2020 to play opposite Xavien Howard, arguably didn’t live up to his expectations and will be officially cut on June 1, thus ending the three-year relationship between him and the Dolphins.
Boyer, who was the defensive coordinator with Flores for two seasons, and one last year with Mike McDaniel, is now out, and Jones is gone as well. In, are new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and superstar defensive back Jalen Ramsey, whom the Dolphins traded for in March.
Further adding some pop to the secondary was their 2023 second-round pick, South Carolina’s cornerback Cam Smith. Smith was a surprise selection when his name was written down by general manager Chris Grier and then called by Dolphins’ offensive lineman Terron Armstead, who was guest-calling the selection at the podium in Kansas City back in April.
Despite the initial surprise around Dolphin circles, when thinking about the significance of the Smith pick, it made tremendous sense for a few reasons. Primarily, the additions of Ramsey and Smith add to Howard, and second-year rising star in 2022 undrafted free agent Kader Kohou. Another undrafted free-agent cornerback is also set to return for Miami, that being Nik Needham. Needham and Kohou can be flexible as boundary corners as well as slot defenders.
With last season’s injury woes, a deep secondary is something Miami needs as necessary insurance, as well as thinking long-term, as they have a number of young players within the group to add to…