Sunday, July 21, 2024

Dolphins’ veteran linebacker says Miami’s defense is ‘reloading’ after noticeable turnover this offseason

One of the more underrated storylines of the 2024 offseason has been the turnover that has gone on throughout the Miami Dolphins defense. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio departed the franchise and the club has now ushered in Anthony Weaver to run the unit. On the personnel side, the likes of Christian Wilkins, Xavien Howard, Emmanuel Ogbah, and Jerome Baker are all no longer with the organization. Meanwhile, Miami has brought aboard a number of veterans including Jordan Poyer and Calais Campbell, while spending its first-round pick on pass rusher Chop Robinson

That level of roster turnover is enough to make anyone’s head spin, but there is confidence within the locker room that this side of the ball can deliver in a big way as the Dolphins look ahead to 2024. 

“Yes sir, we’ve got a lot of dogs coming in, some dogs already there,” linebacker David Long Jr. told KPRC 2 Houston. “We’re just reloading. I think the most important thing when it comes to new players and new coaches is the chemistry that comes with time. We built something. The next step is to go to training camp and build from that.”

While there has been a turnstile of coaches and players coming in and out, there are some mainstays. Along with Long, the Dolphins have Jalen Ramsey and Jevon Holland still lurking in the secondary. Miami also still boasts pass rushers Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb. However, they are two of the biggest question marks as we try to decipher how high the Dolphins’ ceiling is on defense as they are both coming off of season-ending injuries in 2023. If they are able to return to their former selves in relatively short order, Miami is a dark horse to be a top-five unit in the league. 

Of course, how Weaver makes all the pieces fit is another question that needs to be answered. For Long, who is coming off his first season with the Dolphins and logged a career-high 113 tackles last year, he is looking forward to picking up where he left off, albeit under a new DC. 

“Same thing as last year, new system, new coaches,” Long said. “It was kind of difficult to get in a rhythm, especially earlier in the year when I wasn’t playing as much. Now, I’m in a place where I’m comfortable. I’m back to where I’m supposed to be. Right now, everything is what it’s supposed to be. Whether it’s the chemistry, the health, which is very important to me and my mental, that’s all good.”

At the moment, the Dolphins have the third-best odds to win the AFC East, looking up at the Buffalo Bills (the betting favorite) and New York Jets. That said, if this defense can mesh quickly to pair with their high-flying offense, Mike McDaniel’s club possesses some intriguing value. 

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