With the recent success of young pass-rushing studs — think along the lines of Denver’s Von Miller and San Francisco’s Aldon Smith — the bar was set impossibly high when the Dolphins traded up to take Dion Jordan in April’s draft.
Playing time has been sparse the first three games of the season, with Jordan playing less than half the Dolphins’ defensive snaps in each game. But with a knee injury putting Cameron Wake’s status in doubt for Monday night’s game, Jordan should see an increased workload in New Orleans if last Sunday is any indication.
With Wake healthy and terrorizing quarterbacks as usual, Jordan played just 22 percent of the defensive snaps in the season opener and only 11 percent in Indianapolis in Week 2. With Wake’s injury Sunday, Jordan was on the field for 42 percent of the defensive snaps, along with continuing contributions on special teams.
“I think we’re seeing more and more of Dion, and he’s getting better,” defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said Monday.
“The fact is we want to expand his role, and he showed things in the game [Sunday] which lead us to believe that we can continue to keep feeding him more.”
Coyle said he thought Jordan played well Sunday, even if he wasn’t filling up the stat sheet.
Coyle said that film study afterward revealed that Jordan hit Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan’s arm on the Falcons’ last play, when Jimmy Wilson grabbed the game-sealing interception.
“I work hard during the week to go out there and perform if my name is called,” Jordan said. “It was short notice in that game. I had to step up and just be a factor for our team.”
Jordan said that his improvement on the field is due to a sense of professionalism he has picked up from other members of the defense.
“I get to see a lot of guys that have been doing it for a long time,’’ he said, “and been playing at a high level here.”
Although the Dolphins have already won two road games, they have yet to deal with a crowd as boisterous as they will likely see in New Orleans on Monday night. For some younger players, the prime-time lights will make the game a special experience.
“I’m starting to think about it now,” Jordan said. “It just adds a little bit more excitement to it, especially with it being in New Orleans — it makes it that much better.
“I’m really excited — not just me, but all the guys here. We’re going against a great opponent, and everyone is going to be watching.”
Although Monday will provide the team with a chance to make a statement to the entire country, they will have to deal with a hostile New Orleans crowd that’s notoriously loud for night games.
“We’re expecting a hostile environment,” center Mike Pouncey said. “Their crowd has always been a very good crowd, so this week in practice we’re going to practice a lot of crowd noise and working on our snap count — silent snap count.
“We’ve just got to go out there and do a good job communicating. We know it’s going to be very loud. I think something we’ve done well all year is communication, so it has to continue on Monday night.”
Facing top QBs
Monday’s contest against Drew Brees and the Saints will mark the third consecutive game in which the Dolphins defense has faced a big-name quarterback.
Linebacker Philip Wheeler said he thinks Brees is one of the four best quarterbacks in the league, and he said he is looking forward to the challenge.
“Personally, I like playing tough opponents,” Wheeler said. “It brings out the best in me, personally, and I think it brings out the best in our defense. It also gives us notoriety that we’re playing against good quarterbacks and good teams.”