Dion Jordan can’t seem to catch a break. Dion Jordan is also kind of lucky.
For sure, with his injury history, negligible impact on games and now his four-game suspension, Jordan’s first 16 months in the NFL have not gone according to plan.
And yet, the Dolphins are deep at defensive end, so they’ve been able to largely make due without him.
Plus, he plays in a city where the No. 3 overall pick is given a bit of time to actually prove himself before someone foolishly writes him off as a bust — even though he has never taken a truly healthy snap in the league.
But even the most patient fan base (and front office) wants to see something from the first defensive player taken in the 2013 draft, preferably as soon as Jordan gets back from his four-game NFL suspension for taking a banned substance.
Jordan expects nothing less.
“I’m going into my second year now, and I am looking forward to that big game where I come up and make big-time plays for our team and win these games,” Jordan said Sunday.
So why hasn’t it happened yet, including in Friday night’s preseason opener in Atlanta, when Jordan wasn’t a factor despite 32 snaps on defense?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m not sure. Last year, I played a few [number of] snaps, so it was a little different for myself. But I’m going to have opportunities going forward, so it just comes down to me just going out there and getting it done.”
With his surgically repaired shoulder finally healthy, Jordan spent the offseason in the weight room. He added 17 pounds of muscle since the Dolphins last played a regular-season game. (It should be noted that Jordan failed a performance-enhancing drug test during that time and acknowledged taking “stimulants.”)
Stronger and healthier than at any point in his career, Jordan believes he is now big enough to tussle with tackles in running situations. He expects to play “a lot more” in the base defense, whereas he was predominantly a passing-down substitute as a rookie.
“But [shoot], I’m here to pass rush,” Jordan said. “So they’ll use me for it, I bet.”
He did get pressure on the quarterback once against the Falcons but couldn’t finish off the sack. That was a problem a year ago, when Jordan had just two sacks despite hurrying the quarterback 18 times.
Still, his play against the Falcons drew praise from Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, who said Jordan’s work against the run Friday was his best as a professional.
As for actually finishing off the rush and getting those elusive sacks?
“I think, No. 1, we want to keep seeing the get-off,” Philbin said. “He has a very good get-off. Obviously, people are aware. He got chipped a couple of times. He got double-teamed a few times. He’s got to develop that sense of when that could occur, how to counter that, and I think it’s a matter of technique. His get-off is good, his motor is good. I think those will come.”
Part of the problem is Jordan has been used differently as a professional than he was at Oregon. He was a blitzing linebacker there and didn’t need to worry about outmuscling an offensive lineman. He simply ran around them.
“A guy like myself, I don’t feel like I need too many moves,” Jordan said. “As long as I’ve got speed. It’s like Cam Wake. You don’t need too many moves if you’ve got speed. As long as he’s able to use that whenever he needs it, he’s good.”
Jordan has three more chances to prove speed is enough before disappearing for a month. During his suspension, he can’t so much as even step foot on team property.
Of his forced, unpaid vacation, Jordan said: “I’m over it, man, to be honest. I understand it is what it is. So I’ve got to get my work in right now to prepare for that situation. So when it arises, I’m going to deal with it and be back and ready to work.”
Jordan added: “I’m here for one thing — that’s to help my team win games. Whatever coaches ask me to do, I’m going to go out there and do it. At the same time, I feel like I have a long career ahead of me in this league. There’s no reason for me to put all this pressure on myself when I understand that I’m going to be here for a while.”