Miami Dolphins

Why the Dolphins believe your evaluation of Kiko Alonso is wrong (and more from Indy)

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce catches a first down pass in front of Miami Dolphins middle linebacker Kiko Alonso in Week 16.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce catches a first down pass in front of Miami Dolphins middle linebacker Kiko Alonso in Week 16. jsleezer@kcstar.com

Don’t drag Kiko Alonso in Adam Gase’s presence.

And certainly don’t do it at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Gase bristled in Indianapolis last week when we pointed out that Alonso of 2016 was not the Alonso of 2017.

“He had the same amount of tackles this year as last year, right?” Gase responded.

Yes, he did; Alonso had 115 in each of the past two years.

But tackles are an unreliable way of evaluating defensive players. A tackle five yards past the line of scrimmage is nowhere near as valuable as one five yards behind the line of scrimmage.

Plus, he had some pretty obvious breakdowns in coverage, right?

“Do you know who was supposed to cover who?” Gase countered. “Was it a safeties issue? Was it him? Was it man-to-man coverage? … Everybody is going to have some issues every once in a while, but I don’t think it was as bad as everybody kind of portrayed it.”

So no, the Dolphins do not believe Alonso was as bad as Pro Football Focus’ view (grading him 75th out of 77 qualifying linebackers in coverage).

PFF, which admittedly does not know the defensive play call and thus cannot say for certain who was responsible for whom, says Alonso was targeted 91 times and allowed 77 receptions — both second-most among linebackers. And those 77 catches went for 810 yards and four touchdowns. All told, quarterbacks had a passer rating of 118.4 when targeting Alonso.

Tight ends in particular seemed to do well against him. Still, Gase saw plenty to like last year.

“When we put him in the right position, and he gets up there and he’s aggressive on them, I think he does a really good job,” Gase said. “When he plays off and kind of waits for that guy to make a move, that’s when we’d rather him be more aggressive and trust the fact that he’s faster than most of these guys. When he does that, that’s usually when he had the most success.”

Is part of putting him in the right position moving him back to his natural position? He had his best years while playing in the middle, but the Dolphins used him on the weakside last year.

“He’s played both,” Gase said. “Our linebackers are so interchangeable. We can put him at either one.”

More news and notes as we empty out our notebook:

▪ Leonte Carroo is probably the biggest draft disappointment of the Gase era. The Dolphins packaged three picks to get him in the third round in 2016. And for those three picks, they been rewarded with 10 whole catches and one touchdown.

“We’re still just bringing him along,” Gase said of Carroo. “I think he has a better feel for the offense. Sometimes it’s tough to find that role when you had those three guys really that we all trusted and didn’t want off the field. We were doing a lot of 11 personnel where all three wideouts were on the field, and when we go to our 12 personnel package it was Jarvis and one of those other two guys. It’s a tough, tough lineup to crack. His biggest thing is always just keep finding a way to get better, and when he gets his opportunity — he’s done a good job when we’ve thrown him in there and he’s made some plays when we needed him to.”

The Dolphins must find a way to replace Jarvis Landry’s production if he indeed has played his final game in a Dolphins uniform. Perhaps Carroo and Jakeem Grant can combine to do it.

Or maybe the Dolphins finally get a play-making tight end.

“That’s always going to be a position we look at and try to figure out what’s going to be best for us for this season,” Gase said. “Anytime that you can have a tight end that can be effective in the pass game and still be effective in the run game and pass protection, that’s what you want there. The last two years we’ve had some movement where guys have been in and out. We’ll kind of see what happens this year. Picking up A.J. [Derby] late last year was good for us. He did some things that really impressed us in practice and we tried to get him involved a little bit in a game. It was good to kind get … that last game was a good experience for us where we played a ton of guys that really hadn’t gotten to play all year, so we at least have a good idea of what those guys can bring to the table.”

▪ While plans are fluid, the sense here is Jesse Davis will be the Dolphins’ starting right guard in 2018, meaning they will have to find a right tackle if they pull Ja’Wuan James’ fifth-year option.

“We’ve had a lot of discussion about this,” Gase said. “For him, really playing the majority of his snaps at right guard, I think he did a good job there. Him and Sam really developed something there toward the end. We’ll just see how everything kinda plays out. We have a lot of time here. We have to make decisions on so many players and kinda see how free agency goes, see how the draft goes. We’ll kinda sort through all this stuff. We want to just try to get as many guys as we can to compete in that room and try to find a way to make ourselves better.”

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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