Brian Flores: ‘It’s about getting 11 guys on the same page’
It’s the first week of June, Reshad Jones.
Come out, come out, wherever you are.
The voluntary portion of the Dolphins’ calendar is over.
Any unexcused absence between now and whenever the Dolphins’ season ends would subject Jones to a fine.
So unless the Dolphins and Jones have an understanding that he stay away from team headquarters — which, given our reporting that the Dolphins are still open to trading him, can’t be dismissed — expect the safety to be there Tuesday when the Dolphins kick off their final week of spring practice.
But in what capacity?
Certainly not as an automatic starter, based on coach Brian Flores’ “there are no sacred cows” comments last week.
Instead, he will presumably get much of his work with the backups, so long as his shoulder has healed enough from offseason surgery to practice.
But if the Dolphins don’t trade Jones, he will assuredly work his way up the depth chart at some point. He’s owed too much money ($13 million in base salary, including $11 million guaranteed) to ride the bench.
And yet, the two-time Pro Bowler better know that his role will change under Flores, perhaps dramatically.
The Dolphins have a logjam at safety, with Jones, T.J. McDonald, Minkah Fitzpatrick and now Bobby McCain, who has worked at free safety this spring with Jones away from the team.
But Drew Rosenhaus, who represents McCain and several other Dolphins players, suggested on WSVN-7 Sunday that the Dolphins might play them all — plus whoever wins the boundary corner job opposite Howard (Eric Rowe seems to be the front-runner).
Rosenhaus, who is in close contact with the organization, said the Dolphins could join the growing number of teams who use corners at safety to maximize athleticism.
So what would that mean for Jones?
Perhaps another platoon situation — which, as we all remember from last year, is not his preference. He and McDonald have similar skill sets, so there could be times, particularly when the Dolphins use a seven-man front, that one of them is off the field.
But even in that scenario, Jones wouldn’t be a part-time player. Not really.
Because 3-4 will be the Dolphins’ base defense in name only, if Flores — as expected — brings the Patriots’ defense to Miami.
In 2018, the Patriots had five or more secondary players on the field for a staggering 77 percent of their defensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. They were in nickel (five defensive backs) half of the time. And more than a quarter of New England’s plays were in dime (six defensive backs).
By way of comparison, the Dolphins ran just one snap of dime all year.
And here’s something even wilder: The Patriots used lineups with three defensive linemen, two linebackers and six defensive backs one out of every five defensive plays last year. The league average for that formation is 3 percent.
So that could explain why the Dolphins are comfortable with their current, largely anonymous crop of defensive ends. While the league puts a premium on that position, the Dolphins have not, at least yet. Perhaps it’s because their scheme simply doesn’t need them.
What the scheme does call for, however, is a bunch of athletic, versatile defensive backs.
And Jones, assuming he’s still a Dolphin on Sept. 8, should expect to be one of them.