Miami Dolphins

Dolphins coaches ‘handcuffed’ defensive players in 2015, Michael Thomas says

Defensive back Michael Thomas believes that the Dolphins’ ‘vanilla’ play calls hurt the defense in 2015.
Defensive back Michael Thomas believes that the Dolphins’ ‘vanilla’ play calls hurt the defense in 2015. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Miami Dolphins coaches “babied” Ryan Tannehill last year, Greg Jennings famously said recently.

But that’s old news. Here’s something new: the same dynamic might have hurt the team on the other side of the ball

That same coaching staff also “handcuffed” players on defense, Michael Thomas recently told 120 Sports. But new coordinator Vance Joseph has made clear that the group will “not be so vanilla” in 2016.

Appearing as a guest on the webcast, Thomas said that Dolphins defenders “were limited to how many plays we could call, what type of plays we could call.”

As a result, the Dolphins had their worst statistical season on defense in years. Miami ranked 25th in yards allowed (376.2 per game) and 19th in points (24.3) in 2015.

And who was in charge of that defense for the season’s last 12 games? Lou Anarumo, who survived the coaching change and has gone back to leading Thomas and the Dolphins’ secondary this year.

Some (but certainly not all) of the reason the Dolphins struggled: Ndamukong Suh didn’t dominate in the way he had in Detroit. Suh was left out of the Pro Bowl for just the second time in his career.

Thomas gave some insight why.

“He wasn’t put in position to make plays, like a lot of us,” Thomas explained. “I wasn’t put in position to make plays because of injuries, I had to play out of position. We were very vanilla last year. It wasn’t all our defensive coaches. We had to work with what we had. It was very vanilla. Other teams knew it was very vanilla.”

Thomas added: “This is going to be an entirely different product you see on the field this year.”

Thomas, one of the team’s best special team contributors, was excited about the recent addition of safety Isa Abdul-Quddus, because it will allow him to focus on what he believes is his best position: slot cornerback.

“We’ll be more physical up there, have better lineups,” Thomas added.

The Dolphins will begin their two-month offseason program on Monday.

▪ The Dolphins on Tuesday claimed cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who was waived earlier this week by the Cleveland Browns.

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

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