Armando Salguero

Byron Maxwell in the doghouse for good reason but not the one you think

Miami Dolphins cornerback Byron Maxwell causes the Jets running back Elijah McGuire to fumble in the fourth quarter of a game two weeks ago.
Miami Dolphins cornerback Byron Maxwell causes the Jets running back Elijah McGuire to fumble in the fourth quarter of a game two weeks ago. adiaz@miamiherald.com

It really makes no sense for the Miami Dolphins to cut cornerback Byron Maxwell now.

Such a move would represent a significant cap hit. It would get rid of a player -- admittedly perplexing one -- at a position of need. And after losing Tony Lippett for the season to an Achilles’ injury, the Dolphins are not long on talent at the position anyway.

But is Maxwell in the doghouse now? Yes. And he’s not exactly digging himself out lately, either.

On Wednesday Maxwell told colleague Barry Jackson he didn’t think the benching is right

“ ... in no way, shape, did I think my play [warranted] that,” Maxwell said. “It's a coach's decision. Sometimes you have to deal with it. I'm a team player. Suck it up. Obviously, you think you're the best man to do the job. You can't control it. Everyone is trying to support your family trying to do the job.”

And by saying this stuff Maxwell frustrates the coaching staff more.

You see, Maxwell is benched in part because his play the first two weeks of the season was sub-par. But it was worse than that. Maxwell played poorly while failing to play defenses called by the coaching staff.

You know how everyone wondered why he didn’t play press-man very much against the Jets? Why he bailed out at the snap of the ball or was five-to-six yards off receivers on seemingly every play?

Dolphins coaches were also wondering. Because they called for him to be playing press man a good amount of those plays against the Jets.

Except Maxwell apparently decided to play different technique on his own. Maybe it was because he thought he saw something. Maybe it was because he didn’t want to let the receiver get behind him. Maybe it was because he was lacking confidence.

That didn’t change the fact the coaching staff got a little hot because, well, if players are told to play one assignment and decide not to do it, that’s a problem. I believe it’s called insubordination.

So Maxwell doesn’t think getting benched for that is warranted?

The issue is so important to the Dolphins that they have not just stuck Maxwell behind rookie Cordrea Tankersley, who is now the new starting cornerback where Maxwell used to play. Coaches also have Maxwell playing behind Alterraun Verner this week.

I’m told Verner practiced ahead of Maxwell with the first unit on Wednesday because starter Xavien Howard missed practice with a shoulder injury.

And this is interesting because Verner is not necessarily better than Maxwell. Yes, Maxwell gave up catches against the Jets. But Verner got into that game and gave up a 69-yard touchdown on his second play of the afternoon. He got toasted for a deep pass, which is the mortal sin for an NFL cornerback.

But because Verner played the coverages and techniques coaches asked him to play, Verner is ahead of Maxwell now.

Maxwell may or may not be active against the Titans on Sunday depending on whether Howard is healthy and how well Jordan Lucas, who was added from the practice squad on Tuesday performs during the week of practice.

Finally there is this: The Dolphins can handle a player who is struggling physically. A cornerback gets beat, he can be rehabilitated from that. He can work back from that. But a player who for whatever reason doesn’t play the right technique as mandated, without reason, and then complains publicly he doesn’t understand why he’s benched, is a more serious issue.

Maxwell might find that’s a tough one to recover from anytime soon.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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