Each week, the Locked On Dolphins team will look to provide you with the latest quotes from your team’s coaches, players and front office executives. We will let you know what are they saying and interpret what it really means for the Miami Dolphins.
As we progress through minicamp, we’re able to hear some players and coaches speak for the first time since the 2017 season.
A lot transpired in the 2017 season, and, needless to say, 2018 should look a lot different.
Below is a breakdown of what Matt Burke had to say in their press conferences after the 2nd day of minicamp concluded:
On the evaluation process this early in the offseason:
When asked what he could evaluate right now, Matt Burke answered as bluntly and as honestly as he could: “Nothing”.
Burke understands that minicamp isn’t a fluid representation of the real NFL season. He mentioned how tough it was to evaluate linebackers without pads and alluded to evaluating players based on their knowledge of the scheme rather than performance.
“It’s more of a mental evaluation….how much are they picking up the nuances of the defense?”
And that’s where Miami’s defense should see a vast improvement.
Most of the roster is returning from last season; there aren’t too many players that need to learn the vocabulary or their alignment within the scheme. This offseason should focus on refining what they already know, rather than having to teach something new.
Having a capable offense is another step in getting the defense prepared.
Miami has been unable to cover tight ends and scat backs in games because they’ve never had to cover any in practice before, and Burke seems to hint at this when talking about how his defense will improve due to the added abilities Miami added on offense.
“I think it’s great going against our offense with the receiving corp we have and the tight ends we have now and the backs.”
On defensive end Robert Quinn:
“He is a unique athlete.”
Burke couldn’t stop glowing about the athleticism Quinn brings to Miami.
“He has rare bendability….he bends as good as anybody I’ve been around. It’s weird to watch sometimes.” Bendability is not a real word, but we’re able to picture exactly what Burke is talking about.
One of the biggest aspects to beating an offensive tackle is a defensive end’s ability to get low to the ground. Do they have the balance and awareness to be able to maintain their center of gravity at such an awkward angle?
If an offensive tackle can’t get his hands on you, it’s most likely going to lead to a penalty or a broken play. Being able to bend below a tackle’s reach is crucial to getting to the quarterback. Burke is excited to pair Quinn’s athleticism with Cameron Wake‘s; something they thought they had with Andre Branch after 2016, but learned may not be the case as 2017 progressed.
On Cam Wake’s snap count:
Burke had plenty to say about Wake’s performance in conjunction with his age, most of which we have already heard and know…he’s an enigma.
What we don’t know is how Burke plans to use him as he continues to age yet produce.
“Our plan will be to wave groups….we’ll be better off having fresh guys. We want guys going full speed for as many reps as they can.”
Miami has a bunch of (expensive) talent at defensive end. Between Wake, Quinn, Branch, William Hayes and Charles Harris, Miami should have enough depth to essentially send out two different waves of starting units. Barring an injury, there should be no excuse for Miami’s defensive line to slow down as the season gets older (like they have in the past).
“Our goal is to have enough depth to be able to wave those guys and always have fresh (players) out there.”
On Eric Reid and if he deserves to be on a roster:
Burke played coy when asked about former San Francisco 49ers safety, Eric Reid. Knowing this is a hot-topic that transcends the sport itself, Burke toed the company line when asked if he thinks Reid deserves to be on an NFL roster:
“I haven’t evaluated Eric Reid. I know he has played a lot of football in this league and has had some level of success. That wasn’t part of our evaluation process this offseason.”
On the team’s undrafted free agents:
“Those guys have flashed at times. (Cornerback) Jalen Davis has done a little bit. The linebackers have had their moments. (Linebacker) Mike McCray had a pick yesterday and Jalen has been battling in the slot and on the outside. (Linebacker) Cayson (Collins) has shown a little ability to absorb some things, he has some savy about him.”
If the 2018 undrafted free agent class is anywhere near as good as in the past, Miami should find a viable player for their roster. Last year, linebacker Chase Allen signed as an undrafted free agent and logged significant time on both defense (219 snaps; 4 starts) and special teams (355 snaps).
On Minkah Fitzpatrick:
It seems like the Dolphins are getting exactly what was advertised in Minkah Fitzpatrick. A (rare) 4-year starter on Nick Saban‘s vaunted Alabama defense, Fitzpatrick was praised for his football IQ, work ethic and dedication.
“I was here really late last night and Minkah popped up to get with (defensive back’s coach) Tony Oden…until about 9:30 last night” trying to catch up on things and continue to learn a professional offense.
Similar to what we heard about Fitzpatrick’s versatility, Burke reinforced that Fitzpatrick has been learning multiple positions in the secondary.
“(We’re) moving him around in some different spots….to get a feel for what his best fit is, what the best way to utilize him is….and he’s responded well.”
If you hadn’t heard Minkah’s press conference yesterday, check it out. If he plays as well as he speaks the Dolphins are going to have a perennial pro-bowler.
On defensive positions: “We don’t have any positions set in stone right now.”
On Stephone Anthony: “I think it’s good for him to have a full offseason with us. It’s tough coming in and transitioning from one system to another (mid-season).”
On studying/spending extra time: “We’ve been really satisfied” with players coming in early and putting in the extra work. “I have no complaints” with their work ethic.
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