When the Dolphins signed Byron Jones back in March to the largest guaranteed contract ever given to a defensive back, it’s fair to say people took notice. Many people began to ask if the Dolphins have their next Sam & Pat on the roster as well. People took notice not just because it was a big contract signed by a coveted free agent. It was because they had just made their other star DB, cornerback Xavien Howard, the league’s highest-paid CB in May of last year. So why would a team, who would appear to be so far from the promise land, spend this kind of dough to lock down one position? Aren’t there other holes to fill? Aren’t there other needs where this money could’ve been spread around to use on a few quality NFL starters?
But that wasn’t Coach Flores’s move.
What he did equates to walking into a board room full of C-level executives and pushing all your chips to the center of the table. He’s all in. He paid his dues last year. He paid lots of peoples’ dues last year. And he’s earned the right, in my opinion, to make this kind of move.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) June 24, 2020
The upside to this move is limitless. Having 2 shut down corners on the outside provides unlimited options for a defense. It can make up for a lackluster pass rush or bolster an explosive one. It can hide deficiencies or highlight greatness. We’ve seen it in the past. Sam Madison and Pat Surtain were arguably the greatest CB combo the Fins defense has ever had, at least in recent history. I’m sure some of the ’72 crowd has other opinions, and I respect that. Their best seasons together were from 2000-2004, when they were both full-time starters. During those years, the Dolphins defense finished in the top 10 in points against, each year, with 2 playoff appearances. Yes, the defense had incredible talent at defensive line and linebacker (JT, Zach, and Tim Bowens, to name a few). But, who made who better? I would argue that the play of Sam and Pat lead to, if not greatly contributed to, the success at those other positions. They were able to be more creative in blitz schemes. They didn’t always have to drop an LB or DE into coverage. Coach Wannstedt could do more with his front 7 than many other teams in the league at that time. The bump and run, in your face, style that Sam and Pat played made all those other things possible. Zach Thomas always says that he credits a large portion of his career to Tim Bowens. Bowens consistently took on double and triple teams from opposing offensive linemen. This allowed Zach to run free many times, making those sideline to sideline plays that we all loved. Nobody can argue with that logic. But I still submit, that the play on the outside by Sam and Pat, had just as much to do with the success of that defense than any other factor.
Is this what we are getting with Xavien and Byron?
That is yet to be seen. I hope and my guess is yes. Xavien Howard is a legit NFL star. His numbers are great and will only improve as he does. It’s crazy to think that a player of his caliber is only going to get better. Byron Jones, same deal. Proven NFL star. People are often fooled by his stats because he only has 2 career INTs. The truth is, it’s hard to intercept balls when no one throws to your side. That’s how good he is. He has a next-level NFL brain. Having played every position in the defensive backfield, he sees things others don’t.
And the Dolphins Defense has them both. So ask yourself. Could they be the next Sam and Pat? Or, could they first Xavien and Byron? If it’s the latter, that would mean new levels of greatness we have yet to witness as Dolphins fans.
I’m hoping for the latter.