We’re officially one week from Christmas. In the holiday spirit, Santa has authorized a special 5th episode of Miami Musings. So, consider these Dolphins reflections a special stocking-stuffer as we head into Sunday’s Week 15 rematch against the New England Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium.
- Quick! Who is the highest-paid player on the Miami Dolphins right now? Xavien Howard, DeVante Parker, Erek Flowers, Emmanuel Ogbah, or Kyle VanNoy? No, no, no, no, and no. In fact, this player was briefly the highest-paid at his position. Folks, the highest-paid player on the Dolphins, is so stealth that he flies under the radar weekly. His name is Byron Jones, and he is “The Effect.”
- If you think about it, cornerback Byron Jones has quietly done more for this Dolphins team than sacks, tackles, interceptions, and touchdowns can measure. Jones’s mere presence on the field dictates how opposing teams script their offensive gameplans, which allows his teammates to collect all the statistics. Yet, Byron Jones is excellent with that. What does that say about the kind of person Byron Jones is? Last week, against the Chiefs, Jones got his FIRST interception in TWO years off a Patrick Mahomes tipped pass! Now, in his 6th year, Byron Jones has THREE interceptions TOTAL! Let that sink in for a minute. The highest-paid player on the Miami Dolphins, who competes at a position largely measured by interceptions, has just ONE this year. What’s that all about?
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) December 17, 2020
- If we venture down the rabbit hole a little deeper, the answers can be found. First, let’s look at two cornerbacks in recent history similar to Byron Jones: Darrell Revis and Patrick Peterson. What made them so effective? Opposing quarterbacks did not want to “go there.” The risk was not worth the reward, so they avoided them altogether, taking chances elsewhere. Yet, when Pro Bowl/All-Pro voting came around, they were regularly slotted in as first-teamers. It’s an odd concept to wrap your head around. A team’s best cornerback is the one who gets very few interceptions but plays a position where interceptions are a premium. Is it possible to have something make no sense and make perfect sense at the same time? If you ask the man playing opposite Byron Jones, Xavien Howard, then you’ll understand “The Effect.”
- In short, Byron Jones is getting the big bucks for what he does for the rest of the Miami defense. Brian Flores & Chris Grier knew what they were doing when Dolfans (including myself) worried about the millions invested in both Jones & Howard. Put two guys out there who can play on an island and let the rest of the defense go about its business. When opposing quarterbacks have to hold on to the ball longer, that allows any of the other nine players on defense to make impact plays. By default, when quarterbacks throw away from Byron Jones, chances are Xavien Howard’s target share will increase. That’s why “The X Raptor” is a leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year with NINE interceptions. For that, Mr. Howard owes Mr. Jones more than just a nice South Beach dinner.