Every off-season, there are players that I expect to leave as free agents, but every year, to my surprise, there is always at least one player that returns. This year, it was Andrew Van Ginkel. Last year was frustrating for Van Ginkel, as he started the year having his appendices removed, and for whatever reason, he wasn’t getting on the field. I never understood, and it was one of my frustrations last year because Van Ginkel is a playmaker. He may not be the biggest or fastest player, but he is always around the football. He is always good for either a sack, interception, or fumble recovery. Heck, he’s in on the punt block unit as well. He’s a very well-versed player, and I felt his talents weren’t being used properly.
He was a free agent this off-season, and he had visits with the New England Patriots and the Las Vegas Raiders, but then he got a phone call from the Miami Dolphins’ new defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio.
Fangio had looked at the film on him and saw something in his game that made him feel he could help. It turned out to be one of the best moves of the off-season. I wasn’t sure how Van Ginkel would fit into Fangio’s defense, but he has made him a versatile player as he plays outside linebacker and sometimes inside linebacker.
With Jaelen Phillips being injured to start the season, Van Ginkel played a key role in the win over the Patriots, sacking the quarterback. Now that Phillips is done with an Achilles tendon injury, his role will be bigger. On Sunday, we saw how important Van Ginkel is against the Washington Commanders. He had a sack, an interception returned for a touchdown that broke the game open, and he came an inch away from blocking a punt.
I know Van Ginkel is a reserve, but outside of his procedure early that season that kept him out a couple of games, I never understood why previous defensive coordinator Josh Boyer wasn’t using him. They didn’t have Bradley Chubb in the first half of the season, and when there were other injuries, he still wasn’t on the field. I’m so glad Fangio had the foresight to see that the Dolphins had a good player and convinced Van Ginkel and the front office to make a deal.
You can never have enough pass rushers and playmakers, and that’s what Van Ginkel is. He will play a pivotal role down the stretch as the Dolphins make their playoff push and possibly for the Super Bowl. The Dolphins are starting to peak on defense at the right time, and Van Ginkel is one of many players stepping up at the right time.
Every team has an under-the-radar signing every off-season, and this, by far, was one of the best by the Dolphins. We can thank Fangio for picking up the phone and making the pitch to bring Van Ginkel back.