Do the Dolphins really need Howard to win the AFC East?

Before the draft, my assessment of the 2021 Miami Dolphins defense was their secondary was their top unit and a big part of why the defense was a top rated defense in points allowed. Without a doubt, a huge part of that was the play of CB Xavien Howard. It wasn’t only the 10 INT’s, he would be one of the top 10 CB’s in the NFL without that, but those 10 turnovers vault him into top 3 territory. Think about that for a moment, teams regularly employ 3 CB’s, and sometimes as many as 5 or even 6. To be conservative, to be in the top 3 of say 48 CB’s is an accomplishment. It’s not only his great play alone too, his play makes it much easier for everyone else on the team to get their job done. He also has that uncanny ability to read the QB and jump throws which make him a very dangerous defensive player to challenge, although he was often challenged and he made QB’s pay.To me, it’s clear Howard doesn’t have long term confidence in his wary body so he wants to be paid now. Hard not to appreciate his circumstance even if it’s not great for the team to rip up a very lucrative contract signed just 2 seasons ago and pay him a boatload more. In my opinion though, I don’t have an issue with paying him this year and the next for two productive seasons and then having a parachute to get out without any cap hits after the next 2 seasons. I doubt Howard would take issue with that as long as he gets paid up front. I almost see that as a WIN-WIN.

If, say the Dolphins take a hard stance against their star CB Howard, it would almost certainly be last year’s 30th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, CB Noah Igbinoghene that would replace Howard. Last season Iggy was very limited in what they allowed him to do, playing time was sparse playing only 28% of the snaps on defense. The reason was two fold though, it seemed as if last year Flores and the defensive coaches wanted Igbinoghene to concentrate on playing the boundary rather than insert him in at the slot playing inside. He also struggled in limited time against one of the league’s best WR’s Stefon Diggs, which was a lot to ask. From my recollection, his coverage was not poor against Diggs, it was more Allen making some pinpoint throws in which Iggy had pretty good coverage on. In any case, they clearly didn’t feel he was ready for prime time last season, but has that changed in 2021? Do the Dolphins feel that removing one of the best CB’s in the NFL and replacing him with an untested 2nd year player against a division in which each team has improved offensively is the right way to go?

Let’s look at how the AFC East has evolved and changed from 2020 to 2021. The Patriots drafted Mac Jones with pick #15 in the 2021 NFL Draft. He will compete with Cam Newton for the starting spot. In addition, the patriots quietly fortified their receiving corps bringing in Kendrick Bourne from San Francisco and Nelson Agholor from the Las Vegas Raiders who will join promising WR N’Keal Harry (2019 pick #30) and Jakobi Meyers (Not the law firm). A modest upgrade but if Mac Jones can play like Justin Herbert did last season or even Joe Burrow (minus the injury), they can and should be a better offense. The Jets made offense a priority in2021, drafting QB Zach Wilson with the 2nd pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and following that pick up with OT Alijah Vera-Tucker, then WR Elijah Moore and then RB Michael Carter. 4 picks in rounds 1 and 2 ALL on offense. The Jets were dreadful last year, you have to expect them to be better although they are putting all their eggs in one basket by clearly handing over the reins to rookie QB Zach Wilson. With QB’s Mike White and James Morgan the only other QB’s on the roster, the Jets are putting quite a lot of pressure on the young QB. They do have a nice receiving corps though with Denzel Mims, Jamison Crowder, and in FA in 2021 they added former Tennessee Titans WR Corey Davis who had his career best season last year with just a shade under 1000 yards averaging a nice 15.1 YPR. If Zach Wilson is for real, the Jets should be considerably better in 2021. The Bills already had one of the most potent offenses in the NFL, 2nd in the NFL in scoring at 31.3 PPG. The Bills stayed pat with what they had on offense and doubled down on defense for 2021. In summation, this division may have gotten more difficult to defend.

No question we shored up our LB corps with the addition of Benardrick McKinney and the drafting of potential pas rushing star Jaelan Phillips, and drafting safety Jevon Holland in RD 2. It also should not be overlooked that we added S Jason McCourty as well as nickelback Justin Coleman, formerly of the Patriots, Seahawks and Lions. Still, losing Howard after all those moves is a huge gamble. I’m not sure how things will play out and whether the holdout will either force a trade or if the holdout can last through the season. My choice for resolution is clear, frontload the contract so you hopefully get what you pay for in the next 2 seasons, make Howard happy, and then easily be able to cut him painlessly for the cap if his health depreciates along with his play. An extensive holdout possibly lasting through the season helps neither party and a trade only helps the future, not the present team.


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913 Responses to Do the Dolphins really need Howard to win the AFC East?

  1. To me, we just have to cover the guys that we’re on,” Flores said of Howard, who has undergone three knee surgeries since being Miami’s second-round pick in 2016.

    “We had issues with Stefon Diggs. We had issues with Brown. We had issues with [Bills receiver Cole] Beasley. My message to the guys is the guys we put you on, those are the guys we expect you to cover.

    “Whether that’s Noah on Diggs, or Byron Jones on Diggs, or X on Brown, or [Dolphins second-year defensive back] Nik Needham on Beasley. We all just have to do a better job of covering. We felt like that was the best matchup and that’s why we did that.”

    Diggs torched Igbinoghene, finishing with eight catches for 153 yards and a touchdown.

    Howard also struggled with his assignment as receiver John Brown scored a 46-yard touchdown with three minutes left to put the game out of reach one play after Howard failed to catch an interception.

    “Coaches did what was best for us and at first Byron was covering [Diggs] and something happened with Byron, so Noah ended up coming in. It was the game plan that we had,” Howard said of the matter after the game.

  2. CavalierKong says:

    Under two minutes in the half. Hopkins in the slot offensive left (Howards side), covered by Needham, Howard stays on the boundary against Fitzgerald.

    End of the half

    Howard had the majority of coverage on Hopkins because Hopkins lined up against his position almost exclusively. When Hopkins wasn’t on the offensive left boundary, he was almost always covered by someone else.

  3. Randy says:

    I agree. If we’re talking about being legitimate SB contenders, I think that’s a couple years away yet. We’re still a young, building team. We’re on a nice trajectory though.

  4. CavalierKong says:

    3rd quarter, Hopkins continues on the offensive left. Man in motion moves to the left boundary, Howard moves to cover him drops coverage on Hopkins to a safety.

    6 minute mark, zone coverage, only like the 3rd time I’ve seen Howard in zone (don’t know if it was a mixed coverage or not, was only watching Howard).

    3/4 through the 3rd, Hopkins has been on the offensive left every play, on the boundary nearly every play. 2nd BS PI call against Howard this quarter on Hopkins.

    I’m done with the play by play. Howard doesn’t follow the #1 in this game.

    Like most talking heads, Wilcotts doesn’t understand the nuance that most fans of the team get because he’s not watching every play of every game. Sure Howard had the majority of coverage on Hopkins, but it was because the Cards don’t move him around, not because the Fins had Howard shadowing him.

  5. unbelievable, the gulf of mexico is on fire? SMH im so over fossil fuels, they are a disaster to the environment

  6. ocalarob says:

    I agree, we’re two years away from being three years away.

  7. ocalarob says:

    CavalierKong says:
    July 3, 2021 at 3:49 pm
    Offensive right and left

    i think the left is more offensive.

    • so you agree with the January 6 terrorists that tried to overturn the government , broke and entered into the capitol, killed a policeman, shred the constitution, cheat the election, and hang Mike Pence? why?

      thats not what America needs IMO

      • * they did not succeed in hanging Pence, but they were chanting Hang pence

        i dont really like Pence, but hes an American citizen and could not overturn anything. it wasnt possible for Pence to cheat the American voters , he did nothing wrong

    • CavalierKong says:


  8. FOx is calling to defund the military now, lol after they blasted the left for wanting to defund police,
    bunch of hypocrites!
    now Laura Ingrahate is saying that congress should eliminate the first amendment for military, and defund them if they cant silence the military generals

    shes as looney as it gets, she doesnt understand the constitution, and seems to think the first amendment isnt important

  9. CavalierKong says:

    So this is interesting. 4th quarter, Jones and Howard have switched sides, Jones is now on the defensive right and this series has covered Hopkins every play (because it’s where Hopkins lines up, Jones isn’t shadowing). I think this was a coaching switch because Howard had 4 penalties called covering Hopkins, 3 in the 3rd quarter.

    One play Hopkins and Fitzgerald were lined up on the offensive right (no coverage on the left), Jones covered Hopkins on the outside, Howard covered Fitz in the slot.

    Game over, the whole 4th quarter was played this way.

    The defensive gameplan has been pretty obvious- Howard on the defensive right, Jones the defensive left. They don’t switch sides to follow receivers on multiple receiver sets. In one WR sets or stacked side formations, Howard covers the #1.

    Those assignments were switched in the 4th quarter because of Howard’s PI calls, and Jones covered the defensive right, Howard the left, and Jones covered the #1 in stacked and single WR sets. (Jones was very good on Hopkins b the way.)

    The vast majority of snaps from Howard/Jones they were in man coverage, I wasn’t paying attention to this detail, but I’m pretty sure we didn’t play a lot of press, we were usually off.

    • Mike E. says:

      Thanks for your diligence Kong. Well, so much for Wilcot’s ramblings. So that settles it. Howard is the RCB almost exclusively.

      • CavalierKong says:

        No prob, Mike 🙂 I was going to watch a game or two today anyway.

        They definitely have side assignments, I’m not sure it’s the same side each game though. I’ve started the Chargers game, and Howard has been exclusively defensive left side for 3 series so far, Jones has been defensive right.

        In the 1st quarter into the 2nd, the Chargers use Allen completely different than the Cards did with Hopkins. Allen has lined up all over and hasn’t been shadowed. I’d say most of his snaps so far are in the slot covered by Needham.

  10. mf13ss says:

    You guys talking about that fool Solomon Wilcotts? I gave up on him many years ago, when he used to constantly talk smack about Chris Chambers in-game.

    Chambers was over-thrown by no less than 15 yards one game (think it was against the Bills in the mid-00s), and Wilcotts RAGED about how he gave up on the play, despite leaping 100 feet in the air, getting a mere pinky finger on the ball, and getting the wind knocked out of him after landing hard on the turf. That was after like the third play of the game, and he just kept on dissing Chambers all game long… even after making circus-catches.

    Wilcotts is a bloody clown, y’all. I’ve yet to see a commentator go after a player so badly, and I’ve seen Wilcotts consistently mess up calls left and right ever since. He’s a real beauty, let me tell ya.

  11. mf13ss says:


    Great job on the reporting/research, man. You’ve done some really great work as of late! It’s appreciated.

  12. mf13ss says:

    stangerx says:
    July 2, 2021 at 6:13 pm
    That’s so cool you had an in with one of the top agents out there. That’s gold right there.
    He was a go-to for me when it came to questions, including questions some of y’all were asking via the Sun-Sentinel on Omar’s blog. I never should have stopped following him over his public political ranting. Lesson learned.

  13. bailbondmike says:

    We value you but we will pay someone more and then draft another CB in the first round.
    You are GM coming off 2019 season and drastically need to upgrade the CB position already but, on top of that, your #1 CB only played 5 games and had his 3RD KNEE SURGERY but also just extended him making him the highest paid CB in the league at the time.

    You have money to play with to include plenty to go after the #1 F/A CB and draft one since you don’t know how long your #1 CB’s knees will hold up.

    What would you have done? Pass up the best F/A option and sign a lesser talent for less money then wait to the 6th round to draft another one so as to not hurt the feelings of your #1 CB who may or may not be able to play at that level for more than 2 years from now.

  14. mf13ss says:

    Tuned into Sarasota, Florida, right now…

  15. ocalarob says:

    for all of those buying olive oil in hopes of eating healthy, put your oil in the fridge, if it doesn’t become cloudy it is mixed with lower grade vegetable oil due to profitability. saturated fat is what’s healthy and that clouds the oil under cooler temps
    i use bertocelli myself, it comes in a glass bottle.

  16. Krishna says:

    Hope everyone enjoys their Independence….a day to reflect on what that really means in this country.

  17. bailbondmike says:

    Yessir! Enjoy your Independence Day!!!!

  18. The Flying Pig says:


    I thought you said olive oil is bad for you before?

    • bailbondmike says:

      I think you are just supposed to watch it with extra virgin olive and hit heat due to it’s low smoke point. Good with salad dressings and light cooking but could be wrong.

      Also, the less virgin the olive oil the hotter you can cook with it. The less virgin the higher the smoke point where the oil doesn’t break down as much. So, when it comes to cooking things hot, try to find you the biggest whore of an olive oil and you should be good to go.

  19. bailbondmike says:

    Speaking of what may or may not be good for you. Leftover Krystal burgers make a tasty breakfast.

  20. Mike E. says:


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