Once the Dolphins were aware safety Reshad Jones was headed toward a four-game NFL suspension and Jimmy Wilson was going to take his spot and Cortland Finnegan was comfortable manning the slot position in the nickel package, they had one more decision to make.
They had to decide whether Will Davis or Jamar Taylor would be the outside corner (opposite Brent Grimes on the other side) in the nickel package.
So Davis and Taylor -- both second-year players -- competed for the playing time.
And we settled ... well, nothing.
Seems both are going going to get playing time as I reported last Friday here.
"I think they are both going to have roles here as we go into the season," defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said Monday. "I think it will kind of play its way out somewhat. We have confidence in both guys. I have to be honest with you. There will be packages where you will see both of them and there are times where one will be in as opposed to another. There are probably interchangeable ones as well as we get going, but I think they have both proven that they are at the point now where we’ve got to get them out there in game situations and let them show what they are capable of what they are doing."
So what does that mean?
“In some of our packages, you will see Will and others you may see Jamar,” Coyle said.
Well, there are some things Davis does better and there are some things Taylor does better. Put another way, there are some places Davis is lacking and there are some places Taylor is lacking.
I believe Davis is the better coverage guy. But he lacks the strength and physicality to have consistent success against bigger, more aggressive wide receivers. Taylor has the physical presence. But he's not been as good in coverage as Davis against more sleek, fast wide receivers.
It presents a problem the Dolphins hope to solve by simply playing both. We'll see how that works out.
Here is the rest of everything Coyle said Monday:
(On New England tight end Rob Gronkowski saying he would play this weekend) – “We assumed that he might."
(On what Rob Gronkowski does that makes the team work harder) – “Any of the big tight ends you face, guys of that caliber that can create mismatches in man-to-man, body up against smaller defensive backs or even small linebackers becomes an issue. He’s also been a big target for them in the red zone, so if he plays and how much he plays, we don’t know how much that will be, but that’s not going to change what we do. We’ve got to defend their entire group. That’s a big enough chore as it is, so we’ve assumed that he would be playing. That’s kind of how we’ve been proceeding since the spring when we found out this was going to be the opener."
(On what he found out about the linebackers in the new positions during the preseason) – “I think what we were excited about was the second preseason game we had the opportunity to really see Koa Misi healthy and play like we believe he will be able to play for us inside. The first game, he was under the weather. I think I might have mentioned that to some of you guys, but he was sick the opening game and he was struggling, but the second game, I think he was in on about six hits in 23 plays or something of that nature. He was very active. I think Dannell (Ellerbe) is comfortable where he is. I think we’ve seen we’ve seen productivity out of Philip (Wheeler), both in defending the run and also pressuring the quarterback, as well as the backup guys. We’ve gotten a lot of cross-training done. (Linebackers coach Mark) Duffner has done a great job with this group cross-training the linebackers, so that they can play multiple spots. We’ve added some depth by doing that throughout training camp and you’re apt to see some of that as we get into the early part of the season."
(On the team’s tackling) – “We always want to tackle better, but I think it’s improved. You can’t put a lot of stock in preseason in terms of statistical things, but with that being said, our yards-per-play defensively was second in the league overall throughout preseason at 4.2, I believe. That’s total plays. You’ve got to be tackling in order to keep the yardage down, so obviously there are tackling issues early in camp. We always go into that trying to avoid that, but yet it’s an issue when you haven’t done it full-speed live and you get out there against (running) backs competing to make the team, it shows up. I don’t know if I’ve ever been anywhere where it hasn’t been an issue early in training camp, but I think we’ve taken some steps to improve."
(On if he anticipates DE Derrick Shelby taking snaps both at defensive end and defensive tackle) – “No, Derrick is a versatile guy. He’s a talented, conscientious (guy). We’ve nicknamed him ‘Trigger’ for the old Roy Rogers horse. For those of us of a different generation here, Trigger was the old reliable horse where he’s got Roy Rogers to win the day, so to speak. We’ve nicknamed him ‘Trigger’ because every time Derrick gets in the game he just makes plays. He’s so consistent. He’s a hard worker, nothing flashy, but you like to have guys like that. He’s played both spots and he’s played well at both spots. He gives us some versatility there and he’s a very valuable part of our defensive front."
(On how intelligent New England quarterback Tom Brady is in a game and gauging that intelligence within a game) – “I think (Tom) Brady is very intelligent. I think they do a great job of preparing him as well as a coaching staff, so I think there’s that element of when he knows exactly what he thinks you are going to be doing in certain down and distances or in certain alignments and things, he can make throws that most other guys in the league can’t. He can get the ball into very, very tight windows. You have to try to do some things to keep him off balance. That’s a combination of things. If it was one answer, everybody would be trying to do it. You’ve got to be able to make him uncomfortable in the pocket and you can do that by getting great rush on him, occasionally trying to pressure and things of that nature, trying to give looks that maybe he’s not certain what you’re in, all those types of things. When you play this type of caliber quarterback and there’s just a handful of them in the league, they can beat you with their arms and also with their brain because they can anticipate where you are going to be, get themselves into the proper play and it makes it very difficult in addition to just defending the talent that he has around him. It’s a great challenge, but we welcome the challenge and it’s something that we’re very excited about come Sunday."
(On where S Louis Delmas is right now) – “We are thrilled to have Louis Delmas as a part of our defense. He brings a tremendous amount of energy, excitement, physicality to the defense. I expect big things from Louis and he’s been nothing but a pleasure to coach since the day he walked into the door. He’s smiling all the time, he’s joking, he’s upbeat and I think all of the other players kind of thrive on his energy. He brings that every single day to the practice field, so he’s a physical presence. People have got to be aware of where Louis is. That’s the kind of safety you want that will be patrolling the middle of the field and coming downhill versus the run. When he hits you, you stay hit. I expect him to be a physical force for us."
(On how he feels about the secondary with S Reshad Jones missing the first four games) – “I feel good about the secondary. I’m really excited about the two corners, obviously (Brent) Grimes coming off the great season and adding Cortland Finnegan. Again, I could put Louis (Delmas) and Cortland in the same boat. They are two veteran players who have come in here and have been absolute joys to coach. These guys have bought into everything we are doing. They are total professionals, approach the game the way you want, bring a toughness and an edge about them, a demeanor to the secondary. I think Jimmy Wilson is settling into his new role very well here as we’ve gone through training camp. He’s had some learning to go through, but yet we have a good group. The young corners that are just stepping up and are going to have to play a bigger role for us have certainly improved throughout training camp. There’s a lot to be excited about from that group."
(On the challenges of facing a quarterback like Tom Brady in Week 1 instead of later in the season because that’s probably when there is the most guess work) – “I think you could look at it two ways. I think the fact that it is Week 1, we’ve known this since the spring and you’re always able to spend more time on your first opponent. That goes back to spring. Certain things that we worked on and certain things that we exposed as a player to, I think they have a better feeling now than they would have if this was game five or six during the regular season. Because there is the degree of unknown, you’ve got to be careful how many new things you are going to do because you are not sure exactly what you might be getting and you spend time on things that you might not see. On the other hand, I think the fact that we’ve had more time is a good thing for us and we’re excited about that. We are excited about playing them here at home in front of our home crowd and the great fans we have here in South Florida. I think it’s a good opener for us."
(On compensating for DE Dion Jordan’s snaps with players such as DE Derrick Shelby and LB Chris McCain) – “We are going to use a variety of those guys in that role. The thing that I think is important is early in the season, particularly down here, you’re going to have to go into games where you’re going to roll people through. It’s hard to play 60-70 plays in the conditions that we’ll be playing in, especially in a game where you are going to have to rush the passer and extend that type of energy. There will be different guys rolling through and those guys will certainly be part of it."