The departure of Yeremiah Bell, who was drafted by the Dolphins in 2003, has opened the door for someone in the Dolphins’ young secondary to be the unit’s vocal leader. Asked if anyone has emerged thus far, Jones said he’s trying to take the reins.
“I would have to say it’s got to be me right now. Me and Chris Clemons,” Jones said. “Learning in front of Yeremiah, I learned a lot and got a lot from him. I think I can be that guy to get everybody lined up and get everything started.”
New defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle’s philosophy will change things up for the defensive backfield. In years past, especially under Mike Nolan, the strong safety typically crept up to the line of scrimmage to help stuff the run. This, though, should change in Coyle’s defense, which will drop that extra safety back into coverage. It will be like having two free-roaming free safeties on the field at once, perhaps alleviating the burden on cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Sean Smith.
“The safety is like the quarterback on offense,” said Jones, who is entering his third season. “We’re the captains back there, and we’ve got to make everything happen. We’ve got to make everything right.”
Surely, Joe Philbin couldn’t have been too disappointed with the situation he inherited with the Dolphins defense. It was a unit that, at times, was downright dominant last year. Philbin did, however, see the need to try to improve the defense’s ability to create takeaways, prompting him to hire Coyle, whose secondary in Cincinnati seemed to always be forcing turnovers. This will be Coyle’s first opportunity to be a defensive coordinator in the NFL; he spent the past nine seasons as Cincinnati’s defensive backs coach.
Jones said it’s been really beneficial having a coordinator who spent so much time working with the secondary.
“He’s pretty much mastered the DB’s,” Jones said. “He coached (them) for a while, so he kind of understands and knows they’re assignments and techniques. It’s pretty good to have two coaches, I guess, to coach you give you feedback back there.”
With a few years to learn some of the intricacies of the professional game, Jones feels it’s time to become a consistent contributor, one who’s mentioned among the NFL’s elite. The arrival of a new coaching staff should give players, in a sense, a fresh chance to prove themselves again. That’s been the impetus for Jones heading into the 2012 season.
“I’m working my butt off right now,” Jones said. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to be out there. The competition is going to be great, and I’m a competitor. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help this team win.”
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