While many of the headlines for the team this off-season the addition of All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the man projected to play many snaps next to him in the interior of the Dolphins defense, Earl Mitchell, has largely flown under-the-radar. Mitchell has had a busy off-season himself as he finished his degree at the University of Arizona and has been getting a chance to work closely with new teammates at defensive tackle, Suh and second-round pick, Jordan Phillips.
As Mitchell prepares for his second season in the middle of the Dolphins defensive line, he sat down with John Congemi of The Finsiders to share his thoughts on Suh, the changes in Kevin Coyle‘s defensive scheme and much more.
What is the vibe like this offseason?
“It’s an exciting time. A lot of guys are really excited about the opportunity. You know a lot of guys felt like there might have been a couple things here and there that we could have done better (in 2014), but we are really trying to make a strong push for the playoffs and that is really our main focus. I think a lot of guys are really just trying to make a contribution in any way they can.”
How will playing next to Suh make it better for you?
“It is definitely an opportunity for not only me but for everybody that is on the field whether it be Jordan, or myself, Cam (Wake), O.V. (Olivier Vernon), anybody that gets on the field its an opportunity for either one to make a play… He is definitely someone you have to account for. When you see him play he is just someone that plays extremely hard and that is just something that offensive lineman have to recognize. It is definitely going to open up doors for other guys on the field. I think it is going to be key (that everyone) contributes so I’m definitely excited.”
What words of wisdom as a veteran on the defensive line can you give to rookie Jordan Phillips?
“It is definitely important that you move forward because once you get into the NFL it is an opportunity to have a clean slate and a lot of people are going to talk about the things that happened in your past but that’s what it is, just the past. So it is an opportunity for him to prove those doubters wrong. It is an opportunity for him to make sure that he understands where his position is and sees what his faults are, what his weaknesses may be, and he can work on those.”
The coaches have discussed simplifying the defense heading into 2015; what are they emphasizing to the players this off-season?
“I think it is a combination you know, making sure that we can get on the same page, learn each other, making sure that everybody’s communication is on point. Once we hit the season and we are on the field, we want to make sure everybody is on the same page. I think it is going to be key and I think it is going to be really good (for our unit).”
How will those changes help the players?
“Yeah definitely, when guys really just understand what they have to do it just makes it so much easier. When you have a lot on your plate, so much going into a game plan, or whatever goes into that week you just want to make sure you’re on the same page, and just making sure that the communication is going to be on point for that week. I think it is going to be really good for us; it makes the communication a little bit easier once that Sunday hits.”
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