What the Dolphins are getting with their new edge player. And updates on o-line, Ramsey
A six-pack of Miami Dolphins notes on a Wednesday:
▪ We wrote a metrics-based piece earlier this week about how incredibly helpful it would be if Xavien Howard and Jalen Ramsey can recapture their form of 2020 and to an extent, 2021.
The same can be said of new Dolphins backup edge player Malik Reed, who thrived in 2020 playing opposite Bradley Chubb and for then-Broncos coach Vic Fangio.
Fangio, of course, is now the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator, and Reed wouldn’t be a Dolphin if Fangio hadn’t endorsed it.
Reed joins Andrew Van Ginkel - who agreed to a one-year deal to return to Miami - as the team’s backup outside linebackers behind Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips.
Because of injuries to Von Miller and Jeremiah Attaochu, Reed started 13 games in 2020 and had eight sacks (tied for 18th in the league) and 36 pressures in 429 pass rushing chances and also graded out well against the run, per Pro Football Focus. A lot of his success came opposite Chubb, who was acquired by the Dolphins on Nov. 1.
Reed started another 13 games in 2021, and while he was still productive, his numbers dropped across the board - sacks from 8 to 5, pressures from 36 to 27, tackles from 53 to 43 and quarterback hits from 17 to 8. And his run defense plunged, according to PFF. His defensive snaps dropped only slightly from 2020 to 2021 (785 to 739).
Fangio coached Reed in that 2021 season, and nothing about his performance that year dissuaded Fangio from giving him an endorsement to the Dolphins’ front office.
Months after Fangio was fired, Denver – late last August – dealt Reed and a seventh-round selection to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a 2023 sixth-round pick.
Reed played 396 defensive snaps for the Steelers (14 games, two starts) and had modest production -- one sack and 10 pressures in 224 pass rush chances.
As a comparison, here were the pass rush numbers for the Dolphins backup edge players last year: Van Ginkel had half a sack and 11 pressures in 106 pass rush chances, and Melvin Ingram had six sacks and 38 pressures in 325 pass-rushing snaps.
Ingram remains a free agent and seems unlikely to return.
▪ Reed went undrafted out of Nevada in 2019, but Fangio - who was hired as Broncos coach four months earlier - took no credit for finding him.
After his signing as an undrafted rookie out of Nevada in 2019, Fangio said: “I didn’t have any expectations because I didn’t watch any of his college tape.
“I’d like to tell you it was my signing and I recommended it, but I had nothing to do with that. That was John [Elway] and the guys in personnel. He just kept getting better and kept showing that he could be good enough. He continued on that track and became good enough.
“I like the fact that he likes to play physical and he has good instincts in the pass rush. He still has some development to do in coverage and things like that, but he’s the right kind of guy with the right kind of temperament.”
Reed played a lot of special teams snaps as a Denver rookie (203), but logged just 65, 47 and 58 special teams snaps the past three seasons.
▪ The Dolphins - who continue to mull what to do at right tackle - were down to $4 million in cap space before agreeing to terms with Van Ginkel, per overthecap.com, which originally listed the Dolphins cap space as $50,000 but adjusted the total after determining that quarterback Mike White’s cap hit is $2.9 million --- $4 million less than it originally thought.
They can create more by extending Christian Wilkins or Conner Williams, trading Cedrick Wilson Jr., or restructuring Emmanuel Ogbah’s contract.
Keep in mind that only the top 51 count against the cap; the Dolphins have more than 60 players under contract. So the Dolphins don’t need to create cap space for minimum-salary contracts.
Miami will get an additional $13.6 million in cap space when Byron Jones’ contract comes off their books on June 1.
▪ The new backup interior lineman, Dan Feeney, will replace Michael Deiter at backup center and could push starter Liam Eichenberg and backup Robert Jones at left guard.
Deiter agreed to terms with Houston on Monday, per NFL writer Aaron Wilson.
Feeney started 48 games for the Chargers from 2018 through 2020 and had seven starts for the Jets over the past two seasons.
He allowed one sack and three pressures in 67 pass blocking chances last season, which isn’t bad. PFF ranked him 80th among 140 guards as a run-blocker last year.
Feeney has started NFL games at four different positions - left guard, center, right guard and as an extra offensive lineman.
Per overthecap.com, the Dolphins gave Feeney a one-year, $3.25 million deal, opting to spend decent money rather than signing a backup center at the $1.08 minimum.
▪ New Dolphins cornerback Jalen Ramsey noted last week that he received positive feedback on Mike McDaniel.
“I know the guys speak highly of him,” Ramsey said. “Coach is cool. Coach is different. He’s young. Got some energy about him. Says what’s on his mind when he wants to. We can have just real conversations. It doesn’t feel like a player talking to my coach. It kind of feels like this is my homie a little bit, which is dope. You know he’s the authority, but that’s a dope dynamic to have with your coach.
“He keeps telling me that he’s going to be the best head coach I’ve ever had. He’s nudging Sean [McVay] on that a little bit. Sean was great in L.A. It’s going to be tough because Sean is the man. But I believe him though, and I’m going to hold him to that.”
▪ Quick stuff: Pro Football Focus gave the Dolphins an A for their offseason so far.
“On paper, this is a really good football team,” PFF said. “They lost Bryon Jones but added Jalen Ramsey, and they were able to bring back a lot of their speed on offense. At this point, it’s a matter of the offensive line playing better. On defense, the David Long addition was a good one. This feels like one of the most complete rosters in the league, one that just needs to go out and execute.”...
According to the Dolphins, two of their playerse among the active leaders in consecutive Pro Bowl appearances. Aaron Donald has made nine in a row, Travis Kelce 8, and Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill seven, tied with Kyle Juszczyk.
Ramsey has been named a Pro Bowler for six consecutive seasons, tied with Cameron Jordan, Davante Adams and Cameron Heyward for ongoing streaks.