Dolphins D: Same Faces, New Vibe After Xavien Howard, Emmanuel Ogbah Deals

MIAMI — You assume every NFL team wants to win. Some show it better than others.

The Miami Dolphins have spared no expense to build a contender this offseason. His biggest additions have come on offense with the signing of left tackle Terron Armstead and a trade for receiver Tyreek Hill. However, they did not forget to defend him.

His latest move was a reworked five-year contract with cornerback Xavien Howard that gives the three-time Pro Bowl player $50 million in new money even though he had three years and $39 million left on a deal he signed in 2019. .

Howard felt he outgrew his contract, especially after Miami gave cornerback Byron Jones an $82 million, five-year deal in 2020. Howard publicly requested a trade before the 2021 season, and the team fixed the issue by slightly restructuring his contract. and promising to renegotiate after the season.

By keeping their promise, the Dolphins seemed to send a message to their locker room that the days of bickering with their best players are over.

“Just bringing everyone back, especially on defense, is very exciting,” Howard said. “My son [Emmanuel] Ogbah, I was happy that you came back. We can do some plays together. It’s exciting to have the defense back, especially going into our third year with the same defensive scheme.”

Miami began the reunion tour with its defense by retaining coordinator Josh Boyer and several other defensive staffers from last year, then re-signed Ogbah, its top defensive end, to a four-year, $65 million contract minutes before for the legal manipulations to begin. March 14. The sides had negotiated throughout the season but were unable to reach an agreement before the offseason.

However, speaking at the NFL combine, Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel made it known publicly that he wanted Ogbah back. He got his wish 12 days later.

Since then, Miami has made it clear that they feel their defense from last season was worth developing. He re-signed his entire inside linebacker ward and defensive tackle John Jenkins. As the team began its offseason training program on April 4, players described a new atmosphere in the locker room even though many of the faces were the same.

“It’s just different. It shows,” said Ogbah. “A lot of guys are happy to be back. Everyone is happy to see each other again. It’s only been two months, but it felt like an eternity. We are happy to get back to work.”

“Coach McDaniel brings a different kind of energy to the show, so we’re excited about that as well.”

The 2021 season was a tale of two halves for the Dolphins: statistically they were one of the worst defenses in the league for the first eight weeks, which included a seven-game losing streak.

However, the defense fueled Miami’s seven-game winning streak that began in Week 9. During the streak, he led the NFL with a 40% pressure rating, allowed a league-low 257 yards per game, kept opponents by 28.6%, the lowest in the league. third-down conversion rate and held six opponents under 200 total yards. The Dolphins finished the season tied for second in the NFL with 48.0 sacks and tied for eighth with 26 steals.

They are confident that the second half of last season will be more representative of the team’s true defensive identity.

“We should be as good as we want to be,” said Ogbah. “We’ve got a lot of guys coming back, a lot of guys in key places. We just have to take that step and get better.”

The return of the 11 starters from a season ago raises high expectations, but winning the AFC East won’t be easy. Miami is 1-7 in its last eight meetings against the Buffalo Bills, who have won two straight AFC East titles and are the favorites again in 2022 after improving this offseason.

But the Dolphins, coming off back-to-back winning seasons, have committed more than $186 million in guaranteed money to Armstead, Hill, Howard and Ogbah this offseason alone, and Howard knows what’s now required of this team.

“To win,” he said bluntly.

“We have to finish what we started on the defensive end. We’ve been making plays and doing things for the team. We have to keep doing that, add more pieces and hopefully cause more problems.” there on the defensive.

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Dolphins D: Same Faces, New Vibe After Xavien Howard, Emmanuel Ogbah Deals