Analysts assess Dolphins’ Ramsey and how to use him. And Ramsey/Howard career parallels

Four-time first team All Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey has had better seasons than 2022, but there are reasons to believe he will play well for Miami.

Some reaction from analysts on where he stands, at 28, and how new Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio might use him:

▪ ESPN’s Louis Riddick: “Think about Jalen Ramsey and Jevon Holland, two of the most dynamic athletes to play in the back end and movable chess pieces.

“Jalen Ramsey is going to hit the ground running down there, because Vic Fangio, guess who he tutored? He tutored [Chargers coach and former Rams defensive coordinator] Brandon Staley. What did Brandon Staley do with Jalen Ramsey when he had him in L.A.? He moved him into the star position.

“All of a sudden, the star, the nickel, the guy who plays the fifth defensive back position in sub [packages] became the buzz word throughout the NFL. And that’s because of the way Brandon Staley deployed Jalen Ramsey. What do you think Vic is going to do with this guy?

FYI: Ramsey has played 737 snaps in the slot over the past three seasons, per PFF.

▪ ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky: “With a Vic Fangio defense, nothing gets given to you. Every throw is contested; I don’t care if it’s 5-yard hitch or a check-down. This makes me think Jalen will be at the line of scrimmage.

“Everyone raves about his physicality. They are going to allow Jalen to be at the line of scrimmage, bully ball receivers, make sure they have hands on guys, allowing that pass rush to affect the quarterback more. That is really his strength.”

▪ ESPN’s Robert Griffin III, on Twitter: “The Dolphins now have two No. 1 wide receivers and two No. 1 corners. Your defense has to deal with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle while your offense is trying to throw against Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard. [Lord] HAVE MERCY.”

▪ ESPN’s Marcus Spears: “Jalen is going to be back in position where you are around guys who play at a very high level.. He can dominate games from how he can be used.”

▪ ESPN’s Mike Tannenbaum: ”If Jalen Ramsey returns to the way he played prior to 2022, it’s a very good trade for Miami. He had a down year last year, by his standards.”

▪ Former Dolphins coach and Fox studio analyst Dave Wannstedt, now with the 33rd Team: “The Dolphins are going through a defensive philosophy change from a high-pressure defense to Fangio’s defense of rush four and play multiple coverages.

“To do that, you need experienced corners. Jalen Ramsey is experienced. You need talented corners that can play man and zone. Jalen Ramsey can do that, too.”

▪ NFL Net’s Bucky Brooks: “Sometimes when you have a player like Jalen Ramsey, somewhat super talented, you need to keep him challenged and stimulated. Being able to move him around in Vic Fangio’s defense, you might see the best of Jalen Ramsey, much like we saw a couple of years ago.”

▪ Pro Football Focus’ Ryan Smith noted Ramsay had PFF’s highest cornerback grade in 2021 and was third best in 2022, with eight interceptions and 26 pass breakups over those two years.

“Also the best cornerback in the league against the run,” Smith said. “Elite.”

But NBC’s Chris Simms cautioned that Ramsey “may no longer be a top coverage corner. But he is still a top secondary player because of his versatility and potential value as a safety in the next phase of his career.”

So is there truth to Simms’ comments? The metrics show that Ramsey’s passing yards allowed and passer rating against have risen significantly the past three years. But he still is an effective player overall. Here’s a look, with numbers courtesy of Pro Football Focus:

▪ In 2020 for the Rams, Ramsey allowed a 76.3 passer rating in his coverage area, which is exceptional. He was targeted 70 times and allowed 45 completions for 396 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception.

▪ In 2021 for the Rams, Ramsey yielded an 84.5 passer rating in his coverage area, still very good defensively. He was targeted 117 times, allowed 72 catches for 873 yards, with five touchdowns permitted and four interceptions.

▪ In 2022 for the Rams, Ramsey relinquished a 98.6 passer rating in his coverage area (78th among NFL cornerbacks), permitted 56 of 86 targets to be caught for 712 yards and seven touchdowns. Only AJ Terrell allowed more touchdown passes (nine) than Ramsey among NFL corners.

Yet Pro Football Focus still ranked Ramsey third among cornerbacks last season because he made a bunch of plays on the ball (including four interceptions) and was outstanding as a run defender.

There are striking similarities in some of Ramsey’s and Howard’s numbers last season and recent career arc.

Last season, Howard allowed 58 receptions on 87 targets, while Ramsey permitted 56 on 86 targets. Howard yielded six touchdown passes, Ramsey seven.

But here were the two big differences between Howard and Ramsey last year:

1). Howard had only one regular-season interception, after hauling in 10 and 5 the previous two seasons. Ramsey had four, which tied for sixth most among corners.

2). Howard allowed 910 passing yards on receptions against him, most in the league, while Ramsey allowed 712 on just two fewer completions against him. That 712 was 12th most among cornerbacks.

So last season, Ramsey allowed fewer yards per catch (12.7) than Howard did (15.7), when Howard permitted a 114.6 passer rating in his coverage area, 15 points worse than Ramsey’s.

Keep in mind that in 2020, when Ramsey was at his best (76.3 passer rating against, just 396 yards allowed), Howard also was at his best, permitting just a 53.0 passer rating in his coverage area, with 10 interceptions and four touchdowns yielded.

Like Ramsey, Howard’s 2021 wasn’t quite as good as his 2020, but much better than his 2022. Howard permitted an 88.2 passer rating in 2021 (compared with 84.5 for Ramsey), with seven TDs permitted but also five interceptions.

The key is getting both of those players back to their 2020 form, or at the very least, their 2021 form.

It’s not too much to expect - Ramsey is only 28, Howard 29. Both are immensely talented. Both, at one point in this decade, could make a strong case for being the best cornerback in the league.

They’ve been friends for several years, had dinner together when the Dolphins were in Los Angeles last December, and their on-field chemistry should be very good.

“We’ve had some success in our individual careers up until this point,” Ramsey said. “We plan to have more success now together in the same secondary as a duo.

“I’m going to keep being me. I’m going to keep talking. If I get a little bit of that out of him and that elevates his game, cool. But if that is distracting to him, then I’m going to let him be him. He’s been successful, so I ain’t trying to do nothing but just bring the best out of him. It is crazy. Me and him really text each other at random times during the day since the trade happened, like ‘we’re really teammates.’ Because it’s crazy.

“Two years ago, both of us were first-team All-Pro together I think for the second time. We’ve been in Pro Bowls together. Like it’s really crazy to think about. You never really thought that we would be on the same team and be able to play at an elite level and help something special here in Miami.... I’m trying to influence him in the most positive good way I can and bring the best out of him because I know that’s what he going to do with me too.”

And Fangio won’t leave them on an island as much as predecessor Josh Boyer did; that should help. As Riddick and others explained, Fangio likely will use Ramsey in different ways, which could make him more effective.

Ramsey said he’s willing to be used how ever Fangio wants to use him.

“It’s a very similar scheme [to the Rams], so that’s a blessing,” Ramsey said. “I might have to learn some new terminology and how he names things and stuff like that, but I’m very familiar with the scheme, love the scheme. There are different ways to play it, and that just depends on the flow of our team and exactly what he wants me to do.

“But because I have that versatility, I can do whatever that he asks of me. If he wants me and ‘X’ to lock up the outside, that’s what we’re going to do. And then they’re going to do their jobs everywhere else. If he wants me to move around a little bit, go into nickel, go into dime, blitz, cover tight ends, running backs, whatever it is, I’ll be able to do all of it.”