OTAs start for Miami Dolphins with at least one player expanding his role
We’re entering the back end of May, and from a football standpoint, that means that the pads aren’t necessarily on yet, but cleats and really awesome practice jerseys certainly are.
Monday morning officially started the Miami Dolphins organized team activity schedule for the 2023 offseason.
Monday, Tuesday and Thursday kick off OTAs, how they’re mainly referred to across football. They continue next week on the 30th and 31st and there’s one last session on June 2.
June 1 is a rather significant date for the Dolphins, as well as the brain trust of general manager Chris Grier and his partner in salary cap crime, er, construction, Brandon Shore. They’ll get $13.6 million dollars back on their side of the felt when cornerback Byron Jones officially comes off the books.
In addition, and potentially interestingly enough, there just may be a new participant or two for the last session in South Florida, before the entire team checks in for a mandatory minicamp from June 6-8. So, if Miami releases a pair of players or more this week or next, additions are all but a certainty post-June 1.
Shifting to the on-field activities, the Dolphins were back at it Monday morning and inside their Baptist Health Training Complex. As captured on social media and in continuation from last season, the orange practice jersey returned. Used to reward a player from the previous day’s work, wide receiver Jaylen Waddle repped the marvelous mesh in the opening OTA, which indicates nothing other than the third-year wideout is locked in and focused on 2023.
Jaylen Waddle with the first 🍊 Jersey of the Offseason ‼️🐧 #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/EOBECshytn
— Bobby Shouse (@B_Shousejr) May 22, 2023
Before the Dolphins hit the field, the news of the day was tweeted by NFL Network reporter, and bonafide Dolphins insider, Cameron Wolfe.
More on Andrew Van Ginkel at ILB nugget above:
Dolphins lacking some proven depth at ILB behind projected starters Jerome Baker and David Long. Deeper at OLB. Look for Van Ginkel to get reps with 2nd team alongside Duke Riley early. Channing Tindall and UDFAs working in too.
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) May 22, 2023
Building on Wolfe’s Tweet, new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in fact did bring the idea to Andrew Van Ginkel in the days leading into camp.
The specifics of the usage and whether it’s a full move to the inside or more a hybrid role with his outside duties remain to be seen. What’s for sure is that Van Ginkel needs a path to more than 29% of the defensive snaps, which was his rate last season under then-coordinator Josh Boyer.
A testament to the player he is, he supplemented this with top-end special teams play, participating in 68% of the snaps in the third phase of the game, even leading the team in special team tackles with 12.
Adding to this thread of preseason intrigue, Van Ginkel was literally inches from other opportunities, at least five, until a conversation was had when Fangio reached out to the fifth-year linebacker from Wisconsin.
One of the main reasons why Van Ginkel is still in Miami, Fangio could unlock his full potential, and a hybrid usage of inside and outside play could spike that snap count back up to over 70%, as it was in 2021. Should the inside experiment with Van Ginkel progress, it’d indicate a depth role behind ready-made inside linebackers, Jerome Baker and the newly signed free agent David Long.
Van Ginkel could, of course, also be within an outside linebacker rotation as well, that won’t feature a veteran from last season in Melvin Ingram. Playing in his 11th season, Ingram had a solid campaign for Miami as a one-year signed player, but he’s no longer with the team. Ingram played 512 snaps last season for 45% of the plays, and these downs could shift back to Van Ginkel.
Miami also said goodbye to inside linebacker Elandon Roberts, and with those 680 snaps at 59% of the defensive plays, you’d imagine Long is all but owning those downs on the interior of this unit. While Long and Baker could be the stalwarts, Van Ginkel and Duke Riley will add the ability to spell those “starters,” and each could see ample time on the inside of the second unit of the defense.
As for that snap count for Van Ginkel, in his career, it’s a statistically proven fact that when he plays often and is utilized right, Miami simply wins. When Van Ginkel blitzes eight or more times in a game the Dolphins are remarkably 10-1. He did this twice in 2022, and Miami was 1-1 with the loss coming against the Green Bay Packers game in Week 16.
When he blitzes nine or more times, Miami is 7-0 in his career. He was credited with a quarterback hit in six of those games, including 3.5 sacks. Furthermore, of those 10 wins, just one of them came last year when he was criminally under-utilized at under 30% of the defensive snaps on the season.
When Van Ginkel plays more than 70% of the snaps in a professional game, the Dolphins are 13-5. In those 18 games with that usage, his basic full season plus one game would read 74 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss and a whopping 23 quarterback hits.
If given the time on the field, the proof is in the production with Van Ginkel. With the coaching and faith clearly heading in his direction from Fangio, the former Badger could be one of, if not the most benefited from the addition of the veteran defensive mastermind.
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