Van Noy, Roberts Showing the Ropes
In Miami, a 29-year-old stands as the old guard on the defensive side. With a roster full of first- and second-year players and guys barely approaching their mid-20's, Kyle Van Noy is the sage presence on the Miami defense just a few months shy of his 30th birthday.
Van Noy's versatility made him instantly attractive to the Dolphins this offseason when he became available. He had familiarity with Head Coach Brian Flores and thousands of snaps in New England sharing time off the edge and as an off-ball linebacker. He rushes the quarterback (128 pass-rush snaps), plays the run (159 run down snaps) and falls off into coverage (142 snaps in coverage).
Beyond the skillset that contributes to 33 tackles, two sacks, 16 quarterback pressures, two forced fumbles and a 28-yard fumble recovery return, it's the ripple effect Van Noy has on the younger players.
"He's incredibly bright," Dolphins Linebackers Coach Anthony Campanile said. "He's really been helpful for a lot of the younger guys, talking about the schematics of each game plan. He does a great job in preparation. And he does a great job in the game on the sideline in terms of being aware of the information and communicating with the players and coaches alike."
Another free agent linebacker acquisition, Elandon Roberts is checking in with big plays on a weekly basis. Entering the Cardinals game, Roberts made five tackles for loss in the previous four contests. Then, he teamed up with defensive tackle Zach Sieler for a pivotal hit on Chase Edmonds on a game-changing fourth down stop in the final minutes of Sunday's 34-31 win.
"We say this in the linebacker room, that big plays are made with anticipation," Campanile said. "When you can anticipate what's going to happen, that gives you the opportunity to go out and make some of those plays. He really studies as hard as he possibly can and just prepares relentlessly every week."
Dolphins Defensive Priorities
Dolphins Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer knows a thing or two about preparation. Miami's multiple defense comes in a wide variety of packaging with production from the entire roster. The Dolphins have, according to Pro Football Focus, 151 quarterback pressures from 16 different players and 19 players have at least 10 tackles this season.
Daily improvement, correcting mistakes and building off success are the focal points for every staffer and player in Miami; but Boyer listed the three things that he most concerns himself with on game day.
"Kind of going in order," Boyer explained. "One, did we do what we need to do to win the game? Two, we'd like to keep the point total down. Three, we'd like to get the ball back to the offense as soon as we possibly can. Obviously we're not trying to give up big chunk plays, but as far as the stats go, I don't really pay attention to them."
Pepsi Rookie of the Week Nomination
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is among five players up for the Pepsi Zero Sugar NFL Rookie of the Week for Week 9. You can cast your vote for Tagovailoa through Friday at 3 PM and the winner will be announced Friday on NFL Total Access on NFL Network and on NFL.com.
Dolphins Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey was impressed by the young quarterback in his second career start. Without running backs Myles Gaskin and Matt Breida, wide receivers Preston Williams and Lynn Bowden Jr. and tight end Durham Smythe, the Dolphins offense was without players who have played 961 snaps this season by the end of Sunday's game. Gailey says none of the circumstances bothered the 22-year-old quarterback.
"He has a tremendous feel for the game and that allows him to see some things and throw the ball in some spots that other people might not do," Gailey said. "He just went out and played the game. He didn't care who was there or who wasn't there. He doesn't think about adversity, he thinks about how can we be successful? And that will carry a person a long way."
Getting two games under his belt is a step in the right direction from an experience standpoint. Gailey detailed next steps for Tagovailoa in his growth and progress.
"He's got to see and understand defenses more and more and that just comes from doing it," Gailey said. "Understanding defenses, what they're trying to do, how they're trying to attack you, those are the strides I'm hoping he makes here in the next few weeks."
The results in football are always indicative of the work put in on the practice field and throughout the course of the week. As Campanile mentioned previously, the preparation leads to anticipation, which leads to production.
Developing trust in one another is another critical element to the team-first atmosphere and approach. Gailey praised Tagovailoa's ability to connect with his teammates.
"In practice, I see the way he interacts with the other players on our team and you see a real maturity there," Gailey said. "He has a great deal of maturity in how he builds relationships with people on the football team."
The link, once again, to vote for Tagovailoa for Pepsi Zero Sugar Rookie of the Week can be found here.