On draft night, Jevon Holland detailed a checklist of chores required of him as a youth before he could move on to more elective activities. These weren't your ordinary chores like cleaning one's room and taking the garbage to the sidewalk. For Holland, in addition to putting away the dishes, he banged out 100 pushups per night.
"I think that having those training regimens as a kid just puts me in a better place of organizing my own time and making sure that I'm holding myself accountable when no one else is trying to check me," Holland said back in April. "I feel like that is a part of being a professional is holding yourself accountable and making sure you're getting your job done."
Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores did little to hide his excitement about selecting the 2020 preseason All-American ballhawk out of the University of Oregon. Seven months later, Flores praised his protégé's quick acclimation to the professional game and advanced maturity.
"I think he's mature beyond his years," Flores said. "I think he's smart. I think he's obviously talented. These are all the things that we liked about him coming out. I think he's very much so a professional. I think from an intangibles standpoint, he's got a lot of things we're looking for. You combine that with his athletic ability, his ability to do multiple things. If he keeps up with the way he prepares, the way he practices, the way he is intentional about getting better, he's going to be ok in this league."
The discipline instilled in Holland was not exclusive to the football field, it was an entire way of life. When asked about Flores' comments, Holland elaborated on where that mindset developed.
"I would have to say it's my parents, really, giving me leeway to grow up, take care of my sister and drive her to school," he said. "Little things like that kind of pushed me forward to grow up quicker than I am. Then having my brother, he's four years older than me, he's close in age. Close enough to where I can learn from him and his mistakes and the things that he does good and then far enough where I can correct them myself or avoid something. Same thing in football with my brother also."
Holland's circumstances for a professional career were beneficial to his growth, no doubt, but he took the opportunity and seized it. The rookie has enjoyed an increase in playing time and a significant bump in production.
His 14 quarterback pressures are the most among any safety in the NFL and his 57.1 percent completion rate allowed checks in at 10th-lowest among his contemporaries with at least 250 coverage snaps (Pro Football Focus). The presence of Holland in multiple capacities helped Miami limit the Ravens to 10 points last Thursday, the lowest total in 46 career starts of Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Up next, the Jets, and a whole new offense to prepare for.
The Dolphins game plan adapts weekly based upon the opponent. That flexibility is expanded with players like Holland, who can line up anywhere on the field. Before the snap, Holland can be found in one position and by the time the play starts, he's in an entirely new location. What's more, he's one of the primary communicators on the defense.
"To play that position in our defense you have to be a great communicator," Dolphins Defensive Backs Coach Gerald Alexander said.
"To his credit, he's done the necessary work to figure out what to say, when to say it, the adjustments that need to be executed in certain defenses," Alexander continued. "Really, the biggest challenge for him is, as he was trying to get this information and understand what to say, is the confidence and value in which he says it. So now he can establish himself as a guy who's giving the primary communication and guys will listen to him because he knows what he's doing."
As the Dolphins defense continues to improve as the season progresses, so too does Holland. Holland became a full-time defender in the Week 5 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, playing 97.3 percent of the snaps in that game. He's missed only two defensive snaps since then. Over the last three weeks, Holland ranks top 10 among all NFL safeties in sacks, interceptions, quarterback pressures and tackles for loss.
"I think just his everyday approach of being in the building and working diligently every day since we got him, even before we moved facilities" Alexander said. "His approach, his questions, the things that he wants to know, the things that he works on, the accountability he holds himself to out there on the field and retaining the information really from the very beginning. So, when you've got a young guy who understands what it takes to go beyond the required time in order to be a true pro at this level, that's when you look at his maturity and you see that he's well beyond what your average rookie would be just from a maturity standpoint."
Tuesday Roster Moves
The Miami Dolphins today announced they have placed tackle Greg Little on injured reserve and waived safety Sheldrick Redwine. The team also signed defensive tackle Andrew Billings to the practice squad and released defensive end Jabaal Sheard from the practice squad.