DAVIE — The Miami Dolphins had a lot of needs entering this offseason, and safety didn’t really seem to be a high priority.
But Dolphins Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones didn’t look at it that way at all. What was Jones’ reaction when he saw the club was drafting a safety in the first round?
“It’s about time,” Jones said.
Jones has played with some decent safeties in his NFL career. And T.J. McDonald, who signed a big deal with the club prior to last season, is a big man and a big hitter.
But first-rounder Minkah Fitzpatrick is of a different mold. Fitzpatrick was a versatile, game-changing, play-making machine at Alabama.
As a member of the Crimson Tide, Fitzpatrick had nine interceptions — and returned four of them for touchdowns. Fitzpatrick also returned a punt for a touchdown.
“He’s been making plays, getting his hands on balls early,” Jones said of the first week of Dolphins organized team activities. “I think it was a good pickup. I think he will definitely help us.”
The Dolphins had only nine interceptions last season, 28th in the NFL. Miami forced only 15 total turnovers, 29th in the NFL.
Jones said tightening up coverage, increasing sacks and better communication should lead to more turnovers in 2018. The Dolphins also hope to confuse opponents with multiple looks, including three safeties who can move around the field.
“I think we all are versatile safeties,” Jones said. “I can play strong safety, free safety. I guess it gives us an extra element of coverage. We have two strong defensive ends right now that are going to get after the quarterback. I know with Minkah on the field and all three of us on the field, that gives us that extra lock down coverage.”
In Fitzpatrick, coach Adam Gase says he sees a young player committed to learning quickly.
“I know he’s trying to immerse himself in this stuff,” Gase said. “He’ll do anything he’s asked to do. No matter what group he’s running with, he’s trying to put himself in position to make plays and make sure that he’s doing his job.”
Veteran Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard believes the addition of Fitzpatrick will pay dividends.
“I saw him make a lot of plays at Alabama,” Howard said. “I was watching him when I was in the league. Just seeing him out there making plays, I know he’s a play maker.”
Jones has told Fitzpatrick simply to be himself and do what he does well.
“Continue to do what you’ve done to this point,” Jones said. “Continue to be Minkah. I think he’ll be fine.”