DAVIE — Cornerback Bobby McCain had some serious binge-watching planned this off-season. But when he sat down for his marathon session, it wasn’t necessarily with popcorn, but a notepad.
McCain wasn’t catching up on Game of Thrones.
More like Game of Throes.
McCain watched all 16 of the Dolphins’ games from 2017 — each more than once — and given that it was a 6-10 season, what he saw could be classified as a bit of a tragedy. And now, McCain the cornerback and McCain the critic have reached the same conclusion:
“We lost a bit of fire,” McCain said of the defense. “We lost a bit of, ‘Your back’s against the wall, go get it.’ The year before, offense makes a turnover, boom! The ball’s in our own territory, we stop them to a field goal.”
It was more than the absence of the big plays from 2016 that helped get this team in the playoffs. What also jumped out at McCain was what happened when the defense did make a big play.
“We call it ‘put a hand on a helmet,’ ” McCain said. “Like celebrating. Having a good time. You’d see a couple of guys putting a hand on a helmet. No. We need all 11. If a guy makes a great play, we need all 11 there. We’re going to have that energy this year.”
What the tapes revealed surprised him, because in the week-to-week bustle of the NFL season, he didn’t sense it was missing, even though he knew the defense’s No. 16 ranking, and 29th in scoring, shouted mediocrity or worse.
This is where McCain comes in. He’ll be 25 when the season starts, no longer a fifth-round draft pick fighting to make the roster but a fourth-year pro whom the young guys are coming to for answers. And if that weren’t enough …
“It’s a contract year,” he said. “It’s no secret. But me personally, I just think I go out and play ball. You go out and play ball, it’ll all end up working for you. You go and and win ballgames, everybody gets paid.”
Asked Tuesday if the Dolphins have approached him about an extension, McCain became tongue-tied in a way players sometimes get when they sense progress is being made and they don’t want to jinx anything.
“I mean … uh … uh … ,” McCain said.
Dolphins coaches have shown increasing confidence in the versatility McCain brings. Although he started only seven games last year, the Dolphins were in nickel coverage so often, it was almost as if McCain were a 12th starter. Even with the arrival of first-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick, a safety, McCain’s goal is more playing time in 2018, whether it’s on the boundary or in the slot.
“I’m a corner,” said McCain, who’s 5-feet-11 and 192. “I want to be in the game, as everyone does. Whatever we feel is best for the team, that’s what I’m going to do, whether it’s outside, inside.”
McCain clearly has respect not just from the coaching staff, but within the secondary meeting room.
“He studies and he’s a smart player,” safety T.J. McDonald said. “He’s quick. He’s a competitor and that’s the biggest thing, is his grit. Even though with his size, he’s got a great heart. That grit, that energy that he brings, it’s going to help any defense.”
And energy, McCain promised, won’t be in short supply this season.
“People say it’s on the coaches,” McCain said. “No. It’s on us. At the end of the day, we’re the ones out there playing and we’re the ones that have to get it done.”
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