by the majority of the first half of the Miami Dolphins’ season, there was controversy over it being unclear who was calling offensive plays between co-offensive coordinators George Godsey and Eric Studesville and quarterbacks coach Charlie Frye.
The latest line of questioning surrounding play calling has shifted to defense.
With coach Brian Flores seen holding play sheets and communicating into his headset while the defense is on the field, observers have wondered over the Dolphins’ back-to-back wins against the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens if Flores is indeed calling plays over defensive coordinator Josh Boyer.
Boyer countered on Tuesday.
“Ultimately, it’s just my job to make sure that we get the right calls in there on game day,” he said. “There’s sometimes during timeouts or in between series that we may discuss that as we go, but it’s really a non-story. I don’t know what people are looking at.”
Various onlookers have pointed to the play sheets Flores holds on the sideline, but Boyer insists Flores has those for each of the three phases of the game.
“He has all three call sheets on game day. I would say Flo is very involved if it’s in the kicking game, offensively and defensively,” Boyer said. “There are definitely times where he interjects in the game. There’s other games where he’s just like, ‘What do we got here?’ He does so many things during the game. It’s hard to pinpoint one thing or the other. I’m not sure what people are seeing, one way or the other.”
From Flores’ side, he volunteered, without being asked, that Boyer called the defense on Thursday night against the Ravens.
“I think Josh did a great job calling the game, called it aggressively,” Flores said in response to a question about some of the strategy used in limiting quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense.
He also answered a direct question on Monday following the victory over Houston, stating that Boyer called the defense on Nov. 7.
As far as the play sheets are concerned, they didn’t just pop up in last week’s two games. Flores can be seen holding them in images of him on the sideline in games prior to the recent wins over the Texans and Ravens.
Baker on the edge
Part of that aggressive game plan against Jackson on Thursday, in addition to heavy blitzing of safeties Jevon Holland and Brandon Jones, involved playing Jerome Baker on the edge at outside linebacker for a meaningful number of snaps.
Baker didn’t put up his usual team-leading tackle numbers like he has when he’s at inside linebacker, recording four plus a quarterback hit, but having his speed on the edge was a meaningful in countering Jackson’s ability to run.
“Lamar Jackson’s a pretty fast guy, right?” said Dolphins outside linebackers coach Rob Leonard. “So I think just, in general, you want speed on the field when you have a lot of speed you have to explain.”
Baker played every defensive break on Thursday, and his versatility allowed various other defenders to get in at different spots. Outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel was in on 67 of 73 snaps. Jaelan Phillips played about half of the plays. Elandon Roberts’ snaps were down to 38 percent, while fellow inside linebacker Duke Riley also was in on approximately a third of defensive plays with Baker seen more on the edge.
It was something the defensive coaching staff knew it could be comfortable with on a short week of preparation for a difficult offense to contain.
“Jerome’s played on the outside; he’s played on the inside,” Boyer said. “He’s played in the interior in certain situations for us. I think he’s a very multiple player. … We ask him to do a lot of things, and that can change from week to week.”
additional Leonard: “Bake can do a lot of things. He’s a pretty skilled guy, and he helped us out for sure playing on the edge.”
And the various position coaches can adjust to in any case’s asked of a particular player based on matchups.
“Everybody kind of contributes to each guy,” said linebackers coach Anthony Campanile. “When you watch us, there’s DBs playing at the second level sometimes; there’s D-linemen doing some different things, dropping into coverage. There’s linebackers pass rushing, linebackers on the ball, linebackers in man-to-man coverage.”
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