Johnson recently joined The Finsiders and gave a bit of a sneak peek of how the new Dolphins defense will be constructed.
“That was the thing that kinda helped me sign here, that I was most excited about,” Johnson said. “They said they were going to base it more out of quarters and just a mix of things, mix it up real well and be very balanced.”
Rejoining a defense that emphasizes more man coverage appealed to Johnson, who was forced to adjust when he was drafted by Minnesota.
“That excited me because that’s all I ran at Arkansas St. was quarters and man,” Johnson said. “We didn’t really run much (cover) two, but with the Vikings that’s all we ran. It’s more of a Tampa 2 team.”
The installation of a quarters defense would signal a bit of a tactical change for the Dolphins defense. It divides up the field into four segments and gives each defensive back a portion of the field to cover. By keeping linebackers in tight, it means the defensive backs, Johnson included, will have more responsibility to stick with a team’s opposing receiver.
“He’s going to be on that wide receiver a lot, so you’re going to have those linebackers jumping those flats,” said Twan Russell, a former Dolphins linebacker. “They might be in press coverage, carrying them up the field with a safety over the top, but no longer are you going to have a press deal where they’re pressing and they let the wide receiver pass them.”
This, of course, doesn’t signal whether the Dolphins will play a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense, but it should allow the front seven to focus on stopping the run and rushing the passer.
“That’s shutting down the run,” Russell said, “because any time you keep your linebackers closer to the line of scrimmage, you’re more powerful for the run.”
If there is a void in a quarters defense, Russell cautions it could be deep down the field, especially if an athletic tight end gets matched up on a linebacker and bursts up the seam. Johnson, however, said that his ability to cover the new breed of tight end was one of the reasons the Dolphins liked him.
“I can help out a whole lot with the bigger tight ends in the league, the Jimmy Grahams of the world,” Johnson said. “They’re looking just for more athletic safeties that can run and cover.”
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