The Dolphins corner enters his fourth year focused on determining how to consistently position himself to make more of these game-changing interceptions.
With the implementation of Kevin Coyle’s attacking defense, there will be a emphasis on creating takeaways this season, just as his ball-hawking secondaries in Cincinnati had. Despite missing four games last season, Davis tied a career-high with four interceptions. It’s not as if a secondary, with a different type of scheme, intentionally shies away from the football–the ability to create turnovers can turn a good defense into an elite one.
So how do you practice for this? Davis said it all starts on a fundamental level.
“The better you get your technique, the better position you’re going to be in to make plays,” Davis said. “The biggest thing for a corner is be hard on yourself on technique. That will matter because if you’re playing technique all the time, it’s going to put you in a position to make plays.”
Because of Coyle’s background–he coached Cincinnati’s secondary prior to becoming the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator–there’s a spotlight on the Dolphins defensive backs, even if that pressure may be artificially created by the media or fans. Davis assured, though, that the extra heat is real, not imagined.
“He’s always on me,” Davis said. “If I do a little thing wrong—me, Sean, the safeties, Reshad (Jones)—you will never get it past Coach Coyle. Never.”
Though he and Sean Smith are entering just their fourth NFL seasons, they’ve become the most-tenured players in the Dolphins secondary. In the past, even if expectations were high, Davis was able to operate in an insulated environment. If he needed it, there was always a veteran teammate, a team leader, to help ease the professional growing pains. Now, though, Yerermiah Bell and Will Allen are gone. This, in many ways, will be Davis and Smith’s unit to mold, and Davis isn’t backing down from the challenge, feeling that, for now, his actions will speak louder than any words could.
“We’ve got to lead by example first,” Davis said. “You can’t really say as much if you’re not doing your job. The biggest thing is doing our job, make sure the younger guys see what we’re doing that’s helping us, which is getting better every day. As long we handle that, doing our job, they’ll follow.”
When Davis has lined up during team drills this offseason, the offense staring back must look completely foreign. Much of the personnel–with the exception of a few new faces–looks the same, but Joe Philbin’s offensive concepts are radically different.
“Well, they move fast,” said Davis. “You have no time to think; you have to be ready. Coach Philbin’s offense, it doesn’t wait for the defense. If they’re not ready, we’re going.”
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