Could they emerge as leaders in what was a relatively young secondary?
Each had about one full season of starting experience (Clemons in 2010; Jones in ’11), but anything was on the table, including, possibly, a breakout performance as they each seized a little bit control more after the departure of Yeremiah Bell.
That, with an assist from defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, is what ended up happening last year. Coyle, formerly a defensive backs coach in Cincinnati, historically had a knack for reclamation projects, finding players in the bargain bin and turning them into serviceable starters. An example is Chris Crocker, the former Dolphins safety whose best days were in Cincinnati.
But Jones and Clemons weren’t really diamonds in the rough; they were — and still are — ascendant players with a good deal of potential.
Last year their one-two punch — Jones the playmaker and Clemons the productive signal-caller — started creeping into the “Best Safety Group” discussion. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, in fact, thinks they are already the league’s top group going into the 2013 season.
“Jones is a legitimate top-five talent at the position,” Miller writes, “and looking at what Clemons did in 2012, he deserves mention as one of the better young free safeties in football.”
Jones, now entering his fourth season with the Dolphins, was a star for the Dolphins defense in 2012, finishing with 94 tackles, four interceptions and two forced fumbles. His running mate, Clemons, re-signed with the team this offseason, keeping the back line of the defense intact. The fifth-year safety recorded 98 tackles and two interceptions in 2012. They, along with Jimmy Wilson, are slated to once again log the most play time at safety this season.
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