Heading into Week 6 of the 2016 NFL season, the Miami Dolphins were reeling in a big way. They had won just one of their first five games, and that came against a depleted Cleveland Browns team. Heading into their home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Dolphins had lost back-to-back games to the Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans. Shockingly, the Dolphins kept their season alive by defeating one of the AFC’s top teams, but with the recent news of safety Reshad Jones’ injury, it may not matter.
While there was a lot to take away from the Dolphins’ victory over the Steelers, including the fact that running back Jay Ajayi was dominant, rushing for 204 yards and two touchdowns, Jones’ name once again stood out. As we’ve come to find as a consistent trend, the star safety for the Dolphins was at the top of the box score, as he totaled five combined tackles and his first interception of the season. Unfortunately, his torn rotator cuff not only derails a Pro Bowl-caliber season but also halts any momentum the Dolphins were in the process of building.
Miami obviously did something right defensively, as they held one of the NFL’s most powerful offenses to just 15 points and 297 yards of total offense. Through six games, Jones had tallied 51 combined tackles, four passes defensed, an interception and half a sack. He was on pace to be right near the top of the league in combined tackles of a 16-game season.
The issue here is that without Jones, who has started 80 games for the Dolphins, the team will be left with a makeshift secondary complete with some duo of Isa Abdul-Quddus, Michael Thomas or Walt Aikens. While Abdul-Quddus has been a starter and played solid to this point in the season, Thomas and Aikens fall more under the category of unknowns or question marks at the position.
It’s not so much the fact that one of the other names listed can’t contribute, but it’s more that losing Jones, who has received praise from all over is a brutal loss to the team. Not only was Jones ranked No. 64 on NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2016 countdown, but he was also praised by head coach Adam Gase following the team’s first win of the season over the Browns.
Per Joe Schad of Palm Beach Post, Gase stated the following about Jones’ play:
“I wish all our guys played with as much effort and heart as that guy plays.” Gase said.
While there will be more tests to determine if Jones does indeed have a torn rotator cuff, it almost goes without saying that if he does, that he’ll likely miss the remainder of the season. With plenty of tough matchups against good quarterbacks left on the schedule for the Dolphins in 2016, including a game against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, as well as Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals, not having Jones could all but doom the Dolphins to another high draft pick.