When Brent Grimes was cut earlier in the offseason, the Dolphins lacked a go-to number one cornerback. Enter the Kiko Alonso/Byron Maxwell trade. The team is confident that Maxwell, who fits the prototypical mold of cornerback that new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph prefers, is primed for big things with his new team. That starts with a road game against the team who drafted him—the Seattle Seahawks.
Russell Wilson, drafted the same year as Ryan Tannehill, poses a unique challenge. Both an efficient quarterback whether it be inside or outside the pocket, the Seahawks field general has already been to two Super Bowls in his young career. Maxwell spoke earlier this week what it was like going against Wilson in practice and what to expect on game day.
“Practice is totally different than a game. ‘Russ’, I don’t want to say he’s a gamer, but the things he can do don’t necessarily show up in practice because he can escape and that’s a big part of his game. He’s a special player as far as that." he said. "Really, practice can’t really tell you what he can do. It’s going to be the first experience for me too, having to go against him. I was on the other side cheering for him. It’s going to be fun, though. I know he’s a competitor.”
When head coach Adam Gase was asked, he was in agreement with Maxwell, stating that sometimes familiarity is overrated and can at times be a liability.
“Probably a little bit but sometimes that can hurt you too because you start overanalyzing everything. Then you start getting all, ‘Well, look out for this and then if he does this and you start…’ It goes overboard. Sometimes players being able to study guys on their own, coming to their own conclusion, that’s sometimes a better way to go about it because you just don’t want to put things in your head and then all of sudden it’s not what you thought.”
Maxwell stressed being disciplined is the first step when attempting to neutralize Seattle’s signal caller:
“You have to be disciplined with your eyes. Your eyes can’t be in the backfield because he can escape and you have to know the play is going to be extended. You just have to make sure you’re on that and be disciplined. The ball is coming your way. He has a big arm. He has a great arm and can make all of the throws."
Almost as much has been written about the Seahawks “12th Man” homemade advantage as has been written about the team itself. Maxwell, however, sees things a little differently.
“Well, when we’re on the field, it’s going to be quiet because (Seattle’s) offense is out (there). (For our) offense, I wouldn’t tell them to worry about. It’s an away game. It’s an NFL away game. It’s going to be hard and you have to play.”
Recent history bears this out, as the Seahawks went 5-3 in regular season home games last year. They are tough, but beatable.
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph stresses how important it was getting a player of Maxwell’s caliber, especially after letting go of Brent Grimes this offseason: “He’s added a No. 1 corner for us. We didn’t have one before he got here after we let (Brent) Grimes go. He’s added a No. 1 corner for us (and) so far, so good. When he came in, he was about 205, maybe 210 (pounds). Now he’s down to 194 (pounds and) that’s helped his game. He’s running better. He looks quick out there. Having a guy who has played corner at a high level, that helps you, especially when you’re playing with a rookie opposite him.”
The Dolphins have a brutal four game stretch to start the season. Even though the odds-makers have the Dolphins at a 10 ½ point underdog, an opening week victory this Sunday would go a long way of reversing the trend of poor September showings for the team.
If the Dolphins pull off the upset, it would go a long way in boosting the team’s confidence as the Adam Gase era gets underway.
This story was written by Richard Wilt. Follow him on Twitter: @richardactor71
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