By: Jason Sarney
The Miami Dolphins continued their offseason Zoom sessions Thursday afternoon and the duo-of-the-day was offensive lineman Austin Jackson and linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel. Jackson a 2020 first round draft pick and Van Ginkel a 2019 5th-round pick share a commonality. They both let their play speak louder than their words. Not atypical on this Dolphins team and getting much juicy info out of them is basically like trying to find pearls in oysters.
However, both seemed to open up a bit and show some more personality. Each player is wise beyond their years with Jackson being just 21 and Van Ginkel a bit older at 25, being he transferred a few times in college before landing and excelling at Wisconsin. Van Ginkel had a mini-breakout season in 2020, having been very productive in a crowded Dolphins linebacking corp. He played in just 46% of the season snaps, yet a team-leading 72% of Special Team snaps. Jackson showed potential and progress in his rookie year, hoping to be an anchor on this young Dolphins protective unit.
As a defensive role-player essentially, Van Ginkel recorded 5.5 sacks, 48 total tackles and seemed to get his hands on the ball and/or quarterback in every game he played. He had 10 QB hits and four passes defensed while forcing three fumbles, and recovering a NFL season-long 78-yard touchdown return.
Multi-tasking on defense and special teams is perfect on-the-job-training for Van Ginkel, who is about to know what multi-tasking really is like come July. He and his wife Samantha, are welcoming their first child, and you can see the excitement on the soon-to-be-new-Dad’s face.
“I’m super stoked, it’s under two months away….I’m excited for him to finally arrive.”
When asked about how he will juggle the rigors of training camp and parenting, Van Ginkel said without losing the smile, “first off with the baby; it's going to be tough first being a father, being a husband, but I am going to do everything I can,” as he adds he will get home from practice and find that balance.
Shifting back to the field, Van Ginkel was asked about his double-duty (baby pun) on two units in 2020 as he said, “you know [Coach] Flores prides himself and his team and special teams."
While Flores is a Genie of Defense, Andrew will soon meet the Genie of Diapers. (Andrew, if you are reading this - don't let "The Genie" pile up...)
Levity aside, Van Ginkel added in reference to his special teams play and coaches mindset, "I really took that to heart and made the most of my opportunities."
Similar words are said from many Dolphins, and Van Ginkel spoke a familiar company line. "Whatever my role is, I am going to try to excel at it." Van Ginkel stated his training in the off-season will focus on a few aspects he is already pretty darn good at. “Continue to work on my pass-rush” and to “explode off the line and bend the edge.”
Van Ginkel spoke with confidence in his teammates and coaches and stated, “everybody buying in…taking care of your job. Making sure your grass is green and not your neighbors.” Head coach Brian Flores embodies this, as the 3rd-year linebacker said of him, “he’s hard-noised, he is going to be competitive…he’s going to push you to be the best you can be.”
Before Jackson sat in, Van Ginkel was asked about his offensive teammates development and he said, "he's competitive, he's tough; he's going to do exactly what the coaches ask of him. He added, "I expect him to make a big jump in year two."
The USC Trojan, who is just 21-years old heading into his sophomore NFL season, spoke with his usual quiet confidence. When asked about some differences from 2020 to this season Jackson said, "being able to have way more access to resources this year as opposed to last year certainly helps a lot." He then said, “we have all our drafted guys down here already; my class, we weren't able to do that."
Jackson was one of three 2020 rookies drafted by Miami, and with a few signings in the off-season as well as drafting Notre Damn rookie Liam Eichenberg, there are new names that are being thrown into the mix. Jackson is happy to have Eichenberg, Miami’s 2nd-round draft pick in April’s Draft. "He's a great player, honestly, he always has been. You turn on his Notre Dame tape...I am a USC guy, I always respected what those guys are doing there."
Like most things in Miami’s positional groups, Jackson preached a welcoming of the newer Dolphins saying, “with us having new people in the o-line group, in general, we do a great job getting them on the same page." As for those fellow sophomores, Solomon Kindley and Robert Hunt, Jackson said, “we want to do our job well and know we don't have any errors and want to do it fast.....with urgency.”
Offensive line coach, Lemuel Jeanpierre, has done an admirable job in helping what is essentially a patch-work offensive line gel. Jackson sung his praises saying, “as offensive linemen, the first five have to work as one and in terms of being on the same page, he does a great job with that."
The conversation inevitably shifted to Tua Tagovailoa and when asked about the quarterback’s progression, and even physical appearance including biceps (seriously), Jackson let a smile show as well as a laugh.
“He's got a beard... a little more bass in his voice." The laughing then started, as Jackson admitted, "I haven't seen his biceps." However, confirms, “that's my guy; he's a great kid."