Written by Matthew Cannata
Four years ago, the Miami Dolphins drafted Koa Misi and inserted him in the starting lineup as an outside linebacker. This past offseason though, the Dolphins moved him to the middle in an effort to improve their linebacker unit. The middle linebacker position, also called the MIKE, is considered the quarterback of the defense so it’s not just a simple position switch for him. It’s not one where he just can slide over and keep on playing. He needs to learn all the line calls, diagnose the offense, move players around and make sure everyone is set in the right place before the snap of the ball.
Fortunately, he hasn’t taken this switch lightly and has been diving in head first every day, sometimes as early as 4:30 AM.
“I don’t sleep much, I tell you that much,” Misi said during the latter stages of the offseason program. “Before, I was getting up at about 4:30 trying to get in here as early as I can; couple of mornings I was in here a little bit earlier than that. That was when we were first getting into things, but I was getting used to it a little bit more. Now I can get myself a little bit more rest and still be able to do my job.
Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle said there were many reasons for the switch because Misi is the perfect example of how one should play throughout the entire game.
“Koa has such a physical presence,” Coyle said. “When Koa hits you, you stay hit for a while. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve used Koa as the example of, ‘This is how you compete each and every snap on defense.’ He’s got a great motor. Honestly, as we look back at last season, I felt that I didn’t keep him in the game as often as we could have because we were in that nickel defense on third down where he was out of the game some. We’ve got to get him more involved.”
The Dolphins signed Misi to a four-year contract extension last September that runs through the 2017 season. If the transition goes well and Misi becomes dominant in the middle, it won’t be long before he sees another extension but this time, with a lot more money.