The direction of the Dolphins’ organization has changed since last season. Thus, much of the roster has changed.
Safety T.J. McDonald has remained. Now 28 and in his seventh NFL season, McDonald is one of the team leaders.
He is not stressing about the team’s youth movement.One day after cornerback Xavien Howard was named Dolphins MVP for 2018, Head Coach Adam Gase offered one reason for Howard’s success: consistency. In answering a question about Bobby McCain’s performance this season, Gase said: “There’s nobody I can really say, ‘Hey, this guy was …’ Well, there’s one guy. He’s had consistently good games. He’s had a couple of rough ones, but I think it was like the fifth or sixth week (before that happened with) Xavien. For the most part, everybody has just had … There’s been good and then there’s been bad. On defense, it’s telling because you get exposed. Everybody knows that guy messed that up. Offensively, you might be able to screw up and get away with it and nobody will really notice.”
“I play football,” McDonald said, via Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel. “I play defense. I play safety. I line up and play ball. Wherever they play ball, that’s where I play at.”
McDonald wouldn’t say whether he is working at linebacker, something new coach Brian Flores said in March could happen. McDonald, though, has dropped his weight 15 pounds to 215, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, which is a good sign McDonald will remain at safety.
The Dolphins’ offseason purge has created needs at every position except tight end (still hoping for Mike Gesicki to develop and that Dwayne Allen can hold it down) and safety (unless Miami trades Reshad Jones or T.J. McDonald this offseason).
General manager Chris Grier said Reshad Jones won’t be traded and is in Miami’s long-term plans. Problem is, the past two seasons have taught us that Jones and T.J. McDonald don’t play well together because of their comparable skill-set. Minkah Fitzpatrick would complement either strong safety because of his range and intelligence, but his best position might be nickel cornerback, which puts him close to the line of scrimmage. Depth at this position should be bolstered because Maurice Smith and Walt Aikens are mainly viewed as special teams contributors.
Safety T.J. McDonald was recognized Thursday as the Dolphins winner of the 2018 Good Guy Award.
Selected by those who cover the team on a regular basis, the Good Guy Award is given to the player who best demonstrates the spirit of cooperation with the media.
“I’m definitely thankful,” McDonald said. “For me, you’ve got to be able to stand up in hard times, just like the good times, just be a man about your business and with the media be a pro. That’s how I’ve always attacked it, through the good games, through the bad games. I know you guys are going to be in here, you’ve guys got a job to do. For me, it’s just being a pro about it and going about it in a professional way.”
McDonald follows guard Jermon Bushrod in winning the award, which first was given out in 2001 when it was given to linebacker Zach Thomas. The three winners before Bushrod were DT Jared Odrick, C Mike Pouncey and S Michael Thomas.
McDonald said his approach to dealing with the media came in part from his father, Tim, who was a six-time Pro Bowl selection during his 13-year NFL career with the Cardinals and 49ers.
“Good game or bad game, you gotta treat them both the same,” T.J. McDonald said. “I know you guys got a job to do as well. I see you guys all the time. You just want to get an environment, you want to be able to bring good energy to your teammates and stuff like that and trying to keep the locker room together.”