Dolphins starters Wilkins and Van Noy were added to the Dolphins Covid-19 list yesterday and look set to miss Sunday’s game with the Chargers. With the Dolphins set to miss their first starters of the season, what would Christian Wilkins and Kyle Van Noy’s absence mean to the NFL’s number 1 scoring defence?
Despite Florida having been a hotbed of COVID-19 cases all season, the Dolphins have found themselves relatively unscathed until last weekend. With five assistant coaches, and Lynn Bowden Jr, missing the game in Arizona, the Dolphins were likely braced for more absentees.
But losing two starters, two stars, on defence in the same week will be difficult to handle. Both Wilkins and Van Noy rank in the Dolphins top-10 for tackles, and both top-6 in total pressures. Missing both in the same week as the high-powered Chargers offence comes to down could be downright painful.
If Wilkins and Van Noy are out who steps up?
With Davon Godchaux already out, and with no replacement added to the roster, the Dolphins were already a bit thin on the defensive line. With rookies Benito Jones and Tyshun Render already elevated from the practice squad in recent weeks to take some of the workload off Wilkins, Seiler, and Davis.
In fact, despite missing the last three weeks, Godchaux still ranks 17th on the team for defensive snaps.
So if Christian Wilkins misses time it will be a huge stressor for the line. Jones has already been elevated twice, so if the Dolphins want to play him they will need to add him to the active roster, which isn’t a problem as there is still that empty spot of Davon Godchaux’s.
With only Jones, Render, Jason Strowbridge, and Nick Coe on the roster to ease the burden we can expect to see a heavy dose of Strowbridge in all likelihood. While only active for one game, Strowbridge had 12 snaps compared to Jones 20 in 2 games, Render’s 8 in 1 game. Coe has yet to make the active roster on gameday.
In the LB corp things are a little more stable. If Kyle Van Noy misses the game his snaps would most likely be spread amongst Andrew Van Ginkel, Kamu Grugier-Hill, and Elandon Roberts. With a rotation most likely based on the situation, there will still be a big drop in level as Van Noy leads the linebackers so well.
There is also the possibility of rookie safety Brandon Jones being deployed as a linebacker in certain situations. Having lined up in the box on 98 snaps already, Jones could likely take some of the load assuming it’s only a one game absence.
With a defence that ranks 26th against the run facing the 8th ranked Chargers offence, losing Wilkins and Van Noy will pose some serious issues for Brian Flores defence. However, coach Flo has shown to be a very creative defensive mind in his 24 games in Miami so far. He will be very tested on Sunday.
With two of the team leaders in tackles and pressures missing it is incumbent that some of these rookies are able to take a step-up and make some big plays.
There is still seemingly some hope for Kyle Van Noy to make the game as The Miami Herald reports he is on the COVID-19 list as a result of contact tracing. And at this point we have to grasp on to any hope that both Wilkins and Van Noy won’t be missing.
Along with Wilkins and Van Noy, Matt Cole was added to the COVID-19 list, whilst Lynn Bowden Jr was removed.