9 interceptions in 13 games. 5 games in a row. Patrick Mahomes. Picked off. Russell Wilson. Picked off. 17 passes deflected. Xavien Howard folks…
Yet here we are, in week 13, and the media has only just decided to even mention his name. In fact, to make it worse, Colin Cowherd called him Xavier Rhodes earlier in the season. How does one even make that mistake. It’s almost as if nobody knows who he is. Of course, he’s just a Dolphins corner after all. And since when have the Dolphins been relevant.?
Sure, the Dolphins lost to the Chiefs on Sunday. There was a fair gap in the score at one point. But THIS…
…is worth talking about.
Has he been perfect? No. Let’s start there before anyone gets all up in my cheese about it. I’m a firm believer that corner is one of the hardest positions in this league to play. It’s very very difficult to get it right every single time. Especially with nightmare match ups like Tyreek Hill or DeAndre Hopkins in your face every week.
Xavien Howard, nicknamed ‘X’, covered DK Metcalf for 93% of his snaps against the Seahawks in week 4. Metcalf had nearly 200 yards in that game, and X managed one of his 9 picks against Russell Wilson. Worth mentioning this game, because it’s definitely not a highlight for X giving up the yardage to DK. Even though the guys a total freak of nature. However. He also covered DeAndre Hopkins for 87.5% of his snaps, when the Dolphins played the Cardinals in week 9. Hopkins was quiet that game. He caught 2 balls for 23 yards. Hard to do against the league’s best…
Champs in town.
This Sunday, Patrick Mahomes rolled into the Hard Rock stadium and I knew it was do or die for our defence. We’ve been touted one of the best in the league. The defensive numbers superb. Limiting other teams offences across the board, leading the league in takeaways. Second in the league in points allowed per game. So this was the test… could the Dolphins really do it against the reigning Super Bowl Champions?
The answer… was yes. The Dolphins forced three interceptions, two on tipped balls and one on the stud interception by X. Too many times we see Tyreek Hill dart beyond his man and Mahomes drop one in the bucket for him. This week, X leapt up into the sky and brought it down himself, to both Mahomes and Hill’s dismay. Elation ensues. Okay the Chiefs grabbed the win on the day. But for Dolphins fans, there’s never been more positives to take away from a loss.
What bugs me, is that it took the 9th interception, against arguably the leagues best player in Mahomes, for anybody to even consider Howard a player for defensive player of the year. He’s now 5th in the bettors odds to receive the award, as if the entire world has woken up to the fact that he’s doing it consistently almost every single week. 9 picks in 13 games is incredibly impressive.
Of course, it always feels like the media have their guys. Those guys only so much as to sniff the football and the entire world of Bleacher Reports and Sports Centres is tweeting about it. We need to see less repetition on Jalen Ramsey and Jamal Adams and more love for guys like X and Kenny Moore. Who also had a ridiculous one handed snag yesterday.
Take notice NFL. X isn’t messing around and he’s coming for your award. His 9 is the first time anybodies hit that number since 2012. Xavien Howard is in elite company… just check these out. If he gets one more he’ll be among:
Antonio Cromartie 2007, Champ Bailey/Asante Samuel 2006, Ty Law/Deltha O’Neal 2005, Ronde Barber/Anthony Henry 2001. Some hall of fame names in there. These are the only guys to have 10 picks in a season since 1990. And if you want 11, you have to go back to 1981 with Everson Walls of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Miami Dolphins defence is legit, and Byron Jones and Xavien Howard are an enormous contributor to that success. Keep an eye on this defence, and let’s start shining some light on Xavien Howards ball tracking skills in the media…
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