Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas recently appeared on 120 Sports to discuss the outlook for the 2016 season, his work in the community, finishing his MBA (graduating from the University of Miami in May), and the offseason. During the interview, the 2015 Dolphins' defense came up, and Thomas did not pull punches.
"We won't be hand-cuffed on defense like we were last year," Thomas explained when asked how the 2016 defense will be better than the 2015 version. "We were limited to how many plays we could call, the type of plays we could call. And we had a lot of young guys back there. Not making excuses, this is fact, this is truth. With coach Joseph, we are going to get back to playing football, being able to mix things up, run different types of defenses, and keep offenses on their toes. Not be so vanilla where they know what we are doing.
"We signed a new safety from Detroit," Thomas continued, "which will allow him and Reshad [Jones] to play safety, which will probably allow me to move back into the slot. I'm going to have to compete for the job, with the new coaches, prove myself, but that will probably allow me to play in the slot. We will be more physical up there, so we will have better lineups."
"Truth. Facts," Thomas said when asked if defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was not used properly last year. "He wasn't put in position to make plays, like a lot of us. I wasn't put in position to make plays, because of injuries I had to play out of position, play a position I normally don't play. I normally play in the slot, we didn't have another safety, so they needed me to play safety, which was cool; I got a chance to start 13 games, the first time in my career. It was great, but like I said, we were very vanilla last year. It's not all on the defensive coaches, they had to deal with, had to work with what they had. It was very vanilla. Other teams knew it was very vanilla. They went out there and worked their game plan and executed. It's going to be a totally different product you see on the field this year."
The conversation was not all about how vanilla the defense was in 2015. "Going into that Patriots game in 2013, my only job was to double team [Matt] Slater on punt return," Thomas replied when asked about the importance of young players learning to play special teams as well as offense or defense. "That was my only job. But then guys ended up getting hurt, and I ended up going in on defense, but I knew the only way I was going to dress for that game is that Coach Rizzi trusted me to play on special teams."
Asked about health concerns he may have after he leaves the game, Thomas responded, "I've never had a concussion, even the ones you know, you don't report or you don't know you have. I've never really had that experience, so I thank God for that. The crazy thing is, this game has been changing over the years. We aren't playing the same type of football that Ronnie Lott was playing back in the day. They are trying to change the rules, the way guys hit, the way that guys tackle, and stuff like that, or else they fine you and they get in your pockets a little bit. I mean, just trying to tweak the way we play in the backfield, that's played part into it, and I've just been blessed and fortunate.
"Sometimes, it's not even always the hardest hits that give you a concussion," Thomas continued. "It's just the constant hits. I've just been blessed. I think I see some wood and I want to knock on it a little bit. I've just been blessed. I hope that for the rest of my career, I can continue to say that."
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