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Is Koa Misi headed for a stand-out season?

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Why Misi could be headed toward a career season

NFL: Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Koa Misi is a name that is unusual in that it is almost never the first name you see in a column or article, but also because it only has three consonants in it. Have three consonants ever caused so much bleh and meh and grumbled derision from a fanbase?

I have seen this guy trashed in so many unoriginal and childish ways it is somewhat irksome. I’m not just talking Joe Fan here either, but people who really spend time trying to capture as much information as possible. Even these really well informed people will relegate Misi to a necessary monetary evil and not as a valuable part of the complex puzzle of roster building.

If Misi were a puzzle piece, and not a delicious soup (I know it’s miso, but chill out), or a linebacker, he would be that first interior piece that unlocks a whole section of the puzzle. It’s value easily eclipsed by edge, corner, and of course the final piece. Still a really important piece, though you will have long forgotten which it was when you step back, the picture fully revealed.

This is the thing about being a good football player, who will play hurt, and not surrounded by anything that resembles consistent NFL talent. Throw in being just a bit too often injured and you get the groans and the moans vibrating across the social media sphere as his restructured contract is announced. Koa Misi is something else though, he’s entirely worth his very modest contract risk.

Health is the big question. Will Misi recover and be able to play in 2017? If no, the Dolphins will eat some unnecessary dollars against the cap this year, which will affect the roll over number for the 2018 offseason. If yes, you have a starting caliber LB at a special team price. Those are the dollar gambles you must take to leverage as much talent out of the hard cap as possible These are the type of deals that teams like the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers love.

Okay, and yes, I am well aware I am bestowing a lot of ifs in the favorable outcome bracket here. This is a really slow time of year and there is not much in the way of news to talk about, I will care about the draft maybe two days before it happens, so sunshine and rainbows is what you get. You can feel free to ask for a refund if I am wrong about all of this, which is still the most likely outcome.

Now that I have done my best to explain why I think this was an astute move by the Dolphins let me explain why this encourages me. Koa Misi has been very good in stretches during his career. Those stretches follow some common themes, not the least of which is the coaching staff not stranding him in one on one coverage with a back or slot receiver. Other features of those periods were a healthy linebacking group around him and he himself being healthy.

If he gets to play 16 games, without his body failing him, with Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons completing the standard starting group, Misi is in line for a stand-out season. While Alonso and Timmons are better at rushing the passer and none of them are fantastic in coverage, Misi will be a key if feature if the defense wants to stop the run this season.

His smart brand of football, usually being in the right place, rarely taking missteps in reading gaps, and good enough tackling skills are why he was drafted and extended by Miami to begin with. There cannot be enough stress on this point, if the Dolphins are really hoping to make strides on the defensive side of the ball they absolutely cannot be 30th against the rush again.

Players like Ndamukong Suh are the last pieces. Players like Cam Wake and Reshad Jones are corner pieces. Players like Xavian Howard and Byron Maxwell are edge pieces. The Koa Misi’s of the world are often looked at like something that never fits, when in truth you cannot start to fill in the rest of the puzzle until you find him and put him to his proper use. This Miami Dolphins coaching staff have already shown they are good at seeing the big picture and filling in the pieces as they reveal themselves. When Matt Burke and Adam Gase step back from the table and see their finished puzzle, chances are they will be more pleased with the result if Misi is part of that picture.