Last season, the Miami Dolphins had several comeback player of the year candidates, most notably defensive end Cameron Wake. While Wake did not win the award, he did find himself back in the Pro Bowl and among the top players in the league. Wake tallied 11.5 sacks during the season and, despite coming off an Achilles tear, did not appear to have lost any of his explosiveness off the ball.
In 2017, the Dolphins will be looking for a similar comeback from a couple of key players. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be returning after missing the final three games of the regular season, as well as the team’s Wildcard playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, after spraining his ACL and MCL. While he will be making a comeback, missing just the last three games of the year will likely lead to him being overshadowed by other players from around the league.
Including, one player from his own team. Safety Reshad Jones appeared to be on his way to making a case for an All-Pro selection in 2016 before a shoulder injury required surgery and he missed the rest of the season. A 2015 Pro Bowl selection with 135 tackles, two sacks, ten passes defensed, and five interceptions including a league-high two touchdown returns, Jones recorded just 51 tackles, 0.5 sacks, four passes defensed, and an interception last year in six games played. The Dolphins and Jones will be looking for a 2015 performance from their starting strong safety in 2017.
Pro Football Focus on Tuesday identified Jones as one of the top five potential comeback player of the year candidates for the 2017 season. They wrote:
On his way to arguably the best season of his career, Reshad Jones tore his rotator cuff in Week 6 and was placed on injured reserve. A playoff team in 2016, Jones’ presence could have been vital down the stretch and in the postseason. Fresh off a five-year, $60 million contract extension this offseason, Jones will have a lot to prove post-injury. He’s never put up the gaudy coverage stats that defensive backs get recognized for, but is rarely out of position in coverage and is one of the best run-defending safeties in the NFL. If Jones can be a playmaker in 2017, he might win the AP award, but his excellent all-around play will get him recognition at PFF.
The Dolphins clearly could have used Jones down the stretch last year, especially in run support as the safety seems to love to come up and play the run line a linebacker. This year, with a re-tooled defensive front seven, Jones could be the spark the team needs to lock down the run and get back to the Playoffs. If he is able to do that, a comeback player of the year award could be landing on Jones’ mantle.