The Miami Dolphins defense didn’t live up to its full potential a season ago under former defensive coordinator Josh Boyer. Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard had an off-year as well. But just because Howard’s stats didn’t live up to what we’ve come to expect from the shutdown cornerback DOES NOT mean he’s washed. And he’s out to prove all the doubters wrong in 2023 under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
Howard was asked his thoughts on what people were saying about his 2022 campaign last week during OTAs, and there is no doubt it motivated X to take his game to the next level.
“Just seeing people saying I’m washed, I’m getting older, and stuff like that. Just a little bit of motivation. People are going to say this and say that. I’ve been proving the critics wrong my whole life, so it’s nothing new.”
He then talked about how adding Jalen Ramsey to Miami’s secondary will help motivate him to be the best version of himself.
“I love it. I feel like we’re definitely going to push each other and push everybody in the secondary, the whole defense, I’d say. They’re going to start with us. I love it. I’m looking forward to competing.” Howard continued, “It’s motivation. We’re also going to compete against each other. We’re also going to make each other better. We’re also going to help the team a lot.”
Howard talked about his relationship with Ramsey before their time in Miami.
“We’ve always been cool. We always respect each other and stuff like that. We had a relationship – he came to my Pro Day, and we were just chopping it up before the draft and stuff like that. We always had a good little relationship.”
He wasn’t shy about his excitement to play under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
“His defense has always been top-five, so he’s been doing a good job at that. I’m looking forward to having him on my side now and improving our defense.”
Howard then talked about playing more zone coverage in 2023 and how that may differ from the heavy-man coverage he’s played in years past.
“Yeah, getting my eyes on the quarterback is going to be something different. I’m not looking at the quarterback, so now I’ll get my eyes on the quarterback and understand route concepts. I feel like it’ll help my game.”
But that isn’t stopping Howard from having high expectations for the Dolphins’ defense in 2023.
“I feel like the sky is the limit for the secondary. I don’t want to put nothing out there right now. We still have to play, and we still have to do training camp and preseason. There’s a lot of stuff that we’ve got to get over.”
Last year, Howard was banged up with not one but two groin injuries that the cornerback said he suffered back in Week 2 of the season. He’s now healthy and ready to redeem himself after a disappointing season — where he earned Pro Bowl honors, even if he didn’t think he deserved it.
“I really didn’t like it. My expectations, I feel like it wasn’t Pro Bowl caliber. Even though I made it, I was like ok. But it made me even push harder. Like I don’t want to get in like that.”
If Howard can return to form alongside newcomer Jalen Ramsey, the sky is truly the limit for the Miami Dolphins defense in 2023 and beyond!
What are your thoughts on Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard in the same secondary? Do you think Vic Fangio’s defense will help Howard take his game to the next level? Will Miami’s defense be significantly better in 2023? Let us know in the comments section below!