Long played just 17 snaps as Austin Eckler gashed Miami’s run defense for 117 yards on just 16 attempts. Speaking of players with limited playing time, safety Brandon Jones, recovering from an ACL injury he suffered last season, only played two snaps for the Dolphins.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio took to the podium Thursday afternoon and shared the reasoning behind the moves.
“[Jones has] been way behind in practice reps,” Fangio said. “Just didn’t feel he was quite ready to be out there yet, but he’s closing that gap and hopefully we’ll get to see him more here soon.
“And as far as [Long] goes, he was the starter in the base package, [Andrew] Van Ginkel was the starter in the nickel package and we ended up playing more nickel in that game.”
Van Ginkel played 51 snaps, logged four tackles, and earned a 70.9 coverage grade, according to PFF.
“We moved [Van Ginkel] there, tried him out there as you guys know starting in OTAs and in training camp, and felt that throughout that whole process, he kind of won the job on merit,” Fangio explained. “So he’s been doing a good job in there and we expect him to continue to get better.
“Doesn’t mean that the other guys – [Long] and Duke [Riley] can’t get in there some also, but it was just a job earned over time.”
The regular season features 17 games and every matchup is different. Looking ahead, the Dolphins have a Sunday Night Football showdown with the New England Patriots.
Miami struggled to contain Eckler, but considering a divisional bout featuring running backs Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliot, Miami’s base defense — including Long — may see considerably more time on the field this weekend.