There is not a day that goes by if you’re a New Orleans Saints fan, writer, or casual observer where you’re left without something to talk about. Depth concerns, injuries, and pending suspensions are the current wave, but as with anything in life, there’s always a balance that exists. Could current Miami Dolphins Cornerback Xavien Howard be a part of that balance that assists in evening out what has been a rollercoaster of a Saints offseason?
Jeff Duncan reported a week ago that if Xavien Howard was made available the #Saints would be ‘heavily involved’ well …— Brenden Ertle (@BrendenErtle) July 28, 2021
Howard is available
Speaking of Brenden, be sure to check out his piece diving deep into what a possible Howard trade could look like. It is unknown if the Saints would offer the compensation needed to land a player like Howard, but with Sean Payton pointing to the position.
But what kind of player is Howard? We’ve seen the stats, we know about the interceptions,(his 10 in 2020 was the most by one player since Antonio Cromartie in 2007) but what are some of the inner details that makes Howard elite week to week? The Phinsider’s own Jake Mendel granted us with some answers that range from Xavien’s success in Miami’s scheme, to where he thinks the two-time pro-bowler will suit up Week 1. You can follow Jake on Twitter @JMendel94 and The Phinsider @thephinsider.
Hope you all enjoy this episode of Outsider’s Perspective.
1. For the fans and observers that haven’t watched Xavien or the Miami Dolphins in-depth consistently, can you explain in detail the kind of player he is?
He is a complete cornerback. Howard being on the field almost makes it seem like the league’s rules aren’t tailored to offensive players. This is a guy who led the league in interceptions in two of the last three seasons. He is an all-business guy and that was the case before money issues floated to the surface with the Dolphins. Injury history and some off-the-field issues in the past, but a top-tier player on the field.
2. Arguably the biggest draw to Howard that jumps off the page is his ability to create turnovers at an elite level. Could you put into context what separates Xavien from other elite CB’s when it comes to taking away the football?
The Miami Dolphins run a man defense, which means cornerbacks are often left on an island in one-on-one coverage. The team also prefers physical cornerbacks who can win at the line of scrimmage. What makes Howard leap from good to great is creating turnovers in tough situations. Playing in man, often with no safety help, Howard spends his time chasing receivers and not looking at the quarterback.
Arguably Howard’s best talent is his ability to pick up on hints that the ball may be coming in his direction. Whether receivers are lifting their hands, looking up, or he happens to see the ball on a monitor, his timing is nearly perfect when it comes to turning around and making a play in the ball. He does it in every situation, too. He has a burst of speed that allows him to make up ground on receivers who may have the step, the hands to harness a dart on a slant pass, and the instincts to adjust to the field when the ball isn’t headed his way.
3. If a trade between Miami and New Orleans were to happen, what do you think it would look like? And what would you personally want?
I need to preface this by saying that there is no doubt that the Miami Dolphins are a better team with “X” on the field. With that in mind, Miami is competing for the playoffs and need to continue their upwards trajectory, draft picks next year don’t help with that. Of course, we think about Jalen Ramsey being traded for two first-round picks. The Dolphins could use some depth on the offensive line and a pass rusher to sure up the front-seven. Two high picks sound great, but to move a player like Howard, at this time of the year, would require not only picks but someone who can have an impact this year.
4. What’s the biggest misconception about Xavien?
What a great question. I don’t think there is any misconception about Howard. He has issues with injuries and the off the field issues certainly don’t help. However, he is top-tier when on the field and there is no denying that. As mentioned before, he is loyal to whoever is loyal to him. The Miami Dolphins made him the highest-paid corner at the time, but now that deal doesn’t look too great and Howard feels cheated as a result. While a solution isn’t clear, Howard’s situation is pretty straightforward.
5. If you had to predict the overall outcome, what team is Xavien Howard suiting up for Week 1?
My aqua and orange crystal ball tells me that the Miami Dolphins will use some cap space created by cuts and restructures to make Howard happy, at least for this season. It is important to keep in mind that this isn’t the first time a member of the secondary has had issues with the franchise. Reshad Jones removed himself from the defensive unit under Adam Gase and Minkah Fitzpatrick didn’t want to play for Brian Flores. Howard was on the roster for both of these situations.
While each situation is different, Howard has been close to disgruntled players before. It is also important to keep in mind that Fitzpatrick played week 2 of the 2019 regular season despite asking for a trade following the Ravens game. This is a tough situation and there isn’t a lot of examples to build off of, but unless a team (like the Texans in the Laremy Tunsil deal) blows Miami away, I am not sure he is being moved. Suiting up, though, is a different story. He may mention a nagging injury or find other ways to make his services unavailable on Sundays.
That was our time with Jake, be sure to check out all of his work and any Xavien Howard updates. We appreciate your time as always here at Canal Street Chronicles.
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