The Miami Dolphins have plenty of issues and linebacker Kiko Alonso is probably one of them. Sorry Jay-Z for butchering the lyrics to one of your most famous songs.
However, let’s look at how Kiko Alonso can be better and get back to the play maker he was in 2016, by far the best season of his career.
Last offseason, Alonso signed a contract that seemed lucrative and paid out the majority of his bonus, a 3 year extension that put him at 29 million with 18.5 million guaranteed. Alonso’s contract, however is not a lucrative for the Dolphins to just outright cut him.
According to Spotrac.com,. Alonso’s deal signed last offseason (2017) goes from a $1,075,000 to a whopping and astronomical raise that many of us can’t fathom to nearly 8 million dollars at $7,875,000. Alonso’s bonus pays out at $1,762,250 plus a 25,000 dollar workout bonus each season.
This much is known-Alonso is being paid quite well by the Dolphins, so much so they wanted him in uniform this past offseason and didn’t want to tag nor transition him or heaven forbid let him hit the market.
Looking a bit deeper into how his numbers equate with his production, Alonso this season finished the season, healthy and playing 16 games. While his best season was in Buffalo (2013) as a rookie with 159 combined tackles, Alonso clearly has developed some consistency in combined tackles, amassing 115 in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Tackles alone don’t tell the entire story for Alonso has he was the worst rated linebackers per Ryan Smith of PFF, he said this concerning Alonso after the Buffalo game week 15:
“Linebacker Kiko Alonso had a top-five LB grade for the third time this season in Week 14, but struggled once again against his old team in Buffalo this week, finishing the game at 29.8 overall. He was targeted eight times, allowing seven receptions for 71 yards (all team-highs). He also struggled in the run game as well missing two tackles, bringing his season total to 13.”
What’s most telling about the statistical breakdown is the 71 yards given up via pass to the Bills, a statistic that should not sit well with Adam Gase and most of all Matt Burke, the Dolphins current defensive coordinator.
Looking at both 2016 versus 2017- Alonso’s grades per PFF were:
2017 final overall grade at 39.0, ranked 76th for all linebackers, 62.4 versus the run and 35.5 in coverage.
Alternatively, basing his contract on his 2016 numbers, Alonso earned a grade of 72.9 overall, much higher than his overall this season and the 48th ranked linebacker and better than Lawrence Timmons whom the Dolphins settled on during last offseason.
In fact, for comparison’s sake, the Dolphins had other options at linebacker in addition to Alonso and chose Lawrence Timmons who was charged with stopping the run and helping in pass coverage. The Dolphins brought Timmons in to be the guy in the middle and also drafted Raquon McMillan out of The Ohio State.
The Dolphins, per Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post, had a choice of various linebackers: Dont’a Hightower, Timmons (whom they signed), Zach Brown, Malcom Smith, Will Compton, Paul Worrilow, Gerald Hodges, Nick Bellore, and Keenan Robinson. PFF grades alone, Dont’a Hightower was the highest ranked at #12, but the Dolphins probably had less of a chance to obtain his services via free-agency as he commanded far more money than what Timmons signed for.
Consequently, the Dolphins settled on Timmons and Kiko was tasked and therefore trapped and set as the cover linebacker as teams continuously targeted him in their passing game plans. It’s no secret that Kiko could not “hide” the issues he had in coverage and therefore was exposed early and often in 2017.
Going forward, as the Dolphins look to take several cost-saving measures with their current salary cap, they should start at linebacker and jettison Timmons who went AWOL week one and didn’t perform as advertised on or off the field. Surely Timmons had some games, but look for the Dolphins to surround Kiko Alonso with some talent so that he can do what he does best, run downhill and make bone-crushing hits.
As an aside, while Kiko Alonso had a down year as a Dolphins linebacker on the field, he’s fulfilled the call of helping out in Puerto Rico this offseason after Hurricane Maria destroyed the island last fall. It’s inspirational to see Alonso put into action his passion for “su gente,” and if you happen to read this last paragraph, check out Kiko’s website: kikoalonso47.com and consider purchasing a GIVE shirt to give back and help Puerto Rico. Alonso’s YouCaring site has raised over 165,000 for supplies to Puerto Rico (Dolphins.com).
Kiko Alonso’s visit to Puerto Rico has also been highlighted in this article by Alain Poupart of the Dolphins.com