David Long Jr. Emerges as New Leader of Miami Dolphins’ Defense

David Long Jr. plays with an edge that the Miami Dolphins' defense will need after losing Christian Wilkins and other leaders on defense.

We can measure statistically how much productivity the Miami Dolphins‘ defense lost in their offseason salary cap purge.

What is harder to quantify: What the team lost in terms of spirit and leadership.

Christian Wilkins, Andrew Van Ginkel, Jerome Baker, Xavien Howard, and DeShon Elliott brought intangibles to the table that aren’t easy to replicate.

Are Miami Dolphins Expecting More From Fiery David Long Jr.?

That’s why linebacker David Long Jr. demurred when asked to name the “dogs” of the 2024 Miami Dolphins defense.

What we can say without hesitation: Long’s name should be on that list — and probably the top. He plays with a fire and intensity that is impossible to deny.

“There’s still some guys from last year here,” Long told reporters Tuesday during his first media availability of the offseason. “We still got, you know, [many of] the same dogs that you seen last year, and I’m sure more will come along. But we can’t just give that name out so loosely. Players gotta go learn that.”

Expect Long to set the tone with Jordyn Brooks, his new running mate at off-ball linebacker. After cutting Baker a few months back, the Dolphins signed Brooks away from the Seahawks on a three-year, $30 million contract.

Brooks started all but one game the last three seasons in Seattle, recording an astounding 184 tackles — including 109 solo — in 2021.

“Well, of course, I had a lot of fun playing with Bake, but the good thing about the league, man, is there’s a lot of good guys in this league,” Long said. “And I feel like, you know J.B. came in and [Anthony Walker] came in, fit right in.

“We already knew Walk is a friend with a lot of guys in the team. So he fell right in. As far as play style, haven’t got pads on yet, but as far as how we fit into the defense, it’s feeling good right now. Everybody’s clicking and learning, every day.”

KEEP READING: Dolphins’ 53-Man Projection: Most Concerning Part of Defense

Long, this offseason, is learning his second defense in as many years. He totaled 113 tackles (including nine for loss) in Vic Fangio’s scheme last year. Will he have the same level of success playing in Anthony Weaver’s system?

“In my opinion, it’s not that difficult to grasp it,” Long said. “A lot of this stuff throughout the league is the same. You know, just different terminology. Once you get the basics of these defenses down, you know, it all kinda like overlaps.

“So, that’s the good thing. The good thing is we’re all here early. So we can all learn at the same time, you know, help each other. I think that’s one of the best things working for us right now.”

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