American Football

Pressure makes diamonds: Baker’s biggest critic may be his biggest motivator. Himself.


Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Will Jerome Baker’s promise to fans be the extra push he needs to be a breakout star?

Miami Dolphins 6th-year middle linebacker Jermone Baker is not new to the art of ominous, and cryptic tweeting. Half of what he puts out there gets misinterpreted, but this time I think it’s safe to say this was being straight up with it. He expressed dissatisfaction with his overall play last year and vowed to turn it around.

From recent memory and overall eye test, I didn’t think he was bad at all during any parts of the season. He played every game, and usually made plays all over my TV. When I look at the numbers, they’re solid. Second in tackles for the Dolphins (100), 4 sacks, and a top 3 pass-rush grade according to Pro Football Focus.

Now when I dig a little deeper into his numbers I see the room for growth. PFF also ranks him 17th overall at his position, 26th in coverage, and 30th against the run. Fans around the league would regard him as a middle-of-the-pack linebacker, and not give a second look. He could be looked at by other teams as a weak link on Miami’s stacked defense. Game planned toward.

We’re all watching, and you already know countless Dolphins Twitter accounts bookmarked that tweet waiting to save it for a rainy day. It’s a brave tweet to put out there, and if he doesn’t hold up to his end of the bargain, he will hear about it mercilessly. All is fair in love, and war on there. That’s some self brought pressure, but he has a lot going for him right now to balance the scales in his favor.

With the signing of multiskilled linebacker David Long Jr. as his running mate in Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense, Baker will finally get more freedom to roam. No more being the midfielder on defense. Baker has previously praised the new system so far, and it feels like a scheme his strengths were designed for.

With the eye test, and numbers shown, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Baker was a letdown last year. He had a lot of tackles and occasionally made big plays, but he didn’t feel like his best self. Now if you take Baker’s versatility, add a stacked defensive roster, Vic Fangio’s influence/defense, David Long Jr. as his tag partner, and this added pressure he publicly put on himself, it’ll make a diamond. An All-Pro/Pro Bowl type of diamond.

Will Jerome Baker be a breakout star this year?

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