By now, Miami Dolphins fans should be well-versed in unexpected losses.
Six weeks ago, the Dolphins and Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey opted for major hip surgery that will keep Pouncey out for at least the first month of the regular season. Two weeks later, the NFL tagged 2013 first-round pick Dion Jordan with a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
So when the news came down Friday that starting safety Reshad Jones also will miss the first four games of the regular season, Miami fans had to ask, “What else can happen?” Jones was suspended for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, as well. He was second on the Dolphins last year with 107 tackles and his absence leaves a hole in the secondary.
“I was very disappointed when we found out about Reshad's suspension," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said in a statement. "When we talked to him, Reshad pledged to learn from this situation.”
Jones' loss, combined with the two others, presents ominous signs for the Dolphins in 2014.
Miami is capable of overcoming the loss of Jordan or Pouncey or Jones as individual cases. But can the Dolphins overcome the accumulation of all three simultaneously? Miami, which has the league’s 12th-toughest strength of schedule, will face the New England Patriots, at the Buffalo Bills, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders in London without these three key players.
Starting fast will be key for Miami. The Dolphins, like most teams, have adopted the “next man up” philosophy. Backup safety Jimmy Wilson will get an opportunity to replace Jones, Samson Satele will fill in for Pouncey, and backup Derrick Shelby will get some of Jordan's reps and have an even bigger role off the bench.
Miami's depth certainly will be tested right away in September. How the Dolphins handle the first month of their season without Jones, Jordan and Pouncey will play a sizable role in their overall success.