While he enjoyed watching the Miami Dolphins defense have success with its ultra-aggressive style, Vince Biegel described 2020 as a "challenging year" for him on a professional level.
But now Biegel is back after sitting out last season because of an Achilles injury and he has re-signed for another go with the Dolphins and anxious to be part of the fun.
“I want to be a part of this organization long term because I think the best is yet to come for this team," Biegel said on the Dolphins podcast The Audible. "I think you guys know that; I think a lot of dolphin fans who understand the game know that. And what I'm doing is I'm making sure that I'm mentally, physically, spiritually ready to go help this team win ballgames when the season starts.”
Biegel entered the offseason as a pending restricted free agent, but the team re-signed him to another one-year contract before he had the chance to hit the open market.
Biegel is sort of an X factor for a Dolphins team that lost edge defenders Kyle Van Noy (released) and Shaq Lawson (traded) in the offseason, particularly if he can build off the promise he showed in 2019 when he arrived in a trade with the New Orleans Saints for fellow linebacker Kiko Alonso.
It was early in camp last summer when Biegel ruptured an Achilles tendon, instantly ending his 2020 season.
“Last year was definitely a challenging year for me," he said. "That was the first time in my career I wasn't playing football in the fall. I used that idle time to take advantage of a lot a lot of different things. And it wasn't so much football stuff. It was getting closer to my wife, it was building that relationship with my 1-year-old daughter. It was understanding my finances better. It was growing as a man. And those are the things that I believe are gonna make me a better football player."
Who knows what kind of role Biegel would have had last season, particularly after the additions of Van Noy and Lawson in free agency and with the emergence of fellow University of Wisconsin alum Andrew Van Ginkel, but let's not forget that it was Biegel who led the team in quarterback hits in 2019 with 13 — four more than anybody else on the team.
“I was so happy for (Andrew) Van Ginkel last year having the year he did. I was truthfully happily, happy for him, that honest pure joy of me feeling happy for Gink me feeling happy for the defense, (defensive coordinator) Josh Boyer dialing it up and being aggressive. I loved it. I absolutely loved it and the one thing I didn't love was I wasn't out there.
"I think what it built in me is the appreciation for the game, and truly how special and how fragile it is. You’re one play away from not being in the NFL anymore. And that's what I learned to my injury is, you're one play away from being out of league and it's taking advantage of and enjoying every single play, every series, every game along that journey.”
Biegel made it a point to give a shout-out to former Saints teammate Benjamin Watson for helping him through the rehab process after the Achilles injury.
"One of the guys I really looked up to the league was Benjamin Watson during my time in New Orleans, and Ben had an Achilles injury," Biegel explained. "I've actually reached out to Ben multiple times during my Achilles process, and he's just had so many great nuggets and so much great advice to me during this process. And I'm thankful for him to kind of enlighten me and help kind of strengthen me and keep my mind focused and level-headed, not too high, not too low in this recovery process. “
Now it's full steam ahead for Biegel, whose role on the 2021 team is yet to be determined.
In a best-case scenario for him, he battles for and wins a starting job. At the very least, he should get playing time on a defense that will look to duplicate its success of 2020, if not better it.
There's no question he's looking forward to getting back out there with his teammates, and his return could provide an additional boost for the Dolphins as well.