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What Melvin Ingram Will Bring to the Dolphins

Breaking down how new Miami Dolphins edge defender can be an asset for the defense in multiple ways

New Miami Dolphins acquisition Melvin Ingram might not be the same dominant force as when he played for the Chargers, but he can still provide the Dolphins with another threat around the edge.

Ingram, who agreed to terms with the Dolphins on Sunday, burst onto the NFL scene during his first nine seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers where he made three straight Pro Bowls from 2017-19 and racked up 49 total sacks. He added two more sacks last season splitting his time between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Some of the best games new Ingram had last season came against teams Miami will play this season. His three highest 2021 PFF grades came against the Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers.

We’ve decided to dive into some of Ingram’s stats to see how he can help the Dolphins against the pass and the run this coming season.

What can Melvin Ingram add to Miami’s pass rush?

Ingram’s calling card his entire career has been his ability to get after the passer. From 2015 to 2019 Ingram recorded at least seven sacks in a season, including two seasons where he had 10.5 sacks.

However, Ingram’s 2021 campaign left something to be desired in the sack category. He finished with just two sacks last year — his lowest mark since the 2013 season.

Sacks are a flawed statistic that don’t tell the full story because Ingram was still an effective pass rusher last season. He finished with a PFF grade of 74.1 for the season, and he tallied 42 total pressures.

Ingram also finished 2021 with a respectable 10 quarterback hits and 29 hurries in just 371 pass rush reps.

While Ingram’s historical and recent production both check the box, the real value he can bring to Miami’s pass rush this season is more difficult to quantify. Ingram is listed at 6-2, 247 pounds, with experience moving around the line of scrimmage.

A lot of Miami’s blitz packages involve multiple players, sometimes as many as five, standing up in different gaps along the line of scrimmage. This causes a ton of confusion for offenses, and it’s one of many reasons the Dolphins defense has been successful under defensive coordinator Josh Boyer.

Ingram is a perfect fit for that style of play. He’s got the lean body frame to shoot interior gaps and has extensive experience rushing the edge. Ingram also is a smart player who understands how to effectively free his teammates on stunts and twists, which is another hallmark of Miami’s defense.

He’s another versatile weapon on a team with a ton of those already, with a proven track record of knowing how to use them.

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Ingram’s run defense will keep him on the field

Run defense isn’t something talked about a lot when it comes to edge defenders, but it matters a lot, and it specifically matters in Miami’s defensive scheme.

It doesn’t matter if Ingram plays as a stand-up rusher or a hand-in-the-dirt rusher, Boyer will expect him to set a hard edge against the run — it’s integral to Miami’s two-gap defense and run fits.

Ingram should be capable of handling that responsibility given his numbers from last season. The veteran finished 2021 with a career-high 83.5 grade against the run, according to PFF. Ingram’s previous best season against the run came in 2016 when he had a PFF grade of 79.5.

Most of Ingram’s best games against the run came after he was traded to the Chiefs last season. He recorded four “stops” – tackles that result in a negative offensive play – against the Broncos and three against the Chargers.

Ingram did well against the run when looking at advanced statistics too. He finished with the second-highest Points Above Replacement against the run for the Chiefs last season, per Sports Info Solutions.

Basically, when Ingram was on the field and the other team ran the football, he was helping his team make winning plays even if it didn’t show up in the box score.

While Ingram undoubtedly improved his own play against the run, he also had the advantage of a small sample size. Just 32 percent of Ingram’s snaps last season came against the run, so some regression should be expected for this season, but if Ingram plays close to how he did last year, it’s plenty good enough.

For the Dolphins, Ingram’s run defense will help justify using him more often. Boyer can feel comfortable leaving Ingram on the field outside of obvious pass-rushing situations. He likely will still be a pass-rush specialist this coming season, but his improved run defense should earn him a few more reps every game. 

Ingram’s intangibles

Not only is Ingram a great on-the-field fit for the Dolphins, he’s also a great fit in their locker room. The Dolphins have a number of young players who could play a similar role to Ingram’s, including Andrew Van Ginkel, Jaelen Phillips and even rookie third-round pick Channing Tindall.

All of those players could benefit from seeing how Ingram practices, how he watches game film, and how he adjusts to offensive linemen on the fly. This shouldn’t be an unfamiliar role for Ingram, who did serve as a team captain while with the Chargers.

Ingram’s leadership responsibility in helping the young pass rushers should mirror offensive tackle Terron Armstead’s role in helping to develop Miami’s young offensive linemen.

Ingram also has some postseason experience the Dolphins’ younger pass rushers can lean on. In seven career postseason games, Ingram has produced 15 solo tackles, five assists, four sacks, one fumble recovery, and one interception.

Ingram knows how to win, and he knows how to play some of his best football when the lights are brightest. Those are things from which every young player on the Dolphins roster can learn.