NFL: Howard's way forward is to self-analyse so-so season

20 November 2021 01:18:32 GMTPlus11
Xavien Howard targeting further improvement

Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard says his play this season hasn't been up to his usual standard, despite earning the NFL's defensive player of the week award for his part in the Fins' win over the Baltimore Ravens last Thursday.

Howard and Miami, who are 20/37 on the Money Line, face fellow AFC East strugglers the New York Jets, a 33/20 chance to win, at MetLife Stadium this Sunday.

New deal for Howard

The 28-year-old gave an honest appraisal of his performances in 2021 that followed an offseason contract dispute that was resolved in August when the Dolphins restructured his existing deal.

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As part of Howard's new contract, the CB had $1 million in Pro Bowl incentives and $2.5 million in additional incentives added to his 2021 year, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

That enables him to make more than any other player in his position this year, but his Pro Bowl selection looks anything but guaranteed ten weeks into the season.

"Not up to my standard a couple games," was Howard's self-assessment. "Just worried about getting better each week and getting back to the things I used to do."

Howard stepped up in 2020

A defensive player of the year candidate last season, Howard recorded 10 interceptions and allowed just four touchdowns in 16 regular season games.

He's had only two interceptions and has allowed six touchdowns in nine games this year, although his forced fumble and subsequent recovery for a 49-yard touchdown against the Ravens was a big step in the right direction.

"Understanding what teams are doing to me now," Howard replied when asked what he can do about it. "Just knowing that the things I did last year are not going to be that easy. Everything I'm going to have to work for. Understanding that and knowing how teams are attacking me now."

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