BOCA RATON, Fla. -- What do Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks and Chip Kelly of the San Francisco 49ers have in common? They both coached new Miami Dolphins No. 1 cornerback Byron Maxwell within the past two seasons.
Maxwell thrived under Carroll's tutelage in Seattle. Maxwell was a former sixth-round pick who began working his way into the starting lineup in his third season. By Year 4 he was a full-time starter alongside Seahawks stars Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in the secondary.
"I think he’s a terrific football player, and he played great football for us," Carroll said Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings. "In the formula we asked him to play, he was very effective. I don’t know what happened in Philly last year. But the fact that he went to Miami, I think he’s thrilled about it. I think he lives down there or wants to live down there year around. So it worked out well for him. We’re happy for him.
"He’s an on the line of scrimmage guy. I think he needs to be played that way, supported that way and coached that way. That’s how he was raised, and he’s got the right mentality for it. He’s got a very aggressive nature. He’s a physical player. He’s long and has the kind of length that allows him to play with his hands on guys. I think he needs to be supported that way. When you coach him that way, he can be as good as anybody in the game."
Maxwell left Seattle in 2015 and signed a six-year, $63 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. Things quickly went downhill for Maxwell as he struggled with a new team and new scheme. The Eagles asked Maxwell to play off the line more, and he was inconsistent in coverage.
"I think he’s a big, physical corner. He does a great job when he gets his hands on people, and he’s kind of what a prototypical corner is like," said Kelly, who was fired by the Eagles this offseason. "He matches up well with big receivers. He’s really good in taking them away at the line of scrimmage. ... (Dolphins defensive coordinator) Vance (Joseph) is really experienced in doing those things, and I think he will do a really good job."
The Dolphins are counting on Maxwell to return to the form had in Seattle. Miami hopes he fills the role as the team's top cornerback after Pro Bowler Brent Grimes was released and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.