When your nickname is “The Mayor,” people know to respect you. At least they should.
It’s not by happenstance that Joe Dineen has that moniker. The undrafted linebacker from the University of Kansas plays with that mindset anytime he steps on the gridiron. It’s the approach he takes to prepare on the practice field, meetings or weight room. Since Dineen went undrafted, you can bet that attitude is how he’ll try to earn his spot on the Denver Broncos roster.
“I think there’s one way to play football — as hard as you can no matter what the score is,” Dineen told 1st & 10 @ 10 in May, adding that his parents instilled a “don’t quit” mentality in him at a young age. “That’s how I do everything. The score wasn’t going to change my effort.”
Joe Dineen profile
Weight: 235 pounds
Experience: Rookie, Kansas
Dineen has the attitude that John Elway and the Broncos love in players — a chip on his shoulder. He’s one of those guys who will bust his ass and do whatever it takes to make the roster and get on the field.
Guys who do it the right way.
Dineen is one of those players who would do it that way regardless, but the fact he didn’t get invited to the NFL Combine or get drafted, has a similar feel to a recent player Denver signed as a college free agent — Phillip Lindsay. That’s not to say Dineen will have a season in the Broncos defense like Lindsay had, but remember how determined Lindsay was to prove people wrong.
Dineen strikes me as very similar in that regard.
The other benefit is the coaching he’ll get from Vic Fangio, defensive coordinator Ed Donatell and linebackers coach Reggie Herring. You could also throw in special teams coordinator Tom McMahon since that’s the most likely way Dineen sees the field in 2019. What’s become clear over the course of organized team activities and minicamp is the players will get put in the best position to have success. They’ll see what they did right and wrong, and how to correct the latter. The system will finally bend to the players’ strengths, as opposed to the opposite we saw the last few seasons.
That means it’s on the player.
As with any undrafted free agent, Dineen has an uphill battle to get on the roster. He will have to earn his spot on the field to get the reps he’ll require to get noticed. The best way to stand out is on special teams.
One of the biggest areas he must improve upon is coverage, and even he admits that.
“To get to where I’m really confident out there, there are always tricks I can learn,” he said in the same interview with 1st & 10 @ 10. “And honestly, just learning the defense, I think I’ll be OK. Got to get on all four special teams and work really hard there and make it hard for coaches to not leave me on the team.”
Donatell had this to say about Dineen at rookie minicamp:
“When you bring in linebackers or safeties, it’s really hard to make a prediction on them or evaluation because so much of it is run and pass and when the pads come on. Our goal right now as a coaching staff is to get them in the right alignments and get them familiar with our language and get them communicated. You really can’t tell much about a linebacker until you put the pads on.”
Dineen roster status
As mentioned earlier, Dineen has an uphill battle to get on the Broncos’ roster. But there is little doubt he will have the approach that’s needed to make it see life.
After all, you don’t earn the nickname “The Mayor” by luck.