- WR Hartline cut after 6 seasons WR Gibson was also released
- Mike Tannenbaum hired... ...as Dolphins' executive VP of football operations
- Philbin retained Coach Philbin was given a contract extension
- Fins season ends on low note Jets down the Fins to end their season 8-8
Forget the offense. Miami’s fate depends on the defense.
After a better than expected 3-0 start to the season, the Dolphins have stumbled through two consecutive ugly losses. I’ve heard a lot of Dolfans wail about the failures of every phase of the offense with the offensive line getting what seems like the most criticism. Meanwhile the defensive failures, while mentioned somewhat, seem like an afterthought.
I’m particularly surprised about the focus on the offensive line because in the offseason I saw a lot of discussion about how the offensive line was going to be average at best, if not bad. There were question marks about losing Jake Long and replacing him with Jonathan Martin.
There were concerns about Louis/Jerry being the right guard. Free agent acquisition Tyson Clabo at least seemed like he would be an adequate fill in at right tackle, but apparently Atlanta did a better job of recognizing his better days were behind him than Miami was.
There’s been a lot of focus on the passing game,from the number of sacks surrendered, failure to fully utilize Mike Wallace, to the play calling. Tannehill’s completion rate is 62.6, 13th in the league. QBR is 85.5, 14th in the league.
The rushing game has been a bigger disappointment – 28th in the league. Most significantly, Miami is in the middle of the pack in scoring at 16 points/game. Is that any more impressive when you weigh in they’ve faced the following scoring defenses: Saints (4th), Colts (5th), Browns (9th), Ravens (14th), Falcons (21st)?
With all the change on the offense coupled with a still relatively young QB, I for one expected issues and for the team to struggle. Truth be told, I think the offense has far exceeded my expectations for the most part. Although I will note I had hoped that Miami would be more dedicated to Lamar Miller and the inconsistent performance is a little maddening.
More importantly, I knew if this team was going to be successful they needed the defense to lead the way and carry the team. The defense was supposed to be the strength of this team based on a deep DL coupled with the #3 pick Dion Jordan, free agent linebackers Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe, and FA CB Brent Grimes coupled with draft picks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis.
Early on during our 3-0 run the defense did exactly that – from terrorizing Browns QB Weeden, getting big plays against the Colts when it mattered, to sealing the win against the Falcons with an INT. But injuries to Soliai, Wake, and Patterson have hampered the unit. While losing to the high flying Saints is understandable, following that up with a loss to a significantly weakened Ravens team causes concern.
So while it’s understandable for Miami’s offense to be middle of the pack statistically, Miami’s defensive ranking is disappointing and needs to be corrected for this team to continue to have a winning record and shot at the playoffs.
- 26th in ypg (393.0)
- 25th in passing ypg
- 18th in ypp (5.6)
- 10th in 3rd down % (36)
- 16th in fumbles
- 11th in INT
- 14th in sacks
- 15th in QBR (83.9)
- 16th in points/game (23.4)
- 18th in rush per carry (4.0)
As Miami enjoys their bye week and begin the reasonable portion of their schedule, I want to remind Dolfans that while the offense is what’s glitzy and exciting, don’t overlook how important the defense is to the continued success of the team. Hopefully Wake and Patterson can return for the important division game against the Bills.
Surprisingly successful rookie QB EJ Manuel is out with an injured knee. Hopefully Miami’s front seven can find a way to terrorize whoever starts for the Bills while also holding the running game in check. A good performance for the defense means better field position and less pressure on Tannehill to carry the team.
After the Bills come the Patriots, who in the next two weeks have to face the Saints in Foxboro and the surprisingly good Jets in NY. Miami could easily be playing for the division lead in game 7. To get there, they need the defense to step up it’s game.
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Latest posts by Michael Miller (see all)
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