Throughout all of the misery the post Dan Marino era has wrought for fans of the Miami Dolphins, one thing that they could count on was a tough, hard hitting defense. Teams came into South Florida knowing that their quarterback was going to be knocked around, wide receivers were going to be punished, and the running backs would have to earn every yard. Players like Jason Taylor, Zack Thomas, and Sam Madison made it tough for the opposing team to feel confident, even when the offense was led by Cleo Lemon. The Miami defense of 2012 has the talent to continue the tradition, but as of yet, they have struggled getting that talent to come out when it counts.
With 2 preseason complete, the Dolphins defense has given up 659 yards and 43 points, turning the conversation from who will play quarterback, to when will the defense get a stop To be fair, several starters have been out with injuries, including the crown jewel of the the defensive unit, Cameron Wake. Wake sat out Friday against the Carolina Panthers, nursing a sore back, but should be able to play in this week’s exibition against the Atlanta Falcons.
Linebackers, Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett have both been sidelined, and it is unclear when they will be back on the field. This is just as hard on the starting unit as having Wake on the sideline, considering the middle of that defense is what keeps the unit working together. With two starters missing, the lack of communication has been obvious.
Regardless, there are players who have been a part of Miami’s defensive past, and these guys need to turn it up a notch. Guys like Jared Odrick, Paul Soliai, and Koa Misi need to get some pressure on the opposing quarterback, and make tackles when they have the chance. Two sacks and one take away in two games is just not going to do it, and missed tackles have come back to haunt the stating squad on 5 of the 6 times they have taken the field this preseason. This is just unacceptable for a defensive unit that is supposed to be the strength of the Miami Dolphins.
With the pressures facing the offense this season, it absolutely necessary for the defense to come out and get timely takeaways, and consistently stop the opposing offense. We all saw what that did for the Denver Broncos last year. If the defense can keep a game close, then anything can happen in the final 3 minutes.
All of the pieces are there for the Dolphins. All three levels have talented members, capable of making big plays at anytime. The trick is, getting that talent to show up on the field when it really counts.
Any unit can look good in practice, especially when going up against an offense with this many questions, the problem is, it has to transfer over to the field of play. If the Dolphins starting 11 cannot get it together against the visiting Falcons, then chances are it is going to be a long season in South Beach.
Jeff Everette is a featured columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA. You can follow him on twitter @jeverettesports, or subscribe to Jeff Everette-RantSports.com on both Facebook and Google+ for all of his latest articles, opinions, and rants.
More NFL Content From Rant Sports: