The Miami Dolphins Number One Concern on Defense

By Craig Ballard

There (unfortunately) are several areas of concern for the 2012 Miami Dolphins defense. A new defensive coordinator (Kevin Coyle). A new base defense will take time to adjust to. A new starting tandem at CB. A front-4 that struggled mightily to apply pressure to the QB in preseason. This was a unit that had too many missed tackles in the preseason too. But…one thing sticks out to me as the biggest concern of all…Interceptions.

This is a Dolphins defense that has struggled for years to create (game-changing) INTs. There simply isn’t enough talent on the team to be able to go toe-to-toe with opponents. They need to create INTs. The preseason produced zero INTs. This is a sure area of concern for Coyle.

Coyle was a defensive-backs coach for the Cincinnati Bengals for a decade. Only 4 teams created more INTs over that span than Coyle’s Bengals. Impressive history, but so far his coaching has not produced any improvements from the DBs.

Head coach Joe Philbin is new so as per NFL rules the ‘Phins were afforded extra hours of practice/film study. Coyle says he has been through the entire playbook with his guys several times with the extra prep-time, so to produce zero preseason INTs is frustrating/concerning.

Cornerbacks Sean Smith, Richard Marshall, and Nolan Carroll are all in for increased playing time/responsibilities and all need to step their INT game waaay up. These three have combined to play in 171 NFL games, yet have produced a total of just 22 INTs. That is 1 INT for every 8 games. Yikes.

A CBs best friend to assist vs the pass is of course the safeties. The ‘Phins safety unit does not bring a lot of INT history to the table either. Chris Clemons, Reshad Jones, Tyrone Culver, and Jimmy Wilson have a combined 159 NFL games, but just a putrid 6 combined INTs. That is 1 INT every 26 games. Y-i-k-e-s.

This is an area where the rest of the AFC East has been superior to the ‘Phins these past few years. The New England Patriots yield a ton of yards, but they create a boatload of INTs every year. The Buffalo Bills secondary is an example of INTs being game-changers. The rest of the Bills team is poor, but when the DBs create INTs they are competitive. The New York Jets secondary speaks for itself.

The 2012 schedule could help the ‘Phins here. Week 1 against Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans may not provide many INT opportunities. After that there is a chance for a nice INT run as the next two weeks are against Carson Palmer and the Oakland Raiders, then the mess that is the Jets offense.

There are several issues on this defense, but creating INTs is thee way to help this unit over-achieve and be legit contributors to the 2012 team.

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