Miami Dolphins' Defense is Struggling of Late

By Craig Ballard
Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

The 2012 Miami Dolphins were off to a promising start to their season. Things have declined on offense and defense. This article is a look at the regressing production from the defense (the article on the regressing offense is HERE)

All aspects of the D have taken steps backwards as the season has progressed. The past two weeks Miami has allowed the fewest total yards of their season, but the good news ends there. Despite holding their past two opponents under 300 total yards the ‘Phins are 0-2 in those games.

We will start with the run-D. Randy Starks and Paul Soliai were off to terrific starts, and were leading the way for the run defense. For the first five weeks the Dolphins were yielding just 61 yards on the ground. Extremely impressive. Starks and Soliai are no exception when it comes to defenders whose play has seen a dip recently. They have each graded negatively numerous time in the past five games, and as a result teams are up to 131 rush yards per game in the past five weeks (more than twice as bad as the level Miami was playing at).

The declining run-D has meant that opponents are more successful on 1st down, which leads to better 3rd down scenarios for them. The Dolphins are feast or famine when it comes to their 3rd down defense. In their four wins they are allowing opponents to convert a measly 19% of 3rd downs (outstanding). In their six losses their opponents are converting 41% of their 3rd downs (more than double the difference…yikes).

The pass rush has been iffy and inconsistent. Miami has good sacks stats as a team, but only Cameron Wake has been particularly good at applying pressure to opposing QBs (in particular on 3rd down). The lack of pressure on the QB is allowing the opposition to be successful through the air. Miami allows 266 pass yards per game (28th in NFL).

Turnovers have dried up for the 2012 Dolphins. New defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle spent nine seasons running the Cincinnati Bengals secondary. In that time-span only five teams recorded more INTs than Coyle’s guys. Miami was creating turnovers to start the season, but like everything else on this defense we have seen great decline here as well.

In week 8 Chris Clemons picked off Mark Sanchez. Would you believe that is Miami’s only INT in the past five weeks (yikes). The offense is struggling and the D has not created any short fields/easier scenarios for the O. Miami has just one fumble recovery on defense in the past five weeks too (yikes).

The secondary has seen it’s share of changes, and injuries. Sean Smith is in a contract year, but he is one of several Dolphins who has seen his play slip dramatically. His technique has deteriorated massively. He grades as the #42 CB in the NFL, while Nolan Carroll grades at #45.

Miami is yielding more rush yards lately, and have struggled with allowing pass yards for a while. They are not creating turnovers either. All of this adds up, and the end result is becoming unacceptable for ‘Phins phans. The “Fireland” talk about GM Jeff Ireland is back in full force.

The D has to be the lead dog on this team. In Miami’s four wins they have allowed just 12 points per game, but in their six losses that more than doubles (26 points per game yielded in losses).

An offense in steady decline…A defense in steady decline…Easy to see why Miami has plummeted from the #5 seed in the AFC alllll the way to the #11 seed (plus the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders can catch Miami with a win on Sunday).

Thank you for reading my work! I wish it was a happier topic, but I need to call it the way I see it.

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