Proving stout against but ho-hum against the pass in recent years isn’t cutting it for the Miami Dolphins any longer, as their offseason haul on the defensive side has proven. Out are well-rounded veteran linebackers Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, in our the younger, more blitz-efficient Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler.
Both of these players will allow the Dolphins to both attack the passer with more vigor and while offering wider range in coverage, giving the Fins’ defensive scheme some more flexibility from line-of-scrimmage to secondary.
“We’ve got versatile coverages,” defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said, via the Sun-Sentinel. “We’ve got a number of zones that we can play. We like our ability to play man-to-man with the corners we have now. We don’t go into it saying we are going to be 70 percent this, 30 percent that. You have to go with the flow as the season progresses.”
“You see what you guys are doing well, and everything seems to come together and tie together,” added one of Wheeler’s new teammates and fellow free-agent signings, Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes. “We’ll be multiple in a lot of things we do, both in coverages, man coverages, zone coverages, man pressures, zone pressures, things of that nature.”
As these stats from Pro Football Focus show, Ellerbe and Wheeler allowed fewer yards per completion and scored a higher pass-rush productivity than their predecessors. This lands in line with the ethos of aggressive defenses that get after the quarterback while possessing the speed and flexiblity to avoid getting burned for it too often.
Wheeler arrives from the Oakland Raiders as the perfect complement to this approach at weakside linebacker. He may allow a fair amount of receptions into his coverage, but is excellent and clamping down quickly and even blitzing some..