Andrew Luck exploited the Miami Dolphins on Sunday as he passed for a rookie record 433 yards in a 23-20 loss for Miami. In another “should have won” type game for the Dolphins, the defensive backs continually put themselves in bad situations. They were the Dolphin’s Achille’s heel against the Colts as they have been all season.
Sean Smith had a number of chances to intercept Luck, but showed his old self as he either couldn’t locate the ball or he simply dropped easy interceptions. One particular drop by Smith in the 4th quarter was probably the biggest play of the game for either side. Smith fell to the ground after intercepting Luck, but tried to stand up and lost the ball which resulted in an incomplete pass.
Smith would have given the Dolphins great field position deep in Indianapolis territory late in the 4th quarter, but instead only forced Indianapolis to punt. This turn of events forced Miami to string together a long drive with only minutes remaining which they were unable to do. If Smith catches that interception, the Dolphins at least force overtime.
Another area of concern for the secondary was how many successful 3rd downs Miami allowed against the Colts on Sunday. Miami has been a league leader all year for 3rd down conversions, but didn’t look like it on Sunday. The Dolphin’s defensive backs repeatedly played too far off of the Indy receivers Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton. Luck found Wayne and Hilton continuously to keep drives alive.
It seemed as if Miami and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle was playing a bend don’t break defense against Luck and the Colts. Unfortunately for Coyle, the repeated bending in the secondary eventually broke the Dolphins in a close, hard fought game. Coyle cannot continue to use this strategy in the second half of the season if he expects to beat pass happy division rival New England.
The AFC East could likely come down to Miami’s two divisional games against the Patriots. Winning those two games would seem unlikely if the Dolphins give up 400 plus yards to a rookie QB, one can only imagine what Tom Brady could do to them. The Dolphins are at 4-4 and still in the thick of the playoff race. Miami could be in a much better spot though if their pass defense would just show up with the rest of the team.
Another example of the Dolphin’s sub-par pass defense was the Arizona Cardinals game. Miami would have won if the secondary could have stepped up on a 4th a 10 to seal the game, but again played too far off the receiver which gave the Cardinals an easy comeback route for a touchdown to force overtime. Miami ended up losing that game in overtime.
Miami has improved leaps and bounds and are exceeding expectations, but lack a true pass defense. The offense is solid(not great), our special teams is better than most, and our run defense is top notch. We are a pass defense away from being a team nobody would like to play, period.
When you give up 433 yards to a rookie though, teams will exploit that every Sunday until you stop it. Hopefully for the Dolphins and their playoff hopes, their pass defense figures it out sooner rather than later.