When the NFL season kicked off a few weeks back, many people believed that the Miami Dolphins defense would end up being the team’s main forte. Despite being one of the better defenses in the league over the past few years, the Dolphins defensive unit has not lived up to expectations.
Although the Dolphins run defense has slipped a bit since last season, they still remain a top 15 unit. This season the Dolphins main issue on defense seems to be defending the pass. Over the past offseason, the Miami Dolphins had the option of resigning starting cornerback, Sean Smith. Although many questioned his ability as a starter when he played for the Dolphins, Smith has been a beast this year and is playing a vital part on the defense of the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. According to Pro Football Focus, Smith has been graded at a 7.7 so far, which is good for the 5th best grade at the corner position.
The Dolphins decided to replace Smith with long time Falcons cornerback, Brent Grimes. Grimes, who is in his seventh year in the league has been a pretty good replacement to Smith. Grimes has really brought a veteran attitude to this Dolphins team and has made big plays when needed. Just a few weeks ago, Pro Football Focus had Brent Grimes rated as one of the better cornerbacks in the league.
In order to sure up the secondary, the Dolphins gave Pro Bowl safety, Reshad Jones a four year contract extension. They also went out and drafted two cornerbacks; Jamar Taylor and Will Davis. Jones, who tore it up last season has so far underachieved, while rookie Jamar Taylor has been battling through injuries over the past few months.
Another huge blow to this secondary was the injury of starting cornerback, Dmitri Patterson. Patterson had a break out game week one against the Cleveland Browns, intercepting two passes. Patterson has since been sidelined with a groin injury.
With everything that could possible go wrong going wrong, the Dolphins have seen a dramatic decrease in their passing defense. Through the first five games of the season, the Dolphins rank near the bottom of the list in terms of pass defense; coming in at 27th. In their defense, the Dolphins have had to play Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Joe Flacco in consecutive weeks.
Dolphin’s defensive coordinator, Kevin Coyle, has shown his frustration with the team’s defensive performance. Recently, Coyle said, “we’re not satisfied with the way we’ve played through five games.” “Collectively we haven’t had a game where we’ve come out and just flat played from start to finish what we’re capable of.”
Coming off of the bye, the Dolphins secondary had a great opportunity to regain some health. Patterson, who has been out for a month returned to practice and the chances of him playing this Sunday are pretty good. Barring another setback, Patterson will be able to come in and give the secondary a much needed lift. Another good thing to build off of is the fact that safety Reshad Jones had a pick six in the Phins last game against the Ravens.
The Dolphins are set to take on the Buffalo Bills this week. The Bills have two featured backs in C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. It is no secret that the Bills like to run the ball. One of the biggest problems they have is the instability at the quarterback position. Rookie quarterback, E.J. Manuel, is currently out with a sprained knee. His replacement, Thad Lewis sprained his foot last week and is unsure if he will be ready to go this Sunday. To add some more security, the Bills signed journeyman, Matt Flynn. If the Dolphins can effectively defend the run, then they will have an excellent opportunity to get back in a rhythm against either Lewis or Flynn, who both lack starting experience in the NFL.
This week is a statement game for the Miami Dolphins secondary. It is imperative that they come out with the mindset that they can stop the Bills mediocre passing attack. I hate to say that this is a must win game for the Dolphins, but losing three straight games would be a seriously blow to the team. The passing defense must step up their game. This is a great week for them to gain back some of the confidence that they played with in week one.
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