Dolphins Defensive “Rotation” A Joke
By Brian Miller
Nov 11, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Bobby Rainey (43) runs with the ball against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Miami Dolphins 22-19. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Dolphins were, let me make this quite bold here, WERE, supposed to be a top ten defense. Along the line they were supposed to be a top five rushing defense. They are not. Sadly they are a punchline. The Dolphins defense is porous and continually gets gashed. Not by top RB’s mind you…by back-ups to the back-ups. Where does the blame fall for that? Sadly, it has to be on this ridiculous joke, the rotation.
I’m still waiting for an explanation from the coaching staff that explains why on the final go-ahead drive by the Buccaneers was Cameron Wake on the sideline? It’s happened before. The last time it happened the Dolphins gave up a score on that drive as well late in the game. When coach Philbin was asked about it he said the rotation fell that way.
The Miami Dolphins defense that is run by Kevin Coyle who I actually like as a coach has one major flaw and it’s that rotation. Designed to keep players fresh the rotation shouldn’t be an end all but a guide. It should be used for three quarters or even until the last five minutes of each half if that is what you want but when a game is on the line or when a team gets closer to scoring position, yank them out and get your starters back in.
In other words when the game is on the line there is zero reason for Derrick Shelby to be lining up in place of Cameron Wake.
The other issue that provides us proof that it apparently doesn’t work is that the Dolphins defense is still wasted at the end of the game. Why? Is conditioning that bad that the Dolphins defense can’t play into the fourth quarter when they are being swapped out every other series or every second series? Makes no sense and further makes questioning the coaching philosophy more acceptable.
The Dolphins have talent and perhaps that is the third line of this issue. Do they have too much talent? It seems the Dolphins intend to get everyone onto the field. Olivier Vernon, Randy Starks, Paul Soliai, Dion Jordan, Koa Misi, Cameron Wake, Shelby, Jared Odrick. That’s eight players on the defensive front of alone that is mixing it up in this “rotation”. Where is there time for these players to get a rhythm? How can they get better as the game goes on while getting used to the Oline tendencies or the QB cadence when they are on and off the field?
The Dolphins want you to believe it’s situational and at times it absolutely is but not all the time. You can’t expect to pull Dion Jordan off the sideline and say, “go get a sack” when he has been standing on the sidelines for two series or in for one play and out the next. How can anyone get used to the speed of the NFL. Making matters worse is the fact that Jordan when in the game plays very fast and has a great push to the QB. He needs to get more reps but alas the coaches have said he will, for the rest of the season, be held out for most of the defensive series. A 3rd overall pick is being used almost exclusively on special teams.
Jordan is said to be a liability against the run but everyone else seems to be as well. The Dolphins are ranked 25th against the rush this year. TWENTY-FIFTH!
When you look at the rushing per game by player it’s not overwhelmingly bad. Ahmad Bradshaw for 65, Jacquizz Rodgers for 86, Ray Rice for 74, Stevan Ridley for 79, Gio Bernard for 79, and last weeks 4th string RB Brian Leonard for 57. All the players were kept under 100 yards rushing. But that would be so far from the real story.
When you turn the table around and look at the team stats the picture becomes much more ominous. Indianapolis rushed for 133, Atlanta for 146, Baltimore for 133, Buffalo for 90, New England for 152, Cincinnati for 163, and Tampa for 140. That means that a lot of yards are coming from other members of the teams roster and most of those yards are all from running backs. It’s ugly.
For whatever reason unknown to us and apparently not discussable with the media, the rotation is flawed to say the least. I have a hard time pinning this on a lack of talent when we all know that Paul Soliai can play. Dion Jordan shows signs of being very strong in the passing game while Cam Wake is an All-Pro as is Randy Starks. So why are they not on the field…all the time? There are only three reasons…that are logical.
1: They are banged up. If that were the case we not only would know about it but they wouldn’t return a series later or two later.
2: The coaches have no idea on how to use them or they are trying to keep the players fresh but again if that is the case they are not allowing their top players to be in the game when it matters the most.
3: The players simply are not conditioned enough to play most of the four quarters.
Regardless of the reason it’s obvious that the coaching system is flawed and unfortunately there is very good talent being wasted in South Florida.