5 Reasons to be encouraged about the Dolphins’ defense


The Miami Dolphins defense has made some changes this off-season. For the better? Hard to say but there is potential for this unit to be really good.

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Dolfans have reason to be excited about this next season for Miami, particularly because of the defense. There are holes that need to be filled, but when you look at the additions there is great potential. I’m going to highlight five reasons to be excited when you look at the Dolphins defense for the 2016 season.

  1. Mario WilliamsIt’s not too often that you get excited about signing a 31 year old defensive end, but in this circumstance I’m ecstatic. For the first part, having Mario on the Dolphins roster means Ryan Tannehill doesn’t have to get sacked by him at least four times a year. When you look at the Dolphins stats against the Bills since the addition of Mario Williams, you cringe at the beating that Tannehill took. Williams has been a nightmare for Miami’s offensive line and adding him to the roster makes sure they won’t be defending against him next year. Speaking of looking at Mario’s stats, there is something to be encouraged about there as well. Three out of four years in Buffalo, Mario had at least 10 sacks and was on the upswing until last season. The change of scheme from a 3-4 to a 4-3 under Rex Ryan and asking Mario to drop into coverage seems to have played a major role in diminishing his sack numbers to five. That being said, Mario will be back in a 4-3 defense with Miami and will be motivated to regain his name as a dominant defensive end. He is hungry, and that’s the kind of player I want playing for Miami.
  1. Kiko Alonso – Alonso is a low risk, great reward player for Miami. In his first season with the Buffalo Bills, he was selected for the Defensive Rookie of the Year and Dolfans know why. He had 159 Total tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble, and four interceptions. He was a staple of the Bills defense. Then he was traded to the Eagles and tore his ACL. Last season was his first back from his ACL injury and not a great one at that. He had 43 tackles and one interception playing in a rotational basis. What most people don’t know is that it usually takes two years for a player to get back to form after an ACL injury. That means that this year for the Dolphins we might get to see Kiko get back to the form that earned him Defensive Rookie of the Year. He could be the force in the middle of the defense that the Dolphins have been looking for.
  1. Tony LippettTony Lippett is not a household name to most Dolphins fans, but he should be in the next few years. Lippett was a 5th round selection out of  Michigan State last year, and was transitioning away from Wide Receiver to be a full-time Cornerback. With Miami struggling at corner most of the year, Lippett got game time opportunities last year and showed a lot of promise. Although he is not fully refined in his technique, he made the most of his opportunities and showed the possibility of becoming a good corner for Miami. This year could be difficult for him, learning a new system as a press corner, but his size is ideal as a press corner if he can get down the technique. Keep your eyes on Tony this year as Miami looks for a starting cornerback opposite Byron Maxwell.
  1. Ifo Ekpre-OlomuHere is another name that most Dolphin fans are not familiar with but could get really excited about this season. Ifo is another low risk, high reward player. Picked up off waivers after being dropped from the Cleveland Browns, Ifo will be competing to be the starting nickel corner for Miami. Projected as a first round pick in 2015 before a blown out knee dropped him to the seventh round, this former Oregon standout had the potential to be a dominant nickel corner in the NFL. Last year he spent his time rehabbing and recovering from his knee injury. Like I stated earlier, it usually takes players two years to recover from traumatic knee injuries back to their earlier form. This year could be Ifo’s opportunity to show he has fully recovered and is ready to fulfill former expectations of greatness.

Vance Joseph

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Vance Joseph is the last and probably most important addition to the Miami Dolphins this season. This will be his first opportunity as a defensive coordinator. He will be running a press 4-3 defense, using strong physical corners on the outside to jam receivers on the line. This will play well to the strengths of Byron Maxwell who played in a similar system in Seattle. Joseph was previously the defensive backs’ coach for the Cincinnati Bengals. He showed the ability to make the most of older veterans like Adam Jones as well as develop younger corners into playmakers. He wants his players to be aggressive on the line of scrimmage when it comes to his corners as well as his pass rushers. Since the Dolphins need to see growth in their young corners, Joseph could be a great addition and turn this defense into something offenses fear.

I am looking forward to the draft to see who the Dolphins pick to tie this promising defense together.