Dolphins Matt Burke has a lot of new toys for his defense
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins are hoping that Matt Burke can take his defense to the next level in 2018 and they have given him a lot of new shiny toys to work with.
Earlier this week we looked at how the Dolphins offense will look a lot different in 2018 than it did in 2017. Now it’s the defenses turn. You can read the offensive look at the bottom of this article.
Miami has made a lot of off-season changes to both sides of the ball and like the offense, one major player was sent packing this off-season. Ndamukong Suh.
How will the Dolphins replace their best defensive player? They can’t directly but in the three seasons that Suh was with the Dolphins they finished with one play-off appearance and two 6-10 seasons. Before you point to the offense consider that the defense ranked near last in stopping the run in all three of those seasons and at their best were still inconsistent with Suh. This is a debate that has been raging since March.
Here is a look at the changes and that which remains the same heading into the mini-camp and OTA season.
2017 – Suh, Vincent Taylor, Davon Godchaux, Jordan Phillips, Gabe Wright
2018 – Akeem Spence, Taylor, Godchaux, Phillips, Wright
Let’s not pretend that Spence is going to make this defensive front better than it was with Suh. You can’t compare the two to each other. Instead let’s look at how Spence may interact and mingle with his new teammates. Suh was often standoffish and was not very approachable in the locker room. Spence isn’t going to jump in and take over a leadership role but he and the other defensive lineman should find a much easier chemistry. Something they were trying to build with Suh but couldn’t.
The Dolphins defensive front will rotate and that is really something they could not do with Suh who rarely came off the field. It will keep the defensive tackles fresh and allow the Dolphins to play more stunts and scheme fit to opposing offenses.
It is hard to predict how well this unit will be compared to last season. On paper without Suh they should be worse but in reality they should at least be as good or as bad as they were with Suh and frankly they will probably be better which really wouldn’t take much.