Miami Dolphins Week 6 defensive preview v. Chicago Bears
By Shawn Digity
The Miami Dolphins are now 3-2 after two losses in a row. The Fins will look to find some offensive answers and to continue growing on defense as they chase a fourth victory against the Chicago Bears.
Last week’s effort against the Bengals was lopsided, at the very least. I thoroughly enjoyed most of the defensive performance and thought they played very well. I hope the young guns that stepped up last week can maintain that momentum and the usual stalwarts can also play their roles.
What does the injury report bring on the defensive side of the ball this week? Well, Cam Wake has been listed as doubtful, so his playing status on Sunday is unlikely after not participating in any of this week’s practices.
Reshad Jones, who returned to the playing field last week against the Bengals, was listed on the report with the shoulder injury still, but he was a full participant and should be the same dynamo this Sunday as he usually is. Robert Quinn was also on the report, but it was for non-injury related reasons, so this is a non-issue.
It sounds as though, and this is if I’m reading the tea leaves correctly, Bobby McCain will return this week after the knee injury against the Patriots that sidelined him for two weeks. He was listed with limited participation for Friday’s practice and a Questionable status, but he will likely see some playing time.
T.J. McDonald was also on the report but was a full participant for Thursday and Friday’s practices; he should still be on the field. Andre Branch and Chase Allen wrap up the defensive side of the injury report. They’re both listed as Questionable but also had full practices on Friday. These two are truly questionable for their status on Sunday.
Now how will the defense look against the Bears’ offense? The Bears have the talent on offense to beat the Dolphins, but it has also become clear that the Fins’ defense is their strength this year. They played extremely well last week against the Bengals but were handed too much responsibility as the offense failed to help them stay off the field.
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The Dolphins defensive line could be in for a tough battle against a solid Bears’ o-line. It features big names such as Pro-bowler Kyle Long at right guard and Cody Whitehair at center. I was intrigued enough by Charles Harris to be excited to see what he can bring against this Bears’ line if he plays in Wake’s place again. I might as well just copy and paste what I say about Robert Quinn in this article every week; he’s an athletic freak with crazy bendability and has been one of the most consistent Dolphins. He doesn’t have the misleading sacks-stat number to show it, but he can generate a lot of pressure and QB hurries.
The interior defensive line has also shown that it didn’t need Jordan Phillips. Vincent Taylor is playing well and still has room to improve Davon Godchaux are less flashy than Taylor right now, but they are driving forces in their own right and Godchaux, specifically, is able to play just as well as Taylor.
The starting linebackers are finally starting to get in sync. I’ve talked about Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker turning the corner, and I think the Bengals game showed that the game is starting to slow down for them. Baker was great. He played well in coverage and was also good in the roles that allowed him to apply pressure; he got two sacks which always looks good. McMillan was also dynamic. He had 6 combined tackles, one of which was for a loss. He looked more reactive and comfortable. I’m excited to see how these two continue to develop.
Kiko Alonso didn’t have double-digit tackles against the Bengals. If that’s the only complaint against Alonso so far, then I think we’re in good shape with him as the weakside starter. Oh, he also pulled down another interception off a Reshad Jones‘ tip. That’s crucial because Miami’s positive turnover ratio is the only reason they’re sitting at 3-2.
Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen are a unique running back combo and I could see them giving the Dolphins fits. The Dolphins defense is ranked 20th in the league according to Pro Football Reference for rushing yards per game, but that number could improve if the offense can provide more breathing room for the defensive players.
The Bears wide receivers are not overly concerning. Allen Robinson is the big-ticket name and should be held in check as long as Xavien Howard is covering him. If Robinson is moved into the slot periodically, like A.J. Green last week, then Minkah Fitzpatrick will have to take over. Green nickeled and dimed for 112 yards last week, but I feel better about Fitzpatrick with each week of experience he gets under his belt.
The other cornerback position is problematic. I would declare it as one of the early 2019 Draft positions of need; Torry McTyer and Cordrea Tankersley are not the guys.
Reshad Jones will be back again and nothing else needs to be said about that. He’s the glue of the defense and his absence was felt in the games he missed. This is a team that needs the defense to keep playing well if it wants to keep finding any success, so having your cornerstone players is a must.