Five things to immediately improve the Miami Dolphins defense

Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Raekwon Davis (98) pressures Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, October 4, 2020. [ALLEN EYESTONE/The Palm Beach Post]
Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Raekwon Davis (98) pressures Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, October 4, 2020. [ALLEN EYESTONE/The Palm Beach Post] /

The Miami Dolphins defense needs to be tweaked and here are three ways to get them better.

Earlier this week I laid out a plan on how the Miami Dolphins could improve their offense. Today we turn our attention to the defensive side of the ball.

More Raekwon Davis – When Raekwon Davis was drafted in the 2nd round last April, it seemed to reveal the writing on the wall concerning Davon Godchaux. Godchaux is in a contract year and the team needs to decide on whether to resign him or not. All reports out of Miami, which are none, indicate that a Godchaux resigning is not imminent. Godchaux is a steady rotational defensive tackle but really hasn’t shown up so far this season. The Dolphins have been getting gashed in the running game and that starts and stops with the big bodies up front, and that’s what Raekwon Davis is a big body. Davis measures in at 6’7” and 330 pounds. He has four inches and 20 pounds on Davon Godchaux. This type of size could go a long way in helping shore up the Dolphins run defense.

Pass coverage variety – The Dolphins came into 2020 with the tag of being a man to man team in the secondary, and when all the pieces are healthy that is fine. Unfortunately, though a big piece of the secondary, Byron Jones, got hurt early in Game 1 and thus threw a wrench into that plan. The Phins tried to stay with the man to man tag and it cost the team some big plays in the passing game. Rookie Noah Igbinoghene wasn’t up to the task. I will admit, the Dolphins did start to do this in the Jacksonville game and the results have been much better as of late. Byron Jones has been a full participant in practice this week so it looks like the defensive backfield will be at full strength heading into the San Francisco game. Even at full strength though I think the Dolphins need to continue to mix up their coverages between Zone and Man to make the defense harder to game plan against.

Better In-Game Adjustments – When I look back at the Buffalo game, it seems that the Dolphins failed to make significant in-game adjustments, and the ones they did make weren’t very effective. This falls on the coaching staff. The Bills torched the Dolphins all day on crossing patterns where oftentimes our defensive backs were in a trail position. The Dolphins just never seemed to switch things up to try and combat these routes. I get that teams put together gameplans but sometimes those gameplans don’t work. Josh Boyer and Brian Flores need to be better at adjusting on the fly when this scenario comes to fruition.

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Improve the Pass rush – The Dolphins must find a way to create more pressure on the quarterback. The message during the preseason was that this defense would create pressure through schematics. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Again, I must admit that in the last game against Seattle the Dolphins did get to Russell Wilson at times, but it needs to be more consistent. Again when you look at the Buffalo game, which was a very winnable game, by the way, Josh Allen was able to complete those long crossing routes because he was able to stand in the pocket unmolested. A better pass rush could have been the difference in that game. Emmanuel Ogbah and Shaq Lawson were brought in to help, but 3 combined sacks over 4 games aren’t getting it done right now. Edge rusher will be high on the Miami Dolphins priority list in next April’s draft but in the here and now another veteran pass rusher might be what they need. So in the meantime, the Dolphins might want to kick the tires on an old friend, Cameron Wake. Wake is currently a free agent and my guess is he’s in shape and ready to go. I’m willing to bet Wake would sign a very low-risk contract to possibly end his career in Miami and possibly create havoc in the offensive backfield on 8 to 12 plays a game.

Play with a lead – This one actually falls on the offense. Defenses tend to be much more effective when playing with a lead, Atlanta being the exception to this rule. When you look back on the Dolphins only win, it came in a game where the offense came out and spotted the defense a 14 point lead in the first quarter. This totally changed the way they played. Miami registered 4 sacks in that game as Jacksonville’s offense became one dimensional. The Dolphins also controlled the time of possession, outpacing the Jaguars by almost 10 minutes. So if the Dolphins can improve their offense and start consistently scoring touchdowns as opposed to field goals, it would also go a long way in helping to improve the defense.