The Miami Dolphins defense is playing as good if not better than they were last year but is it something that can be sustained? The answer very well may be yes.
What changed with the Dolphins? Through the 7 game losing streak, the Dolphins defense played really good for a series or two and then would give up big plays and drives. They couldn’t hold a lead and while they were never truly the entire problem, they were not close to being the solution either.
For starters, the Dolphins changed the way they were playing football on that side of the ball. A defensive team meeting with Brian Flores ahead of the Ravens game made a huge difference. The Dolphins were once again attacking and dictating the outcome of plays. They were forcing teams to deal with them instead playing a reactionary game. So far, through four games, it has worked.
The change isn’t the reason why the Dolphins are playing so well on defense right now. It also isn’t because of Emmanuel Ogbah or the performances of Jevon Holland and fellow rookie Jaelan Phillips. Sure it helps but it isn’t the only reason. In fact, you can sum up the change very easily.
The Miami Dolphins defense is having fun.
Yes, it is that simple. From Christian Wilkins to Xavien Howard and everyone in between and behind the starters, there is a new attitude. They call it a brotherhood, a family atmosphere that challenges them on and off the field. Great defenses emerge when players get to the point where letting down their teammates is something they can’t tolerate personally. This Dolphins defense is getting to that point.
Miami is holding themselves accountable for mistakes. They are correcting them. They are learning the way each other operates, those individual strengths that other players can play off of. Christian Wilkins, Zach Sieler, Raekwon Davis are all three interchangeable on the defensive line. They are all productive and work as a unit no matter who is taking the snaps with who.
The linebackers are playing off the interior work, filling holes and stuffing gaps. On the edge, Phillips is finding his niche’ and Ogbah is working off of the youngsters burst to help collapse the pocket.
With a secondary filled with Byron Jones and Xavien Howard you would think that the duo would be the secondary leaders but Jevon Holland has earned their trust and continues to get better. He is emerging as the Christian Wilkins of the secondary. A glue that binds them all together in a sense.
The reality is you can’t beat teams that are having fun. When they approach a game as a business, they play as employees. When they play like they just got up on a Saturday morning and hit the mud field with a bunch of other kids in the neighborhood, the atmosphere changes. For the Dolphins, the atmosphere has changed. They are kids playing football and having a lot of fun doing it.