Miami Dolphins situational defense must improve to get “real” wins

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - AUGUST 21: Josh Boyer of the Miami Dolphins looks on during a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons at Hard Rock Stadium on August 21, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - AUGUST 21: Josh Boyer of the Miami Dolphins looks on during a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons at Hard Rock Stadium on August 21, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

We’ve seen it for weeks now. The opposing team’s offense is on the field in a situation where everyone and their grandmother knows what’s probably going to come, and the defense of the Miami Dolphins puts forth an approach that backfires instantly and that team’s offense succeeds when they shouldn’t have.

This is called situational football. It’s when there is a situation in a game whether it’s late in the game or just a general time of the game where tension is rising and it’s a big moment that can sort of swing the game. I realize that definition is a bit vague but it’s one of those things that if you don’t what it is then I don’t know if I or anyone else can explain it to you.

Pivotal moments where the defense has to rise up and make a play is where the Dolphin’s defense is getting completely worked, especially as of late, is what is holding this defense back.

Look, I understand that the secondary has been banged up all year. I fully acknowledge that the Miami Dolphins are trotting out special teams level players to defend high octane offenses. I appreciate the uphill battle that it is to succeed with those caliber of players.

But I also think that Josh Boyer has dropped the ball in instances where a rudimentary strategy would have had a better chance of yielding a better result(that was big time scholarly sentence right there).

Overall, the Miami Dolphin’s defense ranks 6th worse n opposing offenses converting 3rd downs. We see every week offenses just hold on to the ball for what feels like eons. Some of that is because the offense is only on the field for a few nanoseconds, but some of it is because the defense puts themselves in 3rd and short multiple times a possession. As you can imagine, the Miami Dolphins rank 4th worst in time of possession.

I don’t know and can’t find a stat stating what the average length of 3rd downs the Miami Dolphin’s defense faces, but it feels like the defense is always up against a 3rd and 3 or less. I attribute a lot of that to the Dolphins giving up 5+ plus yards on 2nd down.

Those drives that never end until the other team scores is highly draining and frustrating. But I don’t if it’s worse than how the defense performs in big spots.

We saw in the Chargers the game, the unbelievably terrible idea of playing a prevent defense on 3rd and goal from the Dolphin’s 17 yard line. We all knew what was coming and the Chargers executed it very easily which in turn gave them the green light to go for it from the one to end the first half. Those 4 points mattered.

Then there was the 3rd and 17 from the Bills in the first half. I know this play didn’t make or break the game. But, stopping the Bills on that drive and getting the ball back would have been terrific instead of continuing the drive which led to points.

It was a great throw by Josh Allen. But it was a predicable route against cover-3 that Gabe Davis ran. What could have ran instead of defensive concept? On plays like that, how about instructing the linebackers to get more depth? If the ball gets checked down, I feel much better that the defense rallies to make the tackle instead of having to move laterally, especially against Allen, to get in a passing lane.

I really don’t know what to say about the last play of the 1st half where Josh Allen put on his cape and make a fantastic, back-breaking level play to James Cook.

The defense covered everything and forced Allen to one side of the field. We did see Allen make the same kind of play a few weeks ago against the Patriots. Obviously, he’s very comfortable in that spot.

Those are some micro examples of poor situational football. But, there’s also times where Boyer is running the cover-0 blitz, which by the way isn’t working at all and may need to be scrapped due to the lack of quality secondary players, and the defense is playing back. What’s the point of blitzing if you’re cool with allowing a 5 yard catch?

Real winning, as I put in the headline, is playoff, beating the real teams, type of winning is what I’m talking about. If the Dolphins plan on doing real winning, then the defense in those tense moments of games, needs to step up and get the job done. Continuing to give me zero faith in them stopping 3rd and 17 will result in at best a first round exit.

Overall, Boyer is doing an alrightish job. His adjustments in the 2nd half of games, over the last few weeks, have worked. With all the injuries, life is hard but that’s the nature of the NFL. The front office decided not to put a lot of money into any kind of depth in the secondary so this is what happens when you lose a few guys. I don’t know if this will save Boyer’s job next year. My guess would be McDaniel will look to upgrade knowing that offense is to good to waste.

With three games left, the Miami Dolphins have everything still right in front of him. Cut back on some of the obvious defensive mistakes and this team can be a force heading into the playoffs.

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