3 areas the Miami Dolphins defense must improve in 2024

There is a new defensive coordinator on the Miami Dolphins coaching staff and he has some work to do.
Baltimore Ravens v Houston Texans
Baltimore Ravens v Houston Texans / Bob Levey/GettyImages

Anthony Weaver will have his hands full in 2024, and if you listen to his former coaches in Baltimore, the Miami Dolphins are getting a great addition to their staff. He has to get this team better defensively, and there are areas that need to be improved.

So, will Miami be able to take the next step on that side of the ball? The hope is that will be the case. In order for that to happen, here are three areas for Weaver and Miami to focus on:

3. The Dolphins have to become a dominant football team

Miami's defense has been above average, dating back to Brian Flores' time with the Dolphins. The problem is while they border on being great, they don't scare anyone. They are not a dominating defense. They aren't as finesse as some might believe, but they don't take over a football game and dictate the outcome of a battle.

Over the last several years, the defense has stepped up and made big plays when they needed to. They have won games on an interception or fumble. They have stopped a drive on fourth and inches and they have played a solid "bend but don't break" type of system. What they haven't done is dominate other teams.

Miami needs to be aggressive and not passive. They fall somewhere in the middle right now. Looking at the defensive system in Baltimore, the Ravens are a defensive team built to intimidate and control the game. That is something the Dolphins don't do. Can Weaver bring that change to the Dolphins? That is the hope.

2. The Dolphins need to tackle

There is nothing worse than watching a running back lower his shoulder and drive through a defender, until you see the Dolphins try and tackle. Miami is a gang-tackle type team. Typically that is a good thing, but the Dolphins tend to hold on with first contact and wait for help. In the secondary, it is more about hitting than open-field tackling. The linebackers tend to play the same way. What we don't see is wrapping a ball carrier and driving through them.

In the playoffs last year, Duke Riley's sad attempt to tackle Patrick Mahomes is a prime example of not having that killer drive to take a ball carrier to the ground. The Dolphins love to lower their shoulders and hit instead of wrapping and driving. This is what makes defenses great and what keeps Miami from being great.

1. The Dolphins can't continue to be cute

Bradley Chubb gets to a quarterback on a delayed blitz. The crowds scream and cheer. Jaelan Phillips breaks off the edge and hits Josh Allen, and everyone cheers. Miami is great at disguising the blitz or running an inside stunt or delay. Sometimes, that works, but sometimes, it creates a hole that good quarterbacks can take advantage of. Allen can do more damage against the Dolphins when he breaks out of the pocket and runs the ball than he can with his arm. Miami struggles to stop that. Hitting isn't enough, and getting cute with the scheme isn't cutting it.

Miami has to be more physical, and instead of taking what the offense is giving them, they need to dictate the outcome of a play. Miami's defense does a good job of keeping the plays in front of them, but there are times when they give up too much for no reason. This is seen more clearly when teams are in a 3rd-and-7 situation. The CBs who have played well in man coverage shift to zone and give up five or six air yards and then give up the remaining yards after the catch. This is an area where being aggressive will pay off. Miami needs to force opposing offenses into making mistakes instead of trying to limit the number of yards.

The good news is that Weaver comes from a dominating defensive system that has as much to do with the outcome of a game as the offense. He is a physical-minded coach and will have autonomy with the defense in terms of how he wants to approach it. He is relatable to the players, having been one in the NFL level in the past. Now, he gets another run at being the man in charge.