Miami Dolphins defense finally coming into form

Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio
watches the defense during the scrimmage at Hard
Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio watches the defense during the scrimmage at Hard / JEFF ROMANCE/THE PALM BEACH POST / USA

With six games to go, four of those at home, the Miami Dolphins appear headed in the right directions when it comes to the franchise’s first AFC East title since 2008.

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and wide receiver Tyreek Hill have been mentioned in the too-early-to forecast MVP race. The ground game is much improved and a healthy De’Von Achane makes it even better.

Of course, you have to stop the other team. There have been too many instances this year where the Dolphins haven’t answered the bell. They were carved up by the Chargers in Week 1, albeit the team found a way to win. They were pushed around by the Bills and came up woefully short in a Sunday night loss to the Eagles.

There’s any number of ways to break down a defensive unit that has had its ups and downs, especially against some of the better offensive units around the league. However, as of late, Vic Fangio’s unit has been far more consistent.

Go back to the 31-17 prime time loss at Philadelphia. Miami defenders gave up four offensive touchdowns (2 rushing, 2 receiving) and 355 total yards. In their last four games, the AFC East leaders have allowed a total of six offensive TDs and held each opponent under 300 yards of total offense. In fact, Miami’s sometimes sloppy offensive unit has actually given up a pair of touchdowns via a Hill lost fumble and a Tua Tagovailoa pick-six.

The recent surge has Mike McDaniel’s team ranked seventh in the league overall in total defense, with only a half-dozen clubs in the league giving up fewer yards per game on the ground. Losing Jalen Phillips, tied for the team lead with 6.5 sacks, for the remainder of the season is a huge blow. However, performers such as safety Jevon Holland (team-best 69 tackles), an emerging linebacking corps and the addition of cornerback Jalen Ramsey (team-high 3 interceptions) have been solid.

Including Phillips, six players have totaled at least four sacks, including Christian Wilkins (6.5), Bradley Chubb (6.0) and Zach Sieler (5.0). The Dolphins’ defense has picked an ideal time to be playing its best football of 2023. It should be a long day for the Washington Commanders on Sunday.