Pressure. There isn’t any. If you think about this, the Miami Dolphins defensive line is one of the most expensive units for the team, and it’s underperforming, which is causing all other facets to break down.
The best secondary is the one that plays the least amount of time. Sam Madison, Patrick Surtain, Brock Marion, and Sammy Knight can 100% attest to that when they had Jason Taylor, Tim Bowens, and others anchoring the line. The Miami Dolphins could implement a bump at the line of scrimmage to delay the wide receivers, which allows the defensive components to attack the line of scrimmage and get to the quarterback.
Fast forward to now, and all the hype this past offseason was the signing of Vic Fangio, as Miami Dolphins new defensive coordinator. Fangio defense would be the missing piece of the puzzle that will help level the Dolphins into a legit contender. To be honest, the majority of Dolphins believed the hype, myself included, but what has been seen on the field hasn’t presented the expected results the fans were expecting.
Against the Los Angeles Chargers, Fangio baited the Chargers in high two deep safeties all game, with zero blitzing until the fourth quarter. Against the New England Patriots, it was all about containing the run, with a hybrid nickel formation with a two-box safety look. The Dolphins showed that they could contain the run. The Broncos game - well that was just fun!
Last week, the Buffalo Bills showed that regardless of who is calling plays on defense, they can still call and implement whatever they want. They had four consecutive series of success, which led to a 28-point orchestration. Josh Allen, the Bills starting quarterback might not have even broken a sweat, as there wasn’t anyone around him. Where was this amazing defense?
To the eyes of all fans watching, they saw their starting defense get run over, beat at the line of scrimmage, fail to get to the quarterback and fail to assign or help coverage. How many times did we see Stefan Diggs' own second-year player Kader Kohou? Kohou has played well for an undrafted free agent, but why Xavien Howard wasn’t lined up against Diggs after the 2nd or 3rd touchdown, doesn’t present or show that Fangio understood what was going on.
Back to the trenches. Christian Wilkins is one of my favorite players, but to be honest with you, I couldn’t remember if he even played on Sunday. This is a player that is looking for a groundbreaking contract. Let’s focus on the other side of the field, specifically, Ed Oliver. Oliver had three solo tackles, five quarterback pressures, and one sack against Miami. Oliver received a four-year 64 million dollar contract. The Dolphins offered 22MM to Wilkins for 4 years (24 million more per year than Oliver), based on what everyone saw on Sunday, which player would you want on your team?
Bradley Chubb signed a five-year, 110MM dollar contract, and the way his contract has been delegated, there is no escape clause for Miami, they are basically going to have Chubb on this team until 2027. The dead cap hits are too substantial to not have him on the team. Chubb was a player the Dolphins acquired at the trade deadline last year, also Chubb had his best career year with Fangio being his head coach. The alignment was there for Chubb to have a breakout season - but besides the forced fumble against New England, I can’t remember any other play, his name was called.
Maybe Fangio needs more time.
Maybe the players need more on-field training.
Maybe Fangio's defense needs more innovation.
Regardless of what happens next, there are a lot of maybes and possibilities, of being labeled for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. Time is the biggest enemy. The next two weeks allow for Fangio to make some important adjustments as the Giants and Panthers come to town, before two challenging opponents, the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs.
Fangio has to get his side of the ball in order. Regardless of how innovative Mike McDanel’s offense can be, every Sunday can’t be a track meet. The Dolphins are searching for balance, and right now, it’s heavily one-sided.