The Miami Dolphins have had to endure national media calling them frauds and pretenders, now, the 2nd half of the season is a chance to shed that.
Much has been written and said about the Dolphins' inability to beat teams with a winning record. A 21-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 9 didn't do much to help change that narrative. The offense was anemic once again in a loss and much was left to be desired on that final drive. But, if the Dolphins are going to compete for a Super Bowl in 2023 the defense has to step up their game.
Currently, the Dolphins stand at 6-3 atop the AFC East and if the playoffs started today they would go in as the number 4 seed hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers. You would have to go back to 2008 to see the last time the Miami Dolphins hosted a playoff game. That year, Chad Pennington guided the Dolphins to an 11-5 record and an AFC East Division Title.
In 2023 the Dolphins are in the Top 5 for every statistical category on offense through 9 games. Even if you took out the Denver game and argued that the inflated score of 70 helped pad the teams' statistics; the Dolphins would still be a top 5 offense. Now I'm just guessing here but, I think the last time Miami had such an electric offense was when Duper and Clayton were catching passes from Dan Marino.
It's time for the genius of Vic Fangio to show itself at Hard Rock Stadium and anywhere else this team finds itself playing. For all the talent and money, on this defense, they should be doing better than 26th in avg. points allowed and 23rd in total points allowed. This Dolphin defense has recorded a pedestrian 4 interceptions and 5 fumble recoveries for a total of 9 takeaways; that's only 2 takeaways more than the worst team in the league. Couple that with 13 giveaways on offense and Miami has a turnover differential of -4.
Only 7 teams have ever won the Super Bowl with a negative turnover ratio. Fans would have to go back to the 2015 Broncos and the 2007 Giants to find the most recent Super Bowl Champion with such a fleeting statistic. The Miami Dolphin defense also ranks towards the bottom half of the league in Tackles for Loss and only has 1 defensive touchdown the entire season.
At 6-3 the defense has yet to put their stamp on a game. Tua outdueled Herbert in week 1 in what turned out to be a shootout. Games against the Panthers, Giants, and Broncos aren’t exactly the measuring stick teams look for to gauge the success of their defense.
In week 2 the defense almost lost to the hapless Patriots. The narrative of not being able to win against above .500 teams has some merit. It is going to be on Vic Fangio and his defense to help change the narrative and make this team one to be feared come playoff time.
If the Dolphins are going to change the narrative around the league as well as their success against the elite teams down the stretch, the defense must begin to play Super Bowl-caliber defense. With 8 games to go Miami’s offense and defense have their work cut out for them. Games against the Cowboys, Jets, Ravens, and Bills will be a great barometer for this defense and how well they’ve adjusted to Vic Fangio’s style of defense.
If the offense can stay hot and the defense can elevate their game, there just might be a parade down Dan Marino Blvd.