Stat Watch: 3 Statistics the Miami Dolphins' Defense Must Improve or Maintain
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With the Miami Dolphins putting in their new systems on both offense and defense, this seems like as good a time as any to set the stage for where they should be hoping to improve.
After all, the areas of needed improvement may or may not have had an impact on some of the changes the Dolphins made.
With help from Pro Football Reference, we'll take a look at where the Dolphins must improve or maintain in 2012.
Improve: Yards Per Pass Attempt
In a season where records of passing dominance were set left and right, and where a league-wide epidemic of big plays through the air ran wild for a large majority of the season, the Dolphins were average in the passing game.
Very average. In fact, the league average for YPA was 7.2. The Dolphins weighed in at a 7.3.
They essentially hit a reset button with the installation of a new system and the drafting of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and while there will be many gauges for how effective the new offense truly is, one of the best barometers will be YPA.
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Offensive sack ratio: when a high number isn't a good thing. That's why the Dolphins' 9.98 percent (!!!!) is such an eye-popping number. That means Dolphins quarterbacks were sacked once on nearly every 10 dropbacks.
The Dolphins built a mauling offensive line based around the ground-and-pound philosophy, but with Joe Philbin installing a zone blocking scheme on the offensive line, they'll be fielding a smaller, quicker unit that will be better equipped to deal with speedy pass-rushers (they hope).
Between Artis Hicks, Lydon Murtha, Jonathan Martin and John Jerry, the Dolphins have options at right guard and right tackle. Whoever wins, they have to be better than Marc Colombo was last year...right?
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The Dolphins' dominant run on defense was predicated primarily off their stout run defense, which held opponents to just 3.7 yards per carry. That average ranked third in the NFL in 2011.
But they could stand to lose some ground against the ground game if it means improving against the pass.
The Dolphins should have an easier time of getting after the quarterback with a four-man line in 2012; they registered 41 sacks as a team in 2011, but defensive end Cameron Wake carried the load for their pass rush.
Changes to the back end of the defense could help, as well, with the addition of cornerback Richard Marshall giving the Dolphins a solid cornerback opposite Vontae Davis. The safety position, which remains a question mark, will need to have some answers if the Dolphins want to complete the defensive face lift.
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