For years, the staple of the Miami Dolphins has been the defensive side of the football.
A hard-nose identity for a tough-nosed football team.
Last season alone, because of a much maligned offense that only boasted a 1000-yard rusher in the electrifying Reggie Bush, the Dolphins had trouble scoring points. Now in the midst of another quarterback battle, the Dolphins offense is once again in flux. Bringing Chad Johnson back to his hometown will give the offense more stability, but the defense is where the Dolphins will win games.
In other words, the Dolphins will have to create turnovers in order to get opportunities to score.
With the mentality of a bend but don't break defense, the Dolphins allow long drives that do not result in points. Finishing the season only allowing 19.6 points a game, the Dolphins finished sixth in total points allowed.
In addition, with the third-ranked rush defense in the NFL last season, the defense played incredible.
With the amazing defense of the Miami, the Dolphins still finished with a miserable 6-10 record last season.
With the spectacular play defensively, the weak link in the chain was the passing aspect of their defense.
The Dolphins next season will heavily rely on the improvement of their secondary to help continue win games. Last season alone, the Dolphins gave up more than 60 plays that resulted in 20 yards or more plays. The only two teams that were worse than them were the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots.
The Dolphins were terrible at their pass defense. Ranked 25 in the NFL, the Dolphins allowed 249 yards a game through the air, including a historic Monday Night quarterbacking performance from Tom Brady. Torching Miami, Brady threw for 511 yards and four touchdowns and exposed the Dolphins pass defense.
When the Dolphins drafted Vontae Davis in the first round in 2009, he has continually been a model of consistency for the Dolphins. Last season he recorded four interceptions which was the exact number he recorded during his rookie season while only playing four less games.
As a cornerback, Davis is constantly getting interceptions, though he has the talent and ability to play at an elite level.
With the Dolphins latest addition in cornerback Richard Marshall, coach Joe Philbin is attempting to make Davis work hard to earn his right as a starting cornerback.
In response, Davis said this to the Palm Beach Post:
“Nobody has a spot locked up,” Davis said. “Training camp, you got to come in, work hard. It’s a new year. Everybody’s spot’s open on the team.”
As for the other side of the field, Sean Smith has locked up his starting position.
Though having a down season with his coverage skills last year, Smith statistically improved. Last season, he had a career year with only two interceptions. Also, Smith recorded 62 tackles with 52 solo tackles. Numbers that got him into the top 25 for tackles as a cornerback.
If the tandem of Davis and Smith can play to any form of their potential, they will remind Dolphins fans of a past cornerback tandem that was amazing to the franchise—Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison.
While playing for the Miami Dolphins, Surtain and Madison combined for 58 interceptions and four touchdowns.
Granted the teams they played for never had enough talent to win the Super Bowl, the two cornerbacks combined for 7 Pro Bowls, and in 2002 they ended up playing alongside each other again in the Pro Bowl.
The Dolphins will have their work cut out for them next season, and the offseason work of Davis and Smith will be put up to the test when they will line up against great receivers such as Santonio Holmes, Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, Stevie Johnson, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and AJ Green next season.
If the cornerbacks of the Dolphins developed correctly during the offseason, look for the fins to make some noise next season.
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