It may seem obvious or a given to most of us, but I haven't read it enough times that I feel comfortable with the issue.
Sometimes in life, we simple have to judge a book by it's cover. Sometimes we do have to believe our eyes. Sometimes, when it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's a duck. I am talking about the Dolphins defensive ranking and their presence on the field this year.
Oh, there have been a few letdowns (Jets at home, Patriots at home) but generally speaking, the defense is vastly improved. The Dolphin's scoring defense, for example, currently ranks seventh in the league; they were 25th last year. I haven't seen this quick a turnaround since the Broncos did it a year earlier, finishing 12th, and that was down from a ranking of 30th in their previous year. Coincidentally, Mike Nolan was the architect both times. Quack quack (okay, that was dumb, I know.)
Can you imagine how strong the Dolphin defensive ranking would be if the Dolphin offense could sustain more drives and keep our defense off the field? What if we had held onto some of those dropped interceptions? Well, we would be playoff bound, quite frankly and that's with a quarterback named Chad Henne. But the interceptions didn't happen, why? That Bronco defensive turnaround in 2009 included a vast improvement in turnover ratio. Why can't it happen for our team?
I believe the defensive backs in these situations (and this may spill over to other positions in other situations) need to play with a little more confidence. Too many times on these plays it looks like the backs are trying too hard and the interceptions become like a quest for the Holy Grail.
Confidence can manifest itself in different styles, cool and slick like Deion Sanders for example, or just plain intense like Derrell Revis. Different styles, to say the least, but neither one seemed to drop a lot of INT's. The Dolphins need to find their own manifestation—their own style. Pressure is only good up to a certain degree. Is it possible the team tries too hard in front of their own fans?
Intensity is essential, but this type of pressure I speak of is not. With a tweaking of the Dolphin mindset, these picks will not be dropped. "So you think, so shall you be," and, with a little more confidence, this team can be borderline to excellence.
I believe, in the coming years, if it hasn't happened already, that top defenses will not resemble the "Steel Curtain" of years past or "The Monsters of the Midway." It has simply become too difficult to defend the pass in today's NFL, for a full 60 minutes, game after game after game.
And in case you hadn't noticed, the design of the pass-happy offenses keep getting happier.
So, what is the solution? Change the way you think about the game: Good defenses will not shut teams out and shut teams down, game after game after game. Good defense will get burned on occasion. They will, however, also win games. They will not drop so many picks. It is not the result of self-induced pressure, but the result of execution, practice and confidence. I am under the theory that Mike Nolan brings these things to the table.
In the recent past, and this may very well apply to the NFL in general, too much stock has been put in a head coach that brings a good resume to the table. I believe that any head coach who might be coming in, should be brought in with the understanding that Nolan stays. For that matter, whose to say Nolan himself wouldn't make a good head coach the second time around.
Just a thought.