You want a defense that quarterbacks fear? You want a defense that gets off the field on third down? You want a defense that can make up for some deficiencies in the secondary?
Then you want a defense that rushes, hurries, sacks, hits, or torments the quarterback.
The Dolphins need that type of defense Sunday at San Diego. The Dolphins need to put Phillip Rivers on his behind otherwise, as the commercial says, he might go all Phillip Rivers on Miami.
What I'm saying is the Dolphins need to improve their pass rush. And they must do it by any means necessary which might include doing that which the team doesn't like to do much -- blitz.
The Dolphins are not a good blitzing team. Let's face it, Neither Akin Ayodele nor Channing Crowder are great blitzers. Crowder has 1.5 career sacks. Ayodele has 9.5 career sacks in eight years but none since 2006.
Miami's most efficient blitz last year was the cornerback blitz by Nathan Jones, believe it or not.
And yet it is clear that Miami needs to find some way to get some pressure, certainly more pressure than it did against Indianapolis.
“I think that against Atlanta, I think we hit the quarterback about ten times in that game, maybe a few more -- 8, 10, 12 times we hit the quarterback, and I think [Phillip] Merling had a sack, Jason [Taylor] had a sack," coach Tony Sparano said Wednesday. "This game this week, I’d say we hit the quarterback half of those times, probably about five times if I’m correct, maybe even four times we had quarterback hits in this game.
"So, not enough pressure this past week which is not – well, you guys asked me last week about sacking that quarterback, and that’s not, that’s not an easy thing to do. Those guys don’t give them up many times, and he [Peyton Manning] gets the ball out pretty quick. So I would say from a pressure standpoint we’re always looking for more on the quarterback at least, and we’d like to get it in a way that we don’t have to generate it.”
By "generate" pressure, Sparano means blitzing. But when the pressure isn't coming with the four rushers, you have to try something else.
Look for the Dolphins to do that Sunday, or at least be ready to do that if they can't generate the pressure they want on Rivers with their four-man rush. The team, as I have suggested, is also working toward bringing pass-rush specialist Cameron Wake to the game.
But he's been hindered, and inactive, by the fact he isn't good enough to contribute on special teams yet.
"It’s not anything other than that," Sparano said. "It’s, to be honest with you, we were hoping to get him to a point special teams-wise where he could be a little more familiar with some of the techniques and things that we were asking him to do that way.
"We will get him there, and I think he’s close to that point, been getting better and better and we’ve been repping him – we’ve been preparing Cameron every week, the first two weeks, like he’s playing in the game. So, he’s putting in reps, doing those jobs so that he can be more familiar that way. The other thing I would say is playing his position against the run. It isn’t pass rush with him, it’s playing his position against the run. The things that Jason [Taylor] did, he will do faster than Cameron, in other words, learning the fundamentals of that position.
"And again, were preparing him during the week like he’s playing, so he’s getting more and more of those reps too.”
The Dolphins are blessed this week in that San Diego's offensive line is in shambles. Center Nick Hardwick is out because of an ankle injury. Guard Kris Dielman (illness), offensive tackle Marcus McNeil (illness), and guard Louis Vasquez (knee) did not practice at all Wednesday.
But the Dolphins cannot rely merely on injuries to save their pass rush bacon. The Dolphins need both Jason Taylor and Joey Porter to bring their A-games Sunday. They need Phillip Merling to play like he did against Atlanta. They need Jason Ferguson to continue playing as he has, which is quite good. And they need Kendall Langford and Randy Starks to show up for the first time this regular season.
Helloooo ... The season has begun, guys.
Failing that, this team faces a quarterback that threw for 436 yards last week against Baltimore's special defense. Imagine what he might do to Miami if he's not somehow rushed, hurried, and otherwise made to feel uncomfortable?
It's a must.