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Dolphins defense needs new approach vs. Pats

Just watched the New Orleans Saints demolish the New England Patriots. It was such a thorough whipping of the AFC East leaders that coach Bill Belichick pulled his starting offense out of the game with 5:38 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Belichick, by the way, has the look of a coach in his final season at New England. That is just my instinct and not anything I am reporting -- just a feel.

Anyway, the point here is how the Saints were able to so dominate the Patriots on both sides of the ball, but particularly on defense.

The Saints made Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker and the rest of the Patriots offense seem ordinary. And New Orleans did it while playing a rookie cornerback (Michael Jenkins) and two vets signed off the street within the last couple of weeks (Mike McKenzie and Chris McAlister).

"It's pretty amazing those guys weren't part of our team two weeks ago," New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees said. "The fact they got out there and contributed as much as they did, it's pretty amazing considering we do some pretty complicated things on defense."

Amazing, indeed, in that Brady was intercepted twice and left the Big Easy with a terrible 55.0 QB rating.

"They did what they do," Belichick said of the New Orleans defense. "They played zone. They double-covered. They rushed. They played man."

The Saints did it all and this is where I'm hoping Dolphins defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni stayed up past his bedtime watching the game.

In Miami's 27-17 loss to New England on Nov. 8, the Dolphins came after Brady and put their cornerbacks in man-coverage on practically every play. It was the blueprint borrowed from the New York Giants' Super Bowl victory over New England.

That plan failed the Dolphins the first game -- in part because they don't have the personnel the Giants had two seasons ago. Well, the Miami defense needs to protect its corners on Sunday as much as the Saints had to Monday night. The Dolphins need to diffuse the Moss big-play threat as much as New Orleans did. The Dolphins need to frustrate Brady as much as New Orleans did.

So why wouldn't the Dolphins try to confuse Brady? Why wouldn't they try to protect their two rookie corners with some zone and double-coverage as well as some man? Why wouldn't the Dolphins come with six-man rushes followed by three-man rushes and eight-man coverage?

Why wouldn't the Dolphins do the unexpected rather than what they have been doing practically all year long?

The truth of the matter is Pasqualoni's defense has been a disappointment so far this season. It has allowed a whopping 275 points this year, which averages out to 25 points per game. Miami is 26th in the NFL in scoring defense, and considering points are what determine the outcome of games, that's an important and distressing statistic.

It is a statistic that has fans quite unhappy with Pasqualoni because the Dolphins have devoted many resources to making the defense a good one since Bill Parcells took over the football decisions in 2008.

The Dolphins have drafted seven defensive players the past two years -- including first-rounder Vontae Davis in 2009 and what-should-be-considered-a-first-rounder (32nd overall) Phillip Merling in 2008. Three defensive players were added via trades and six more players were signed as unrestricted free agents.

That's 17 players the new regime has added to play defense. And they are giving up 25 points per game compared to 27.3 points per game in 2007 under Cam Cameron and 17.6 points per game in 2006 under Nick Saban.

So yeah, doing something different vs. New England might be a good idea for Pasqualoni.


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