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Dolphins defense focused on limiting big plays

One of the areas of concern the Dolphins identified in the offseason -- allowing explosive plays on defense -- was a topic of much conversation and study for the team during the bye week, as coaches tried to figure out why a defense that had limited those plays the season's first three weeks had imploded the past two games.

Against the Saints, the Dolphins yielded three explosive passes (defined by the team as covering 25 yards or more) and one explosive run (defined by the team as a run of 15 yards or more). Then against Baltimore, the defense allowed pass completions of 40, 41 and 43 yards to Joe Flacco and also was hit on a 28-yard run by Bernard Pierce.

The eight so-called explosive plays Miami allowed in the last two games outnumbered the six it had allowed in three previous games. And even the the six previous big plays was too much, if you ask coach Joe Philbin.

No wonder the coach said stopping explosive plays this week against Buffalo is a priority on defense.

"Number one is, we’ve given up too many explosive plays," Philbin said. "That’s something we need to address. We need to do a better job at. I would like to get people in a little longer-yard situations so we can kind of tee up on them, get our pass rush going, our blitz package or drop eight, a variety of all those things. But we have to do a better job of limiting explosive plays, no doubt. "

That is largely the assignment for defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, who obviously studied the issue so closely he recalled the individual plays from memory on Monday.

"Last week we had four explosive plays," Coyle began. "The first plus 20 yard run we gave up in the entire season was last week. It was in a defense that we didn’t fit the run correctly. It really was a play to our advantage to where they ran the ball and how they did it, yet the ball popped out and they gained 28 yards on it. We need to get that corrected, and I think we have.

"There were three passes, three big passes in that game the other day of 40 yards plus. Two of those came after a completion of about six yards. On the first one we missed a tackle and the guy ran for another 30 some odd yards. There was another one on an over route. We were in great position. It looked like we were going to intercept the ball, and we didn’t make the play on the ball at that point."

I asked Coyle about his level of concern given his boss's worries.

"I’m as concerned or more concerned than coach (Philbin) is about the big plays, but you’ve got to analyze how they are happening," he said. "Sometimes if they are happening, which is balls being thrown vertically down the field, then you have some issues in terms of the matchups. We haven’t really had those major problems thus far this year. I think we are just going to have to make more plays on the ball, create more pressure on the quarterback and hopefully we’ll see those things diminish quite a bit."

The problem with that is Miami hasn't really been at full strength defensively in recent weeks and the big plays have been the fallout result.

With defensive end Cameron Wake mostly out with a knee injury the past two weeks, the Dolphins haven't gotten the kind of pass rush they usually get when he's healthy. Starting cornerback Dimitri Patterson has missed four games and that has had a ripple effect throughout the secondary.

As Patterson is out, that means Nolan Carroll moves up to start and Jimmy Wilson moves up to nickel duty. So the Dolphins are putting their fourth-best rather than third-best cornerback on the field in nickel situations. And with Carroll dinged up at times in recent weeks, rookie Jamar Taylor has been pressed into duty at times. That's the fifth-best cornerback on the field.

(The Dolphins, by the way, are hopeful both Wake and Patterson will be available against Buffalo but it's still too early in the week to know for sure. I'd say Wake is expected to play. Patterson remains a bit of a question mark.)

Safety Chris Clemons has also been limited in practice for several weeks with various injuries. He missed part of the work Monday and Wilson took snaps at safety. That means Taylor must have had to take some snaps at nickel.

It is obviously difficult to get everyone working as a cohesive group when the group's individuals parts are often changing. Despite this, Coyle says the goal set at the beginning of the season when everyone was mostly healthy remains the goal today:

Cut down on big plays.

"We need to do a better job," he said. "We set that as a primary goal going into the season."


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Did i SAY it was you who had made the comment about Austin? You seem to read into an AWFUL lot of things. If I was calling you out on it I would have called you out by name. Don't recall who it was but HE knows.

Go back and check Bellichick draft record the last five years. Not too many guys left. We're talking guys like Mayo, Chandler Jones, Gronk, Mallett, as some of the only guys left. Lots of second and third round picks have bit the dust. Don't take my word for it, go back and check. Then add to it some great add like ocho, Haynesworth and Winslow and his talent acquisition is VERY spotty. What he is is a great coach, with a great QB. Covers up a lot of mistakes. A great GM he is not.

Yep, I guess the fact Brian Hartline went over 1000 yards and was a Pro Bowl alternate doesn't count for anything.

Posted by: Craig M | October 15, 2013 at 03:58 PM

It counts for a lot Craig. Too bad it was Parcell's in control at that time. But hey, you and Dashi keep being delusional. Maybe Ireland will hit on an offensive player next year instead of wasting our money with Wallace. As long as he fits that in between rebuilding the worse offensive line in football. I will be right there dreaming and disagreeing with both of you guys. We'll keep waiting.. like we have a choice :)

'You're done when a guy says Bellichick can't draft'? Have you even looked at what you're saying? please......humour me. Go back and look at Bellichick's draft. ABYSMAL! Why does he keep winning? He's a great strategist and has one of the best QBs of all time. The guy just knows how to execute.

Talent-wise New Orleans is a better team but when it's needed most, Brady and Bellichick jut know how to win.

Since joining the Dolphins Jeff Ireland has used 19 draft picks on skill position players yet doesnt have one top playmaker to show for it.


You've criticized the addition of Wallace but you haven't suggested how you'd make the offence and the WRs beter. What was your plan? Didn't you also say the trading of Bess was a 'horrific' mistake too?

Ted Ginn
Craig Davis
Anthony Gonzalez
Dwayne Jarrett
Steve Smith

The list goes on and on.....

Chad Jackson
Sinorice Moss
Even Santonio Holmes....

Trading Brandon Marshall for Michael Egnew was genius of Ireland!!

Sorry Craig- I just insuated it was me since Dashi seemed to think so. His vision is often clouded on things he says or thinks other people says... whatever.

I am not sure what your definition of a great GM is if Belicheck isn't good enough for you. I wonder if you would be saying the same thing if you were a Patriots fan. Most of the NFL admires Belicheck, not necessarily as a person (I think he's dirt), but as a coach and GM? Ask around the NFL and see what your answer would be on Belicheck vs Ireland. But blind Fins supporters will cling on to his misses in recent drafts while the Patriots keep chasing (and winning some) Superbowls. And they will point to the Patriots demise. The offense has slipped, Brady has slipped... while their defense just got better and they still find a way to win. Seems odd to me

Just Saying,

How far back are you going?

Hoping you have Hartline, Tannehill and Clay on that list, cause those guys are all starters.

Mike Wallace is a cancer. He'd rather catch 10 and lose then catch 3 and win. There is no team in Mike Wallace.


I'll take Ireland's last five drafts over Bellicheck's. If don't see that then I think you're letting your dislike for Ireland blind you.

But I'll also hazard a guess you've spent no time going back and researching this. If you have you wouldn't be saying this.

Craig- Go back and read Just Saying's post but keep defending Ireland. I never claimed to be a GM. But I went on record as saying that Wallace was a pretty big waste of money. But you want to take integral parts of the team and discount them for overpaid old players like Starks? Can't have it both ways. Starks has earned his paycheck ten times over what Wallace has. Talk about dead cap space.

SO want me to play GM? DRAFT a freakin' playmaker. And then continue bringing role players like Gibson into the mix. How did Denver do it? It's called good drafting and wise free agent additions. They did both.

I know you like to think Irleand does it just as well but how many examples do we need to give?


Troy Williamson
Mike Williams
Matt Jones
Mark Clayton
Reggie Brown
Mark Bradley
Roscoe Parrish
Terrence Murphy

Craig M,

Starters on a losing team are NOT the same as top playmakers. Henne was a 3 year starter, remember?

I'll research it Craig but at the end, it's pointless. But I will do it when the Patriots are making their annual SuperBowl run and The Fins are home watching. Really doesn't matter when one team consistently wins and the other one doesn't. Isn't that what it's about in the end?

Bye for now

Ireland has more busts than Dolly Parton. haha

Every GM misses in the draft, some more than others. Ireland hasn't drafted any star players, but has drafted some solid starters. Not great, not terrible. Jordan may prove to be a star player.

2 points:
1) Bellicheat is not a great GM. The truth is he got totally lucky with Brady in the 6th rd. Without that total stroke of luck, no super bowls, nothing. He just got lucky, period.
2) The win/loss record of the Miami Dolphins is the only, only true test of whether or not Jeff Ireland is a capable GM. So far, he has failed. Let's see how this year pans out.

Troy Williamson
Mike Williams
Matt Jones
Mark Clayton
Reggie Brown
Mark Bradley
Roscoe Parrish
Terrence Murphy

Posted by: Craig M | October 15, 2013 at 04:27 PM

I know it's fun for you posting the misses at WR. Now how about posting some of the winners? Or can't anybody play WR in the NFL unless you play for the Dolphins? This makes your look childish Craig.

While you're at it, why not throw a few of our losers into the mix? Or would that expose us? Bottom line- Ireland has not drafted a SINGLE game changer on offense less Tannehill. No go list some other BS that nobody cares about

go finssssssssssss

Just Saying,

Maybe you haven't noticed..... We're 3-2. That spells WINNING (as Charlie Sheen might say).

So I guess Big Ben, Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, Julio Jones and Matt Ryan aren't star players because they 'play for losing teams'?

Just to point out, it's not fair comparing Belichick and Ireland based on how the players perform on the respective teams. Belichick had an established system on both offense AND defense where he could plug and play ANYONE (see the WR core this year) and they would succeed. Ireland did not have that. So actually, both vegas and Craig could be right. Put those same players now on the Pats on the Dolphins, and I doubt we would have similar success. Make Ireland GM of the Pats, and they most likely are a better team than they are now.

Pats are successful for one reason (other than Brady) and one reason alone...SYSTEM! THAT'S what Belichick will go to the HOF for, being an outstanding HC and figuring out weaknesses of his opponents and how to capitalize on them every week.

But Ireland is not a horrible GM. He unfortunately came to a horrible team and had to build them from the ground up with no help from his coaching staff establishing a quality system on either side of the ball. And that's the triple truth, Ruth!

DC ,

That's my point with Bellichick......great strategist.he knows how to exploit weaknesses, how to prepare his players, how to get the most out of them. One of the best ever in that department. No question. But he is NOT a great acquirer of talent. The Pats team isn't one of the most talented in the league today. They shouldn't be 5-1, given. Their talent level and the numbers of injuries they have. But they are and they just beat one of the best teams in the league. Not sure exactly how they are doing it. All i know is Atlanta should have beat them at home and am up small and the Bills should have beat them week one and didn't. I don't attribute to luck but rather knowing how to win. They've done this for years now.


No offense taken.

I wasn't saying you said Draft T.Austin.

I was stating T.Austin was the Top WR available according to the Critics.

One of the worst position to draft Early in the Draft is WR. They have the least probability of success out of any position in the First 2 Rounds.

On play makers. I agree with some of what you say. But I am of the Belief you draft the Best Player Available regardless of Position. Regardless of Need.

If anyone remembers. Dashi was the Only one saying to Draft E.Lacy Early. He was the best Offensive play maker in this Draft.

3rd and 1. Lacy will get you that yard even if he has to carry 3 LBs with him.

Lacy and L.Miller would've been a Dynamic Duo. Better match than Bush and L.Miller. Or L.Miller and D.Thomas.

well dashi we wasted picks and traded up for jordan for some reason. we could of had number 12 and b albert instead

Trading in Welker for a 2 year $7M contract for a 5 year $30M Danny Amendola contract was not a great trade.

But because he has the Brady luxury and knows how to coach up a defense, he continues to win...won't get any more SuperBowls but still their fans can stay tuned and hope.

I think we will approach this soon too..We will know for sure by week 12 or if they lose even this Sunday ... big doo doo.

This is a huge game


Are we still blaming our losses on all of those guys? Or just Henne?

huge game is right mark, play at pats after this. need 2 of next 3 with bills, at pats, cincy on short week thurs game


I know you have been disappointed that Ireland hasn't taken a chance on a WR early.


As Ireland's #1 Fan. And a guy who understands Ireland's Mindset. You will be pleasantly surprised from the next Draft going Forward.

Ireland had to build the Depth of this Roster. And when you only Carry 5 WRs but Carry 10 D-linemen and 10 O-Linemen those positions take priority when building the majority of your roster.

Next season the Fins don't need to address the D-line early in the Draft. Maybe the O-line. But from how this coaching staff is built they will try and address that in the Middle Rounds.

The Secondary already has been addressed.

The only need we have on defense is if we lose both our DTs. Which I doubt Ireland won't try and resign at least 1 of them.

Egnew is gone. Clay and D.Sims are OK.

We don't need another QB, so check that off the list. Maybe one in the Late rounds to challenge Devlin for the Backup spot.

On our RBs. L.Miller and Thigpen are keeper. Doubt we resign D.Thomas.

We still need 1 WR. Hopefully one with Prototypical size.

Dolphins 2014 Draft Priority Should look something like This.

1- WR
2- RT
3- RG
4- LG
4- TE
5- FS
6- RB
7- LB

If you notice Ireland usually likes to alternate Drafts. One draft he goes mostly Defense the Next draft is mostly Offense. This Draft was Defense the next Draft will be mostly Offense.


I don't think B.Albert is that good. D.Jordan was the best Defensive Prospect in this Draft.

I know J.Taylor hasn't played a lot but he has the talent to be a pretty good CB in the league.

I wouldn't have wasted a 2nd round pick on B.Albert, and a Huge contract on him. He is on the wrong side of his Career. He probably has 3 or 4 more good seasons left. While Any of our Top 3 picks this season still have their whole Career ahead of them.

Most O linemen get knocked on their asses or simply pushed back into the QB on the regular. They are wimps. If they were not fat wimps, they would be D linemen.

Jake "Dough Boy" Long let Tanne get hit in the back of the knees about 25 times last year (to those of you complaining about Martin).

Those pointing out that Wallace is a cancer are correct. Those who tag him "garbage" are even more precise.

jordan hasnt been the best def player in draft thouygh. albert is a very big upgrade at lt for us

Are u joking or on drugs? The defense is playing well enough to win. Tell the receivers to catch the balls that hit their hands and the backs and line to block and we are undefeated!!!!!!

Draft WR Watkins next year, better than DeAndre Hopkins at Clemson.

I wouldn't have wasted a 2nd round pick on B.Albert, and a Huge contract on him. He is on the wrong side of his Career. He probably has 3 or 4 more good seasons left. While Any of our Top 3 picks this season still have their whole Career ahead of them.

Posted by: Dashi | October 15, 2013 at 05:28 PM

We're better off wasting those 2nd round picks on the D. thomas, Dallas thomas, Kendall Lngford, Jonathan martin, Pat White, Chad Henne and to move up in the first for D Jordan.

Brandon Albert + Sean Smith = UNDEFEATED

Best Defensive Prospect. Dashi didn't best defensive player.


Langford was a late pick. You are probably talking about P.Merling. The bad/Lazy version of Odrick.

Didn't say.

Wasn't Merling a 1st rounder?
In any case if we could get a starter for a 2nd round pick we need to execute that trade.

I take this arguement to mean great coaching makes up for lesser talent. This validates my whole Fire Sherm attitude. He does not make the most of our talent, and it shows.

Of course, every great Coach maximizes the talent they have. Shula did it many times, teaching Csonka how to run without getting hurt with the help of Carl Tassef, teaching Larry Little how to pull with the help of Monte Clark. But I don't think there is a Coach alive that can mold Players the way they want without the help of good assistant Coaches. Belichick tries his best with in-Game bench coaching, but it might not be enough to be successful.

The quality of good assistant Coaches has dropped precipitously in the last 20 years.

Would it be possibly for the OC to use some Originality in his play calling, you know, something that the Bills don't expect, hell, how about something that we Dolphin fans don't expect, and please at week 15 don't say we can fix that. Bill

Simply, they don't keep up with the Game.

Fire Ross, Tannehill is a big reason why we have 3 wins and not 1 or 2. Don't know what u are watching. He is in his 2nd year and has terrible blocking. Guess u would dump Luck for Alex Smith after his Monday night performance. Brady brought the Pats back but played bad up to that point. He would have been the goat had the Saints not gone ultra conservative. As usual He had great protection. Credit due though when he got one last chance he took advantage....back to the Fins, the problems are easy.. Questionable play calling and formations by both coordinators, injuries on D and Ireland's inability to indentify O line talent. Wasn't in favor of trading for Albert for a 1 year rental. However, the line he has put out there is ridiculous. So I'll give you that point.

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