The Miami Dolphins secondary is on fire.
Last Sunday it had two interceptions of Blake Bortles, by Brent Grimes and Louis Delmas, and both returned their picks for touchdowns. (That's very good for the Dolphins). Delmas also had a recovery of a Bortles fumble.
Two weeks ago, the secondary had an interception against Jay Cutler, this one by Reshad Jones, and that pick gave the offense the ball at the Chicago 23 yard line and also eventually led to a touchdown. Cortland Finnegan also caused a fumble in that game.
On Sept. 28 against Oakland, the Dolphins secondary collected an interception by Grimes, which led to a Dolphins field goal, and Finnegan recovered a fumble and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown. Oh, yes, Jimmy Wilson and Walt Aikens also had an interception each in that game.
So to recap the past four games, the Miami secondary has six interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns and two others that resulted in 10 points, collected two fumble recoveries, including one returned for a touchdown, and forced another fumble.
Three of the four members in the starting secondary -- Grimes, Finnegan and Delmas -- have scored and Jones had a turnover that led to a score.
Great work by them. Fine job by DB coach Lou Anarumo and his assistant Blue Adams.
So this unit is doing work, no?
“Most definitely," Jones said Tuesday. "We’ve got some veteran guys on the outside. I think we have some of the best corners in the league. Me and Lou [Delmas], I think we’re doing a good job. We’ve got the ball rolling in the right direction. We’ve just got to keep it going."
Ah, there's the issue.
It's an issue because while the Miami secondary has been a turnover-producing machine and has rivaled the offense in points production, it has done much of its work against some lesser quarterbacks.
The two interceptions in Jacksonville came against a rookie quarterback. The interception against Oakland was against a rookie quarterback. The fumble return against Oakland happened on a bad exchange between the center and the rookie quarterback's backup, Matt McGloin.
Jay Cutler? He's been a good quarterback. He's a veteran. His numbers are solid. But everyone understands there are questions about him of late.
The one game the Miami secondary hasn't really produced big plays in the past month was against Green Bay. And one supposes that's because QB Aaron Rodgers is elite. So it's understandable.
But the problem is the Dolphins and that ball-hawking, turnover-producing, points-scoring secondary are about to embark on a series of games against top-tier, indeed, elite quarterbacks.
No more rookies (Bortles and Derek Carr). No more backups sent in the game to clean up (Matt McGloin). No more QBs that are being looked at sideways in their own locker room (Cutler).
The next three of four games the Dolphins meet quarterbacks that boast QB ratings over 100.
The next three of four games the Dolphins meet quarterbacks with TD to INT ratios of 3-to-1 or better.
The next two of four games the Dolphins meet quarterbacks who have already thrown 20 TD passes or more and still have at least half a season ahead of them to chase more scores.
In the next four games the Dolphins meet Phillip Rivers, Matthew Stafford, Kyle Orton and Peyton Manning. (Wait, Orton is that Sesame Street quarterback that does not belong with the others, right? Well, only if you dismiss his 104 QB rating and 9 TD and 3 INT work since taking over the starting job in Buffalo.)
In other words, things are about to get real for the Miami secondary starting with Rivers on Sunday. He of the bolo tie has 20 TDs and 5 INTs so far with a 109.9 rating, which is third-best in the NFL. That means he's having a very good season.
“Everybody knows Philip Rivers has been a great quarterback in this league for a long time," Grimes said. "He gets rid of the ball quick. He stands and looks pressure in the face and still makes accurate throws. He has a great arm. You can go on and on about him.
"You’ve just go to make it tough, just like anybody else in this league. There are a lot of great quarterbacks and, if you give them easy things, you’re going to make them look even better. We’ve just got to try and challenge him all game and make things not easy for him."
Finnegan echoed his fellow cornerback...
“He’s playing at a high level, at an MVP level," Finnegan said. "He’s got 20 touchdowns. He’s got receivers. He’s got a tight end. He’s got a running game. You’ve got to be on point. You can’t give him anything easy, make them earn everything. You’re hopeful at the end of the day that’s enough, but we’ll see.
"It’s a tough task."
That's the way it is going to be for the Miami secondary the next four games. They've faced some inexperienced quarterbacks the last few weeks. They face some elite guys, particularly Rivers and Manning, the next few weeks.
Oh, I forgot to mention: Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson said Tuesday he'll be ready to play after nursing a bum ankle the past month when the Lions return from their bye ... against the Dolphins.