« The strategy for addressing the rest of Miami's WR room | Main | RB Stevan Ridley visits Miami Dolphins »

Miami Dolphins going to simplify the 2015 defense

Among the criticisms that led fans and media (me) to wonder why Kevin Coyle was still the Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator after last season's November and December collapse, there was not one word of Coyle's use of multiple packages and varied personnel.

The truth is Coyle put a lot of looks on the field for the opposing offense to wade through -- or slice through, in some instances.

And he used his guys. A lot of them.

Coyle did a lot of things to make the Miami defense different.

But that was never considered a problem. Except now it is.

"We need to kind of simplify a little bit," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said of his upcoming 2015 defense. "We need to simplify personnel-wise. What happened is we had too many personnel packages. Too many combinations. You have to balance that as a coach because you want to utilize your personnel the right way. You want to take advantage of the strengths of your personnel.

"But in reality, sometimes it's hard to get the preparation down and get these guys confident in all their assignments. I think we have to shrink our personnel packages and we have to get better at our core defense. We have to have some things to hang our hat on. We have to get back, especially in our run defense, back to the core principles of defensive football. We have to do a better job coaching. We have to do a better job of demanding it."

So after a serious and thoughtful examination of the Miami defense -- work that took over two weeks after the season ended -- the Miami coaching staff decided the defense was too, well, much.

Too many combos.

Too many packages.

A jack of many trades. A master of none, really.

What does that mean for 2015?

Fewer players playing more, at least initially.

You probably won't see Will Davis in for some situations as a sixth DB and Jamar Taylor on other packages as that sixth DB. (Taylor may have to compete to start if the rest of free agency, a trade or the draft don't land Miami a certain starting cornerback).

You also will see more of an emphasis on tackling. The Miami defense was terrible tackling last year, especially in the secondary.

Cortland Finnegan cost the team a victory against Green Bay with poor tackling on the fake spike play. He tackles the receiver inbounds, game is over and Miami wins. Jimmy Wilson, a Coyle favorite, was a notoriously poor tackler as well.

And, of course, Coyle has to do a better job with the defenses he calls. Remember Phillip Wheeler told me Coyle admitted to him to calling the wrong or poor defenses in certain situations. That was an honest assessment of what was happening.

"There's a couple of defenses we wished we wouldn't have ... there were a couple of defenses we got caught in at the end of the year on a reverse or two where there certaintly could have been a better call," Philbin said. "So it's not one player. It's not all the calls. It's a collective thing and we have to do a better job.

"We're simplifying personnel wise and condensing our packages a little bit. We're going to say, 'Here are our basic principles of defense' every day."

Comments