The Miami Dolphins defense was 21st overall, 13th against the run and allowed 19.8 points per game, seventh among all teams. They were also 29th in the league last season with 16 takeaways. Although they looked decent on paper, the failed to make big plays on the field.
Dolphins’ defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle thinks the team has a better ability to create takeaways. Coyles system is a 4-3 and he likes what he sees from the defensive line. He can rely on Cam Wake, Paul Soliai and Randy Starks as well as rookie defensive end Dion Jordan who has shown he has a bright future in early practices. Veteran linebackers like Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe have shown promise along with top of cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Richard Marshall.
Head coach Joe Philbin said he likes the attitude of the defense, “I think they’ve caught onto the system a little better. There seems to be less communication errors than the past. They seem to be on the same page a little bit more.”
Philbin and Coyle both have stated they want to eliminate allowing big plays in the passing game.
During Wednesday's practice some improvements were shown on the field. During a non-contact 11-on-11 drill, they basically eliminated those big plays. Another drill showed a play in the end zone, Grimes intercepted a pass while he was covering new addition Mike Wallace.
Practice sessions throughout the week also showed how the Dolphins are moving players around at different positions. Jared Odrick has been next to Paul Soliai and Starks at tackle, after spending most of 2012 at defensive end due to injuries on the line.
Marshall has been getting work as the nickel back. He covers Nolan Carrol and Grimes who has been in the slot. Jimmy Wilson, a safety, has been given the chance to on both nickel and dime packages.
Starks is hesitant to say Miami is now an elite defensive unit during last week's OTAs. “It looks good right now.” He continues, “Everything looks good on paper until the pads come on. So we’ll see.”
On the other hand, Coyle believes the defense will be “significantly” better than last season.
“I believe we're going to do a much better job in the turnovers," he said. "I believe that every year, but that's a gut feeling that it's going to happen. And I do think we're going to cut down the number of big plays that happened against us in the passing game. If we do that, we'll be competitive each and every week."
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