How Much Better is Miami’s Run Defense?
The Miami Dolphins spent almost all their salary cap space this offseason on offense. They made a huge trade for Tyreke Hill. Their one big signing on defense, Melvin Ingram III seems best suited as a situational pass rusher. The question remains as to how much the defense improved, if at all, this offseason.
The Dolphins notably signed no defensive linemen or linbackers, besides Ingram, outside of their own free agent Brennan Scarlett. That means the Dolphins kept the same defensive line and linebackers . The team improved to 12th best in run yards per game but in the biggest game of last season they gave up 40-191 against the Tennessee Titans. Ryan Tannehill only passed for 120 yards.
Channing Tindall, the teams third round draft pick, analysts view as being better in coverage than against the run. Miami needs more than just the improvement of Christian Wilkins against the run to stop good running teams such as the Titans or a great back like Indianapolis Colts Johnathan Taylor. Circle this years games against the Baltimore Ravens, Minnesotta Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, and San Francisco 49ers to see how much the run defense improved. All of those teams traditionally run the ball well and have quality backs.
Pass Rush Development Without Blitzing Needed
With Brian Flores as Miami’s coach the Dolphins ran a blitz heavy scheme last season. It led to 48 sacks, tied for fifth most in the NFL last year. That’s the good news, but the downside of a blitz heavy scheme is leaving your corners are often left in one-on-one coverage. As good as Xavien Howard and Byron Jones are playing zone more would make them even better.
The Dolphins, while generating plenty of sacks, still finished 17th in pass yards per game. A good example of why the team got pressure but gave up yards are the games against the Buffalo Bills. Josh Allen, a big, strong, mobile quarterback forces teams to cover receivers longer. If those receivers beat the one-on-one coverage it leads to big plays. Buffalo’s big plays are a major reason for the Bills winning the last seven games in the rivalry.
Running Game Upgrade Should Help Defense Improve
Whether the defense improved this offseason or not Miami spent plenty of money to upgrade something that can make it better, its running game. Miami signed Terron Armstead and Connor Williams to help protect Tua Tagovailoa, but both are considered strong run blockers.
The Dolphins signed Chase Edmonds, Sony Michel, and Raheem Mostert to bolster a running game that finished 30th in yards per game last year. Head Coach Mike McDaniel’s creativity in the run game is well known. Hill and Jaylen Waddle may also be used on jet sweeps as well. The running game improving to even middle of the pack helps keep the defense off the field. Less time for the defense on the field could equal a better, fresher pass rush, and fewer chances for teams to run on Miami. That growth must happen for Miami to be competitive in this year’s AFC.
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