Behind Enemy Lines: Miami/Arizona, Part III

The Miami Dolphins were able to bring Brett Favre down last week, three times, but overall they allowed New York to tally up the yards.'s Amberly Richardson asks's Alain Poupart all about Miami's defense including how Phillip Merling is looking in the rotation, former Cardinals' Quentin Moses' role on the team and much more in part three of a four-part exclusive.

Amberly Richardson: The Dolphins defense tallied three sacks on Brett Favre last week. Besides the rookie Kendall Langford it was returning players Matt Roth and Joey Porter who brought Favre down. Is the defensive front seven one of the more consistent groups for Miami?

Alain Poupart: The front seven actually had a rather disappointing showing against the Jets, who rushed for 112 yards. Although there were sacks against Favre, the pressure really wasn't that consistent. The inside linebackers, Channing Crowder and Akin Ayodele, also had forgettable performances. The front seven really should be one of the strengths of the team, but it didn't play that way against the Jets.

AR: How is Phillip Merling fitting in the unit and what are the Dolphins' expectations of the rookie?

AP: The Dolphins are rotating a lot of players up front, and Merling is part of that rotation. The Dolphins are hoping he can contribute as a pass rusher, but he's not as stout a run defender at this point as fellow rookie defensive lineman Kendall Langford.

AR: Linebacker Quentin Moses traveled through Arizona last year before heading to Miami, what's his role on the team? AP: Moses is seeing action on special teams and also being used as a backup at outside linebacker. But he's not a significant factor on the defense at this point and probably won't be unless there's an injury at the position. He made the transition from defensive end well enough to make the 53-man roster, but he's clearly the last of the four OLBs on the roster behind Roth, Porter and free agent pick-up Charlie Anderson. AR: The Cardinals are a high-flying team with two superstar receivers, how is the Dolphins' pass rush? AP: That remains a mystery after the Jets. As mentioned before, the Dolphins did have three sacks, but that's not good enough if there are too many plays where the quarterback has a lot of time to throw the ball. I'd rather have consistent pressure where the quarterback is hurrying his throws on a regular basis. Porter did have a sack in the opener, but he wasn't a major factor; the same applies to Roth, whose sack and forced fumble came because Favre held the ball too long and failed to recognize that Roth was about to hit him from behind. AR: A goal for Arizona is to move the pass-rush ratio closer to 50-50, how is Miami at stuffing the run? AP: The Dolphins should be good at stuffing the run, but they didn't show that against the Jets. Nose tackle Jason Ferguson was neutralized pretty well by the Jets and veteran defensive end Vonnie Holliday was pretty much invisible. The linebackers didn't make any plays near the line of scrimmage, either. I would expect things to get better, but there is reason for concern at this point. AR: What's the atmosphere like after taking a loss in Week 1? AP: There's still some confidence in the locker room as the team is attributing its loss to the Jets to mistakes that easily can be corrected. For example, Coach Tony Sparano said Wednesday the team's problems stopping the run stemmed from missed assignments that are easily correctable. Everybody on this team believes they're nothing like the group that went 1-15 in 2007, but now it's time to start seeing results. AR: What is Bill Parcells' influence like in Miami? What is the general attitude toward his arrival? AP: Parcells' influence is very obvious, and everyone can see there seems to be a lot more accountability than there was under Cam Cameron. Parcells' track record also has given the players and fans a new sense of confidence that things finally will get turned around. That's why his arrival was greeted with such enthusiasm. AR: Although predictions generally end with foot-in-mouth, what's yours for Week 2 and why? AP: After the Dolphins were outplayed by the Jets, it's difficult to predict them to come out and beat the Cardinals on the road, but there are reasons for optimism if you're a Dolphins fan. The Cardinals run defense does not appear that stout from this end, and I'm thinking Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown should have a much better day than they had against the Jets. On the flip side, though, the Dolphins' coverage problems don't bode well against Boldin and Fitzgerald. My pick: The Cardinals take it in a game that will be closer than most think. Arizona, 24-21.

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