Lack of Takeaways Still a Concern

Throughout the preseason, Dolphins players and coaches preached the importance of forcing turnovers. Defensive backs needed to do a better job of holding onto interceptions, they said. Defensive players needed to be in better position to pounce on fumbles, they said. And now, four games into the season, the Dolphins are saying the same things.

They need to create turnovers. They need to intercept passes. The defense has generated just two turnovers all season — a pair of interceptions.

The Dolphins are one of four teams in the NFL that have yet to recover an opponent's fumble.

Perhaps something will give Monday night against the Jets. Through five games, New York has lost five fumbles, and quarterback Mark Sanchez has thrown five interceptions.

Though the Jets still own a plus-1 turnover margin, they're averaging two giveaways per game.

Forcing turnovers could be key for the Dolphins on Monday night given their offense will enter the game with uncertainty. Quarterback Matt Moore, taking over for the injured Chad Henne, will become the Dolphins' 16th starting quarterback since Dan Marino retired following the 1999 season.

Moore played well at times in relief of Henne during the Dolphins' 26-16 defeat against the Chargers, then had the team's bye week to adapt to his new role as the starter.

The running game is uncertain, too, with rookie Daniel Thomas still working his way back from a hamstring injury.

The defense was expected to be the Dolphins' strength entering the season, but it has instead been the team's weakness

The front seven have failed to apply consistent pressure to opposing quarterbacks, and the secondary, which has dealt with injuries since the beginning of the season, has been exposed.

Vontae Davis, the team's first-round draft pick in 2009, has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury. Free safety Chris Clemons has also been limited by a hamstring injury that has negatively affected his production.

That leaves Sean Smith, the team's other young cornerback, as the one player the Dolphins have relied upon most in the secondary. And Smith, who developed a knack a season ago for playmaking, has yet to make his first interception this season.

"I'd like to see him get his hands on more footballs," Coach Tony Sparano said of Smith. "Sometimes the ball's got to come your way to have those opportunities, and really prior to last game, I think the San Diego game is when the most balls went Sean's way."

Overall, the Dolphins have seen their opponents average 36.8 pass attempts a game. Of those, they've successfully defended far too few.

That's a trend that must change on Monday night if Miami hopes to earn its first victory of the year.


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