Andrew Innerarity

The Dolphins' Defense is struggling to Learn Lessons

New Dolphins Report writer Tony Samboras breaks down the Miami Dolphins' problems on defense.

Around the NFL, it's time for one team in particular to take stock of itself as they continue slipping from playoff contention. The Miami Dolphins have lost three of its last four games to move to 4-6 on the season. In the process, they seemed to have developed a surefire formula for losing football games.

 On defense, there is two things you have to do in the NFL. The first is stop the run. The second is put pressure on the quarterback. Time and again, the Dolphins have shown they think they can win football games without doing either of these two things and based on results, nothing could be further from the truth.

 This is the exact formula the Dolphins used this past weekend to help put the Dallas Cowboys back in the win column after seven straight losses. Of course, it didn't hurt the Cowboys that they finally got starting quarterback Tony Romo back on the field after he missed the last seven games with an injury.

 For anyone looking at the game's final stats. there will be a familiar pattern that's worth noting because it's the same pattern found in every Dolphins loss. On defense, they gave up a total of 166 yards rushing on 38 carries with RB Darren McFadden accounting for 129 yards on 29 carries. To add insult to injury, they also neglected to get any pressure on a rusty Romo who was only sacked two times and had all day to find his targets on a rainy day in Miami.

When the finger pointing starts, interim Head Coach Dan Campbell should get more than his fair share of the blame for the team's inability to make adjustments on defense. When a trend presents itself so clearly on the field, there should be very little doubt about where resources need to be focused.

 When asked about what he thought the issues were, he responded by saying "It was drops and penalties that really killed us,"?Campbell later added "Kudos to those guys over there; they played good football, and they capitalized on our mistakes. But we really hurt ourselves. They took full advantage of those penalties. The holding penalties and the drops early in the game, our two third-down drops, hurt us."

 Hmmm. One gets the feeling Coach Campbell might not get a shot at having interim removed from his title. For analysts and fans around the country, the real issues are as described on defense and something needs to be done about it in a hurry or the Dolphins will find themselves in line for a nice draft choice.

 On the season, the Dolphins have been quite a disappointment. With QB Ryan Tannehill finally maturing into an NFL quality quarterback, experts and Dolphins fans finally felt like the team had enough pieces to go deep into the playoffs this season.

 After a 1-2 start to the season, they ran off three straight victories and looked like they might be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the season. However, it didn't take long for the team to come crashing back to earth when the defensive wheels came off the playoff bus as teams like the Patriots and Bills began to expose what has become the Dolphins' Achilles heel, its defense.

 With a little help from the NFL best picks provided by your favorite professional handicappers, you can form your own list of NFL consensus picks, which might help you expose potential plays. In a year when successfully handicapping the NFL has been like finding a nickel in the ocean, you can certainly make of use both NFL best picks and NFL consensus picks when facing off with your bookmaker.


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