The secondary has been one of the Dolphins' strengths over the last several seasons, but it slipped a little in 2003. The Dolphins finished second in the NFL in pass defense in 2004, so it was obvious the defensive backs rebounded, in particular Sam Madison. But it must be pointed out that opponents also didn't throw against the Dolphins as much in 2004 because the Dolphins often self-destructed on offense and also because teams had so much success running against Miami. Because teams didn't throw as often, they didn't have as many chances to come up with turnovers, so the interception numbers were down. Still, it was a pretty good effort by the secondary.
Sam Madison: Madison finished the season without an interception, but don't use that as a gauge for his performance because he was very good all year. In fact, he probably was the team's best defensive back in 2004.
Patrick Surtain: Surtain is firmly established as one of the top corners in the NFL, but he truthfully didn't have one of his better years in 2004. Perhaps it was a training camp injury that lingered or perhaps it was because of his contract situation, but Surtain was beat much more frequently than he had in recent years. Having said that, it still was a solid effort.
Sammy Knight: The veteran strong safety didn't do a whole lot in the early part of the season, but he really came on toward the end.
Arturo Freeman: For the second straight year, Freeman started the season as a backup after coming in thinking he would be a starter. This time it was Antuan Edwards who beat him out, but Freeman was back in the lineup after Edwards was released. When he played, Freeman probably did his best work in a Dolphins uniform.
Will Poole: The rookie fourth-round pick was a star in training camp and held his own as the dime back. That's not to say he was perfect because he looked like a rookie at times.
Reggie Howard: Howard was OK as the nickel back, but just OK wasn't good enough for the kind of money the Dolphins paid him as a free agent.
Yeremiah Bell: The Dolphins are really high on this guy, which is why they made sure they get him in the lineup after Jim Bates replaced Dave Wannstedt as head coach. Unfortunately, Bell went down with a broken leg, the third straight year his season ended because of an injury.
Jimmy Wyrick: He was almost exclusively used on special teams.
As with the linebacking corps, there is a lot of uncertainty with this group. A lot. You have heard all the suggestions that Surtain could be traded because he has only one year left on his contract and because the Dolphins need to build their offense. Madison is a candidate to be asked to take a pay cut or be released. Freeman is in the same boat. Knight is an unrestricted free agent who is probably less than 50-50 as far as returning. That leaves as the only sure things for 2005 cornerback Will Poole and cornerback Reggie Howard. You can add safety Yeremiah Bell, but only he can shake the injury bug.