Major Downer on Defense

Heading into the regular season, the defense was supposed to be the last of the Dolphins' worries. We expeced the offense to need some time to come together, but the thought was that the defense could win some games until that happened. It didn't happen against Washington on Sunday; in fact, the defense was the unit that dropped the ball against the Redskins.

Watching Washington's overtime drive, when the Redskins went from their own 20 to the Dolphins 22 to set up the game-winning field goal, was dreadful to watch.

It reminded us of the bad defenses of yesteryear when the Dolphins couldn't stop the run. That overtime drive covered 58 yards, 46 of which came on runs.

There was a 14-yard run by Clinton Portis on second-and-4, a 10-yard run by Ladell Betts on first-and-10 and a 9-yard run by Portis on third-and-4 from the Miami 31-yard line.

Yuck. That was some bad defense right there.

Again, this is supposed to be the Dolphins' strength. It didn't even give the offense a chance to win the game in overtime.

The defense is filled with big names -- Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas, Joey Porter, Vonnie Holliday, Keith Traylor, and so on. The first three came up with a big play at one point, but they were handled by the Washington offensive linemen, tight ends and backs most of the day. Holliday and Traylor were invisible, although Traylor can be somewhat excused because he's usually taking on two blockers.

But, really, where was the great defense the Dolphins are supposed to have?

The biggest plays were made by the secondary -- interceptions by Renaldo Hill and Travis Daniels -- the area that's supposed to be the weakness.

The pass rush got two sacks, but it really was nonexistent most of the day. The run defense, we've already addressed.

Yes, it's only one game and maybe the defense just had a bad day at the office. But this was the opener when everybody is supposed to be pumped up and defenses are supposed to be ahead of offenses anyway.

The Dolphins ended up allowing 400 total yards on the day, and this was against a mediocre Washington offense.

And here's the scary part: That total, along with the Redskins' point total, would have been higher had QB Jason Campbell not missed a couple of wide open receivers and Redskins receivers hadn't dropped a couple of easy passes downfield.

The Dolphins offense? It was about what you'd expect, some ups, some downs, some encouraging signs.

The good news was Chris Chambers getting open all game and Jesse Chatman being a big factor in the passing game out of the backfield. But the running game went nowhere.

That the offense would struggle to put up big numbers wasn't unexpected. The defense having major problems with the Washington offense was.

That's what made this opener particularly troubling.

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Alain Poupart is the Associate Editor of Dolphin Digest and To read him every day, visit and become a Miami Dolphins insider.