Coverage Concerns

The Dolphins defense is coming off a good performance against the Giants and now gets to face a mediocre Buffalo offense. Vonnie Holliday should be back and there's a possibility Zach Thomas could return as well, even though he has yet to get medical clearance. So there's reason to hope the Dolphins can shut down the Bills. But what about special teams?

To quote Geena Davis from the movie "The Fly," "Be afraid, be very afraid."

The Dolphins, to put it very mildly, have been very poor when it comes to covering kickoffs and in Buffalo they will face one of the best special teams groups in the league.

The Dolphins already have given up two touchdowns on kickoff returns this season, to Leon Washington of the Jets and to Willie Andrews of the Patriots. And in Terrence McGee, the Dolphins will be facing one of the best kickoff returners in the league.

McGee already has been to the Pro Bowl as a kickoff returner. That occurred in 2004, the same season McGee opened a game at Dolphin Stadium with a kickoff return for a touchdown.

Obviously, this has to be a major concern for the Dolphins this Sunday.

Truth is, covering kickoffs has been a concern all season.

"We've had some young guys that have learned on the run and we've given up some gaps," said Coach Cam Cameron. "But the bottom line is we've got to get down, we've got to get off blocks, and we've got to tackle better. It's nothing more than that. We've had opportunities. We've got people in positions to make plays and they've got to continue to get off blocks and make tackles. That's what's gotten us so far."

The Dolphins' problems in covering kickoffs has been magnified because the Dolphins have yet to break a long kickoff return themselves -- their long this season was a 52-yard effort by Ted Ginn Jr.

The Dolphins also have to be concerned about containing punt returner Roscoe Parrish, the former University of Miami star who took one all the way in the opener against Denver.

That also won't be easy, but it most be done.

It's bad enough that the Dolphins more often than not have lost the battle on offense and defense, they sure can't afford to lose on special teams.

Unfortunately, that's just what happened in the game against the Jets when the Dolphins badly outplayed New York but lost because of Washington's kickoff return and a late touchdown in the second quarter that came after the Dolphins squib-kicked because of what Washington had done to them.

For the Dolphins to finally get in the win column, they're going to need for their special teams to not sabotage good efforts on offense and/or defense.

It certainly won't be easy against a Buffalo team that's always been dangerous on special teams.


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