Behind Enemy Lines: Patriots - Dolphins II

To find out more about the Patriots' opponent this week, the Miami Dolphins, we checked in with Asst Editor Alain Poupart. In Part 2 of this multi-part series, we take a look at the Dolphins' defense.

Alain Poupart of Dolphin Digest addresses questions posed to him about the Dolphins leading up to their Week 9 matchup against the Patriots. Part 2 of this multi-part series. See Part 1 - Offense


1. How big of a loss is it when Channing Crowder isn’t on the field?

Alain Poupart: Really not that much, to be honest. Veteran Reggie Torbor started in place of Crowder last Sunday against the Jets and he did a pretty solid job. Crowder is good against the run, but he doesn't make any impact plays, whereas Torbor got a pick against New Orleans two Sundays ago. Torbor had seven tackles against the Jets last Sunday, and New York averaged 3.2 yards per carry, so Crowder obviously wasn't missed that much.

2. Jason Taylor said he almost joined the Patriots, but preferred Miami. How big of a factor has he been?

AP: Taylor has been very solid against the run and he leads the team with 5.5 sacks. Against the Saints, he had two sacks where he also caused fumbles, which is vintage Jason Taylor. The Dolphins have been good against the run all year, and Taylor has played his part in that as well. Look, he's not having the kind of impact he might have had in 2006 when he was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, but there's no doubt he's turned in a quality season so far.

3. Who are the biggest playmakers opponents have to account for on the Dolphins defense?

AP: Taylor is the first guy who would jump out, but lately the Dolphins' best defensive player has been end Randy Starks. In his first year as a starter in Miami, Starks has been a force against the run and he's also second on the team with 3.5 sacks. He made two huge plays on the Dolphins' game-clinching defensive stand against the Jets last Sunday, including a sack on third down that put the Jets in a fourth-and-13 hole.

4. The Dolphins are working with young corners. How have they held up in the passing game?

AP: Sean Smith and Vontae Davis have only started one game together because veteran Will Allen went down in the New Orleans game, but the pass defense has been a problem all year long. Free safety Gibril Wilson, signed in the offseason after he was released by Oakland, has been a major disappointment and he's been replaced in the starting lineup by yet another rookie, fifth-round pick Chris Clemons. Big plays have hurt the Dolphins all year and they also have had major problems covering tight ends. Talking about Smith and Davis specifically, both have shown great promise. Smith is tremendous in coverage and he's come close to getting an interception a few times. Davis, meanwhile, is as good a tackling cornerback as you'll ever see.


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