Behind Enemy Lines: Dolphins, Part II

Viking Update continues its inquiry of the Dolphins with Dolphin Digest associate editor Alain Poupart. In part two, we focus on a few Vikings-Dolphins connections, like Rick Spielman, Keith Newman and Toniu Fonoti, along with questions about the Miami defense.

TY: How is/was Rick Spielman viewed by Dolphins fans?

AP:
Almost as badly as Dave Wannstedt, and that's saying quite a lot. Actually, just because he was brought in by Wannstedt makes him a bad guy from the start. And, really, the Wannstedt/Spielman track record of personnel moves during their time just isn't impressive in the least. So let's just say they won't be throwing parties for Spielman in Miami anytime soon.

TY: After a bad start, what has been the difference for the Dolphins in beating Chicago and Kansas City in the last two weeks?

AP:
I think the biggest thing is the secondary has played great, without that one or two really costly breakdowns. That, incidentally, came after the Dolphins moved Yeremiah Bell into the starting lineup at strong safety and benched Travares Tillman. The offensive line also has continued the steady progress it has made since L.J. Shelton went from left tackle to right guard, switching places with Damion McIntosh.

TY: The Dolphins have the second-ranked defense overall – fourth against the pass and 12th against the run – so where is the weakness?

AP:
Again, before the last two weeks it was in the secondary, which always could be counted on to give up one long pass play or get called for pass interference or defensive holding at a key juncture. But, like I said, that didn't happen the last two weeks and the Dolphins shut down both Chicago and Kansas City.

TY: If defense and a strong running game win championships, why are the Dolphins 3-6 this year?

AP:
Because the running game wasn't that strong early on (partly because they didn't run enough) and because the defense wasn't as good as its statistical ranking because of the reasons mentioned above. It also seemed like in the first seven games the Dolphins had a knack for doing just what was necessary to always find a way to lose.

TY: Linebacker Keith Newman and guard Toniu Fonoti were both with the Vikings last year. Have they made much of a contribution this season?

AP:
Very little and none. Newman has barely seen the field on defense, with his contributions limited to special teams. As for Fonoti, he was signed last week after a tryout and was inactive against Kansas City on Sunday. He may see some action sooner rather than later, though, because the Dolphins have lost starting guard Jeno James to a knee injury for at least a couple of weeks.

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