Miami Dolphins

Dolphins defensive woes run deeper than poor play at cornerback

Photo by Allen Eyestone/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire


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The sight of Byron Maxwell getting lost in coverage on what proved to be a 50-yard touchdown pass against the Eagles last week has the Miami Dolphins contemplating a change at cornerback.

Given what we’ve seen of the rest of the defense under new coordinator Matt Burke this preseason, the Dolphins might want to consider making a change at a few other spots as well.

After all, the, a quick glance at the difficulties the Dolphins have experienced defensively so far this preseason suggests there is a lot more than just some poor play at cornerback at the root of the problem.

For example, in the midst of surrendering 21 points to the Eagles in their 38-31 loss last Thursday, the Dolphins first-team defense gave up a six-play 53-yard touchdown drive that was engineered by Matt McGloin.

McGloin is the Eagles third-string quarterback but he did wonders against the Dolphins first-team defense while working mostly with second-team players by completing 9-of-10 passes for 84 yards in the first half.

McGloin, of course, was just the latest in a line of quarterbacks who have lit up the Dolphins this preseason. Carson Wentz preceded McCloin for the Eagles and completed 6-of-10 passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns.

To be fair, McGloin was intercepted once, by Lawrence Timmons, in that first half, and Wentz was sacked once, but Wentz still finished up his stint with a 104.2 passer rating.

It’s been like this from the start, when Falcons quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub split the reps against Miami’s first-team defense in the first quarter of the first exhibition game and were a combined 5-for-5 for 52 yards, a touchdown and a 149.5 passer rating.

And it’s not like the Dolphins are getting the job done against the run either. Though they’re only giving up an average of 3.6 yards per carry so far, they’re allowing an average of 135.3 yards per game, fourth most in the league.

This after the Dolphins ranked 30th in the league in rush defense a year ago, when opponents gashed them for 4.8 yards per carry and a 140.4 yards per game while Vance Joseph was in charge.

The biggest problem appears to be an inability to get off the field on third down, where the Dolphins have so far allowed opponents to convert 26 of their 52 tries, or 50-percent.

The Dolphins can’t even seem to get off the field on fourth down just yet. They’ve allowed their opponents to convert three of their five attempts in those situations so far this preseason.

The last two figures are not exclusive to the first-team defense. They’re for the entire defense as a whole, but it speaks to the bigger issue and that issue is quite a simple one.

While it’s still a bit too soon to be worried about what lies ahead for this Dolphins, all the signs along the road so far suggest there may indeed be danger dead ahead.

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