Though they were all a bit bleary-eyed from a lack of sleep, Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke ordered his entire defense to come together last Tuesday afternoon for video review of the 45-21 loss they suffered at the hands of the Panthers the night before.
The gathering was for mostly for instructional purposes, of course, but there was symbolism in it as well.
A defense that all but carried the Dolphins through the first quarter of the season has clearly fallen apart in recent weeks and we don’t just mean that in a figurative sense. As the 126 points allowed over that span suggests, this is a defense that has fallen apart literally as well.
Burke admitted as much on Thursday when he said that a “disconnect’’ has been at the heart of the defense’s recent struggles.
“To be honest I felt that on Monday night and possibly even during the last couple of weeks, there has been a little disconnect between the different levels,’’ Burke said. “That’s why I felt it was important for everybody to be in there together and talking it out.
“I didn’t feel like the communication (has been) there the way it needs to be. I don’t feel like the understanding of how the front fits with the linebackers and the coverage on the back end fits with the linebackers and that sort of thing (is where it needs to be).
“So I felt it was important this week to take most of the meeting together and we all own that. I told those guys and put all the stats up on the board and none of them are pretty. Not a single one. I said, ‘We own this together. Every single man in this room has a piece of this.’’’
Dolphins coach Adam Gase hinted that such a problem might have crept up with his defense earlier this week when he said players were beginning to overcompensate for mistakes made by others and that the key to getting back on track was for everyone to simply do his job.
Gase reiterated that point on Thursday, emphasizing that it’s “a group deal’’ on defense and that the Dolphins defenders have to get back to the point they were at earlier in the year when they were clearly trusting each other to their job and do it right. Burke, though, too, the whole exercise a step further.
“I just felt like everyone needed to sit in the room together and understand how we’re all fitting together or how we’re all not fitting together,’’ Burke said. “We’ve pretty much spent the whole meeting together this week.’’
All that’s left now is to see how together they’ll be on the field on Sunday.