The Miami Dolphins opened training camp this past week, and there’s a lot of buzz and excitement surrounding the team. What’s not to be excited about with all the Dolphins’ moves on offense? They acquired Tyreek Hill and Terron Armstead. New head coach Mike McDaniel is bringing a structure and new leadership to the offense, which was lacking under Brian Flores. General Manager Chris Grier has done a horrible job bringing in offensive players to surround quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, but this off-season, that changed.
However, one thing I’m going to watch this season is the defense because the Dolphins brought back most of the players and coaches from 2021, including defensive coordinator Josh Boyer. The Dolphins’ defense has carried the team the last two years and is the main reason they have had back-to-back winning seasons. The Dolphins started 1-7 last year, and the offense took a lot of the blame, but the defense didn’t play up to the standard they set the previous season.
The Dolphins struggled in the opener against the New England Patriots, who carved up the defense with crossing patterns and chunk runs, but the Patriots settled for field goals, and if it weren’t for a late fumble, would have won the game and the Dolphins would have been 0-8 to start. When the defense needed a stop in critical games against the Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons, and Jacksonville Jaguars, they gave up a play to lead to three one-score losses in the final seconds. They also struggled against the Indianapolis Colts in a game the Colts were down a number of key offensive players.
Things started to change when they started their 7-game winning streak against the Houston Texans. Then on a Thursday night game against the Baltimore Ravens, the defense played very inspiring against Lamar Jackson completely shutting down their offense. During that winning, it was noticed that Flores had a defensive play sheet and was reported he took over the defensive play calling. That might have been blown out of proportion and the defense will be OK with Boyer. If true, it will be worth watching how this team responds with Boyer.
One criticism of the Dolphins defense during the 7-game winning streak, was the team didn’t play any good quarterbacks and padded their stats against lesser quarterbacks, like Mike Glennon and Ian Book. This might be true, but the Buffalo Bills were ranked number 1 in defense last year, and they played the same teams as the Dolphins, and nobody criticized them for playing lesser quarterbacks. The Bills’ defense was a no-show in the playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, where they let them go 45 yards in 13 seconds to tie the game and ended up losing in overtime.
This year, the Dolphins will play Aaron Rodgers, Justin Herbert, and Joe Burrow. On top of that, Josh Allen twice, who has had the Dolphins’ number. The Dolphins have to play better against him if they want to have a chance in this division.
The Dolphins have some young talented players like Christian Wilkins, Jaelen Phillips, and Jevon Holland, who hopefully will continue to take the next step in their development. They also have superstar Xavien Howard in the secondary, and the return of Emmanuel Ogbah, who are the leaders of this defense. They need bounce-back years from Andrew Van Ginkel and Raekwon Davis both players weren’t bad but didn’t have the impact expected.
Ogbah said this defense has a chance to be scary and that might be true, but they have to show it right from the start. They need to impose their will and show they are a top-notch defense. If not, they’ll say Flores led this defense, not Boyer.