Miami Dolphins introduced Vic Fangio as new defensive coordinator | Miami Herald

This is the training camp preview.  This will be the final part in the series.  Here, we will focus on Defense.  We will break down last year’s rankings, provide an overview of position groups, and discuss potential camp battles to watch for.

Defense, last year’s rankings

YPG: 337.8 (18th)

Passing: 234.8 (27th)

Rushing: 103 (4th)

PPG: 23.5 (24th)

Takeaways: 14 (30th)

Christian Wilkins

Defensive Line:

Christian Wilkins, Emmanuel Ogbah, Zach Sieler, Raekwon Davis, Randy Charlton, Anthony Montalvo, Josiah Bronson, Brandon Pili, Jaylen Twyman

Christian Wilkins heads the group.  He was absolutely phenomenal last season.  Wilkins led the league in run-stop win rate at 46%.  It clearly showed in the numbers above, with the team finishing 4th in rush defense.  Zach Sieler continues to impress as well.  Both are due new contracts, both should receive them, but that’s a story for another day.  Emmanuel Ogbah returns to anchor the edge.  His return only bolsters this defense.  Randy Charlton, Anthony Montalvo, and Brandon Pili are all rookies, while Jaylen Twyman is coming into his second season.  This group needs depth behind Raekwon Davis and Ogbah in the event of injuries.

Camp Battle:  Back up spot(s) behind the top 4.  As I just mentioned, this is an open competition for a job or two in camp.  Charlton has a legit chance if he can show out this summer as a backup to Ogbah, who is truly the only DE in the front.  Brandon Pili is a name to watch out for during camp.  If I were a betting man (I am), he would be my guess to make it as backup interior DL.  It should be a good battle to keep your eyes on during the preseason.

Dolphins position review on Bradley Chubb, Jaelan Phillips and outside linebackers | Miami Herald


Bradley Chubb, Jaelan Phillips, Channing Tindall, Andrew Van Ginkel, Duke Riley, Malik Reed, Mitchell Aguade, David Long Jr, Aubrey Miller, Cameron Goode, Jerome Baker, Garrett Nelson, Zeke Vandenburgh

The top end of this group, in my opinion, is elite.  Bradley Chubb came over mid-season and immediately impacted the defense.  Jaelan Phillips was the biggest benefactor of his arrival.  While the numbers didn’t show up immediately, Chubb was fantastic down the stretch while Phillips continued dominating. The Dolphins brought back Andrew Van Ginkel and Duke Riley in free agency while also adding in David Long Jr from the Titans and Malik Reed, who played under Vic Fangio in Denver.  Jerome Baker continues to be the lead dog in the room and is back again for another season.  Channing Tindall was more of a special teams guy but will look to build in year 2, with the potential to add depth to the defense.  Mitchell Aguade, Aubrey Miller, Cameron Goode, Garrett Nelson, and Zeke Vandenburgh will be vying for special teams/backup positions on the team.

Camp Battle:  5th and 6th rotational players.  To me, the top 4 are set with Chubb, Phillips, Baker, and Long Jr.  AVG, and Riley seems likely to take the next spots, but Malik Reed is a guy who can supplant one of those guys.  He has knowledge of the defense, whereas the other two have not until the spring.  He has a leg up. Can Malik Reed take one of their spots?


Xavien Howard, Jalen Ramsey, Kader Kohou, Trill Williams, Noah Igbinoghene, Justin Bethel, Cam Smith, Keion Crossen, Tino Ellis, Ethan Bonner, Bryce Thompson, Nik Needham, Elijah Campbell

This unit had a major boost with the addition of Jalen Ramsey.  If Howard can stay healthy, the outside is on lockdown.  In Vic Fangio’s system, the defense is designed to force turnovers, and there are no better corners to do that than Ramsey and Howard.  Kader Kohou became a household name with Dolphins fans with his strong play as an undrafted rookie, put into action due to Nik Needham’s injuries and Noah Igbinoghene’s incompetence.  Justin Bethel, who traditionally plays special teams, played a ton down the stretch, gained good experience, and is a valuable asset to the room.  Cam Smith, Miami’s first pick in the 2023 draft, looks to challenge for a starting role early on, while Trill Williams looks to build back from a strong summer prior to his ACL tear.  Bryce Thompson, Tino Ellis, Keion Crossen, Ethan Bonner, and Elijah Campbell will be battling for potential special team roles and depth spots.

Camp Battle:  Cam Smith vs. Nik Needham vs. Kader Kohou.  I am excited for the return of Needham.  He has been a steady prescience since 2019 and has been solid.  Can he return to form and hold off rookie Cam Smith and last year’s stand-out Kader Kohou?  I believe all will make the roster, BUT who is going to start in the slot on day 1?


Jevon Holland, Brandon Jones, DeShon Elliott, Verone McKinley III, Bennett Williams, Keidron Smith

Jevon Holland is becoming a household name and has the potential to be an all-pro in Vic Fangio’s defense.  Brandon Jones is working himself back from an ACL tear he suffered against the Steelers.  He is a viable asset as a pass rusher, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play in the box a ton this year.  Elliott comes over from the Lions and is a hard-hitting safety who may end up playing next to Holland.  McKinley has proven to be a good depth player.  Bennett Williams and Keidron Smith will have a ton of time in the preseason to show what they can do.

Camp Battle:  Brandon Jones vs DeShon Elliott.  Who is going to start next to Holland?  Is Brandon Jones 100% to compete at the start of camp?  That will be the biggest question and thing to watch when it comes to the safety spot.


Time to touch base on the biggest acquisition on defense this offseason.  Vic Fangio.  I have HIGH HOPES; this unit improves in pass defense.  Fangio is one of the best defensive minds in football and spent an entire offseason studying and working up new concepts.  The players seem very excited to what’s being implemented.  No more house blitz leaving guys out to dry in the secondary.  Opposing offenses will have to dissect what happens after the snap, as Fangio likes to line up the same way in just about every play.  This defense is poised for a massive jump, not only in turnovers but also in points allowed per game.  Hopefully, the defense hits the ground running and doesn’t have growing pains.

Thanks for reading our series leading up to training camp.  Be sure to check out every day during the summer for the latest updates from mini-camp and podcasts discussing all things Miami Dolphins.  #FinsUp!