Written by Steven Wilson | Twitter: stevenjwilson11
Standing 5-feet, 10-inches tall, Dolphins corner Cortland Finnegan will need every inch he can get come Sunday.
No. 24, along with Brent Grimes, Jimmy Wilson and safeties Reshad Jones and Louis Delmas, will have the difficult task of trying to shut down two of the best receivers in the NFL this Sunday as they head to Soldier Field to face the Chicago Bears.
“They’re big,” said Finnegan. “Unless we sign Luol Deng – he just signed with the (Miami) Heat – we’re 5’10, so we’ve just got to deal with it.”
Through five games this year, Finnegan’s receivers have been targeted 24 times. While he has allowed 17 receptions for 183 yards, he hasn’t allowed a score and he’s performed well compared to his League counterparts. In contrast, Dallas’ Brandon Carr has also allowed 17 receptions, but for 279 yards and a touchdown.
“I think you have to pick and choose when you have to do things,” the North Carolina native admitted. “When you want to press [big receivers], try to get them off of the mark, what the defense allows. I think where they pose a serious problem – they do all over the field – is in the red zone, [jumping for the] high point of the ball, both [Marshall and Jeffery] can do that extremely well.”
Regardless of his height, Finnegan hopes his technique will pay dividends against the larger wideouts.
“You’ve got to play through the hands and you may not be able to get the read on the quarterback that you’d like to and playing man-to-man, [you just have to] play through him,” the ninth-year pro said. “There are some difficulties. Both of those guys are special [as is] the quarterback. We’ve got a tough day ahead of us.”
Miami’s Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle echoed his corner’s sentiments, giving credit to the fight his team has displayed so far this year.
“Unless we sign a couple of guys from the (Miami) Heat, we probably are going to have a size discrepancy there,” he joked. “But hey, our guys battle against big guys all of the time. It’s not the first time that Brent Grimes or Cortland Finnegan or any of our guys will have played against tall receivers. We’ll have to do our best to defend them, but that’s part of the deal.”
The Dolphins defense will also have to prepare to slow down one of the most versatile and consistent running backs in the game in Matt Forte.
Although he’s slowed down with age, the 28-year-old back is still averaging four yards per carry and 8.2 yards per reception. Furthermore, the Bears leading rusher (339 yards) rarely coughs up the ball – he has only fumbled once this year and 12 times in his entire career.
“(Matt) Forte is their workhorse, he leads the NFL in receptions and then they’ve got two playmakers on the outside,” Finnegan said. “We’ve got to be on our A-game. Myself, I’ve got to tackle better. Overall, we’ve got to sound some things up, but I think that’s what practice is for, that’s what the challenge is for. They’re a good offense, so we look forward to that.”
Fresh off a rough loss to another high-powered offense, Dolphins players have to move on from last Sunday’s last-second defeat to the Packers.
“It’s tough,” Finnegan admitted. “I think when you had a good team right where you [wanted] them, it’s tough, but it’s the 24-hour rule. I think the Chicago Bears don’t give a rip what happened against the Green Bay Packers. So we’ve got to go out there and give them our best.”