Written by Matthew Cannata | Twitter: @PhinManiacs
The linebacker unit for the Miami Dolphins is one that has been heavily criticized over the past year and a half for various reasons. However, defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle has a lot of confidence in not only his starters, but his back-ups as well as the linebacker position. In addition, he hinted that much of the criticism is overblown.
“I think (Misi) was in on about six hits in 23 plays or something of that nature. He was very active,” Coyle said. “I think Dannell (Ellerbe) is comfortable where he is. We’ve seen productivity out of Philip (Wheeler), both in defending the run and also pressuring the quarterback, as well as the backup guys. We’ve gotten a lot of cross-training done. We’ve added some depth by doing that throughout training camp and you have to see some of that as we get into the early part of the season.”
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will be playing on Sunday and Coyle recognizes how much of a mismatch he can present.
“Any of the big tight ends that you face, guys of that caliber that can create mismatches in man-to-man, body up against smaller defensive backs or even smaller linebackers becomes an issue,” Coyle said. “He’s also been a big target for them in the red zone. If he plays and how much he plays, we don’t know how much that will be, but that’s not going to change what we do.”
If the Dolphins want to have one of the top defenses in the league, the linebacker unit will need to improve from last year. They've made several changes in the group so we'll see if it translates to success on the field.