Written by Matthew Cannata at 9:30 AM EST | Twitter: @PhinManiacs
The Miami Dolphins defense is both underrated and one of the best units in the NFL. While they have been gaining national media attention slowly each week, they still haven’t lost focus on their task at hand. One of the reasons for that is because of Kevin Coyle, who puts the defense in the best position to succeed and builds his system to the strength of his players.
One of those players is Brent Grimes and this year, he’s only shadowed a receiver once and that was in the game against the Packers when he followed Jordy Nelson. Will he do that on Sunday against Calvin Johnson or will he stay where he is the entire game?
“I think, when you play on one side of the ball, you get really comfortable seeing everything, planting a certain way, coming out of your breaks a certain way, just your vision into the quarterback. Brent is one of those kinds of guys,” Coyle said. “You put him out in the playground and it doesn’t matter if he’s on the left or on the right, he’s just going to go out there and cover whoever you ask him to cover. I think he’s capable of doing it. I think Cortland (Finnegan) has been the same way, they’ve got versatility. We’re still in the evaluation process as to what we’re going to end up doing schematically this week. We’re going to try to get our guys in the best position we can.”
Coyle’s philosophy so far this year is to keep the big plays from happening, which is why we’ve noticed the cornerbacks giving some cushion to the wide receivers on almost every play. This isn’t by mistake and Coyle said it all comes down to execution once the defense is set.
“It all comes down to tackling and, generally speaking, I put a lot of onus on our safeties being sure tacklers. I think having Reshad (Jones) and having Louis (Delmas) back there certainly gives us a pair of very, very good tacklers and, usually if all things break down, we say this all of the time to our players, if we’re in a zone defense and guys get blocked, guys slip, guys get cut, whatever, that we still should be able to contain the run by virtue of having deep cover people that do the right thing. If you’re in man-to-man and you get hit with a certain run sometimes where guys don’t see the ball, they’re running with someone, it can be a different story. But we don’t make any excuses, if we’re in zone, we don’t expect them to ever break a long run against us.”
Delmas, who has been a big surprise for the Dolphins this season, has been a force in the secondary and has helped stabilize the defense in every game.
“His toughness, his coachability, he wants to do well,” Coyle said. “He’s hungry to prove himself. We had concerns when he got here with the fact that he’s had some injury history. But he has not missed a thing. He’s been out here every day, even when he’s a little banged up, like a lot of them are at this point in the season. He just comes to work and doesn’t complain. He just has that energy that you love. I think it’s contagious with the rest of the guys.”
The defense will have another test on Sunday but knowing them, they’re up to the task and challenge and will be looking forward to proving themselves once again.