If you watch the replay of Monday night’s game against the New York Jets, you will notice player after playing missing tackles everywhere on the field. In fact, there was one play where Jets running back Chris Johnson was juking players left and right while making them miss as he ran down the field for a huge gain.
Why have the Miami Dolphins suddenly become a poor tackling team? Joe Philbin says that it all comes down to fundamentals and it’s clear to see on tape.
“Sure, we have to tackle better. This game is not overly complicated. If you can run the ball that effectively, they are going to continue to do that. We have to improve, without a doubt. When you watch the tape a couple of instances, it’s not every single time we go to tackle, but it’s just some of the basic fundamentals have been missing at times, whether a guy leaves his feet when he doesn’t have to, maybe he doesn’t wrap up when he should wrap up with his arms. Maybe he doesn’t accelerate his feet on contact. There are a lot of different things that have shown up, and usually as is always the case, it’s never necessarily one thing. It’s not every single play obviously because we had some fine tackles out there. But we spent a little time on it last week, and we will continue to address it and work on it. It’s one of the core fundamentals of football that we all know.”
Kevin Coyle expressed the same sentiments as Philbin and noted that a big point of emphasis this week will be getting back to the basics, even if that means dumbing down the steps of how to properly tackle.
“Usually missed tackling comes from fundamentals and being able to gather yourself, get under control and take the proper angle. We missed some yesterday in space. Again, you’re talking about a guy like Chris Johnson who is one of the faster backs in the league, he can start and stop, he’s an elusive guy. He hit that hole, he made a couple of guys miss and was off to the races there. But we’ve just got to continue to work on it. We worked last week. We tackled as an entire team last week. We tackled when we had our pads on in drills and we’re going to continue to do that and hopefully do a better job.”
On Tuesday, Philbin spoke with the media members who cover the Baltimore Ravens and said that fixing the tackling issues will be one of their biggest priorities this week, especially with the Ravens coming to town.
“I think we have to tackle better. Football is still a game of blocking and tackling. It’s still a fundamental game. I think the number one thing, if you look at the longest run they broke out on us last night, I think (the Jets) had a 47-yard run. I think Chris Johnson made three or four people miss. You have to get guys on the ground. Again, they are going to gain some yards. This is a good team, Baltimore. It’s a good runner and a good offensive line. At the end of the day, to play good run defense you have to tackle.”
The Dolphins will certainly need to do better as Sunday’s game is a must-win if they want to stay alive for the playoff race. While a loss won’t mathematically eliminate them, it will put them in a deep hole when you start talking about tiebreakers and such for the fifth and sixth wild-card spots.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs