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2 posts from June 2, 2014

June 02, 2014

Coyle defends his defense ... but facts

The new Dolphins offense is going to be more diverse. Today (one day) we saw motion, tight end screens, a reverse, a little read option -- and the Dolphins were only working in the red zone.

(And not one go or go-go heard all day).

So things are going to be interesting for the 2014 Miami offense, as has been well chronicled.

But the defense is undergoing changes of its own as well.

"We're always looking to improve," defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. "We take the offseason and study teams around the league. We look at ourselves. We look at ways we can be better and utilize personnel better.

"We'll do some different things come the Fall, but I'm not going to talk about them with you guys."

Well, some of the things the Dolphins are experimenting with are apparent. The team is giving Koa Misi the middle linebacker repetitions this offseason while Dannell Ellerbe is shifting to strongside linebacker. The experiment continues and has been something of a success in the offseason, but Coyle stops short of saying it will be what the Dolphins do in the regular season.

"Right now, I can't commit today that it's a done deal," Coyle said, "but certainly I like what we're seeing."

Coyle, speaking for the first time since the end of the 2013 season, made a prideful case for the quality of his defense.

"We have a great foundation that we've built here. We feel real strong about what we've done," he said. "The bottom line is if you ask any defensive coach or head coach or anybody that really understands football for that matter, the bottom line is keep the points off the board.

"We've been very good at that the last two years. We finished seventh in 2012, eighth in 2013. There's only been four teams in the league that have been in the top 8 --San Francisco, Cincinnati, Seattle and us. We've been third in the AFC for two consecutive years in scoring defense. So the bottom line is keeping people out of the end zone and giving yourself a chance to win." 

Those statistics that Coyle repeats are impressive. But here is what the coach is missing ...

The Miami defense was playoff caliber before Coyle arrived. Nothing against him. He's a good coach. He's a good man. But he's not a historian.

The problem is I'm partly a historian.

The truth is the same Dolphins defense that was No. 8 in scoring defense (20.9 points per game) in 2013, and No. 7 in scoring defense (19.8 PPG) in 2012, was No. 6 in scoring defense (19.6 PPG) in 2011. So, ahem, the defense was already built to high standards before Coyle arrived.

And that defense the past two years has gotten worse results, not better, if the standard is points allowed -- the statistic Coyle points to as the one football people think most important.

Also, the idea of talking of how great the defense is should recall two more things: On Nov. 15 of last year, the Dolphins lost to the Buffalo Bills. On Dec. 23 of last year, the Dolphins lost to the Buffalo Bills.

The Bills averaged 21 points in those two games. With Thad Lewis as their starting quarterback.


Coyle: Dolphins considered putting Jordan on IR

Everyone knows the Dolphins didn't get enough out of rookie Dion Jordan last season. The team wasn't happy with it. Jordan wasn't happy with it. Fans weren't happy with it.

It beats what might have happened.

That's because the Dolphins late during the 2013 training camp considered letting Jordan spend the entire season on injured reserve, according to defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle.

"We came very close during the preseason to have to make a decision whether or not we were going to try to redshirt Dion or know we were going to get limited snaps from him," Coyle said Monday after the Dolphins OTA practice.

"We had to make a decision whether to have him active for the year," Coyle said. "We talked about that late in the preseason in camp to make a determination whether we could get enough out of him. As it went, we wish we would have gotten more, but situationally, we knew where his strengths were and where he had not gotten enough work and so we didn't want to expose him nor the team."

Jordan played the fewest snaps of any defensive end on the active. He played less at the end of the year than even in the middle of the season. That was last year.

But this is a new year and "this is a different Dion," Coyle said. Jordan is up over 265 pounds. He's obviously involved in the offseason program.

And Coyle thinks the player drafted No. 3 overall a season ago is going to do great things this season. Like, really great things. 

"All the talk in the offseason that centered around he wasn't utilized, he didn't do that, we knew going into the year he hadn't had an offseason," Coyle said. "He was coming off of an injury. But it would be in the best interest of our team to have him, even for limited snaps. We made that decision. Certainly, Dion wished he had a bigger rookie season and so do we.

"But we have great expectations for Dion Jordan coming into this year. You cannot have enough great pass rushers and we feel with Dion at full speed we have a prime time player that's going to explode this season. "