Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – Two games into the NFL season, the Miami Dolphins defense looks to be a shell of its 2010 self. While the season is still young, it may be the start of a disturbing trend that’s happened before under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
Nolan was the defensive coordinator in Denver in 2009 and his defense came out firing on all cylinders. The Broncos defense was giving up just 11 points and 263 total yards per game through the first six games, all of which the Broncos won.
Then, after an off-week, the wheels of the defense came off completely. The once-vaunted defense gave up 26 points and 347 yards per game through the rest of the season. The Broncos finished the last ten games with a 2-8 record.
Injuries and a struggling offense contributed to the rapid decline, but opposing offense seemed to figure out Nolan’s defense as the season went on. Nolan’s defense also buckled under the pressure of the top quarterbacks in the league in ’09.
Nolan’s defense was torched by Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, and Joe Flacco during his defense’s collapse in the second half of the season.
Nolan then joined the Dolphins in 2010 and proceeded to put up a great season with his defense ranked 14th in points allowed and sixth in yards allowed.
Still, the Fins defense struggled against the best quarterbacks including Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, and Jay Cutler.
Now, the Fins are faced with an even tougher schedule as Nolan tries to get in front of the defensive struggles that are dooming the Fins every week. Plus, the schedule is not going to get any easier for the Fins.
The team hits the road for five of their next seven games. In those games, the Fins defense faces quarterbacks Philip Rivers, Mark Sanchez, Eli Manning, and Kyle Orton.
So far this season, the Dolphins have given up 362 yards per game in the air, and are giving up 122 yards on the ground. Making matters worse, the Fins secondary is allowing opponents to complete nearly 70 percent of their passes through the first two games.
While the Fins offense has been the stuff nightmares have been made of in recent years; in 2011, the defense is upping the ante as fans continue to refuse to go to home games if the Fins can’t pull out more than a 1-11 home record since 2009.
Nolan bought a lot of patience from fans after the defense held the team together last season. But, fans focus on w’s and if the Fins don’t start putting them up, fans will turn on everyone, including Nolan.