Reporting Tim Kephart
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DAVIE (CBSMiami) – The one area the Miami Dolphins were hoping would be solid in the upcoming season is the defense. The Fins have switched defensive philosophies from the 3-4 to the 4-3 under new coordinator Kevin Coyle and there’s little room for error in a stacked AFC East.
“It’s a work in progress,” Coyle said. “It’s not close to what it has to be, but this group of guys has really bought into what we are trying to do and every day we see glimpses of how good they can be if they continue to work the technique we are encouraging and coaching them to do each and every day.”
Most of the front seven of the Fins defense will be switching positions. Nose tackle Paul Soliai will now have Randy Starks behind him to help push the interior of the opponents’ offensive line. Jared Odrick will now be asked to add more of a pass rush on the outside as a defensive end.
Odrick was listed as a defensive end under the 3-4 scheme, but now kicks outside with two defensive tackles in the game under a 4-3 defense. Even stud pass rusher Cameron Wake will switch from outside linebacker to defensive end, where he’s expected to continue to go after the quarterback.
“I think that they are embracing it, and for some of them, it lends to their skill sets, maybe a little better, but not necessarily,” Coyle said. “They played darn good defense a year ago in the 3-4, and as I told you guys in the beginning, there weren’t that many true 3-4 snaps. So there are elements of what we did here a year ago that we are incorporating and that we will continue to incorporate as the year goes on. But I think the transition has been great.”
One of the Dolphins’ main problems in recent years has been the lack of turnovers the Fins defense produced. The Fins finished 23rd in the league turnover margin and were ranked 27th in takeaways per game, according to teamrankings.com.
“We got to get more interceptions, we left a couple out there today (Monday), but we got our hands on the ball,” Coyle said. “We are constantly trying to work on the strip aspect of things in the fact that we are not taking the ball carriers to the ground. So the first guys will go in there and hold him up and the next two, three or four, we want those guys working on one thing, and that’s locating the ball.”
Coyle also singled out one player who will have to up his game in the coming weeks to adjust to the new scheme.
“Probably Koa Misi playing off the ball at the Sam linebacker spot when he is out, off the line of scrimmage,” Coyle said. “But he is improving every day and we are excited about his progress.”