MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When the preseason got started for the Miami Dolphins, most assumed the defense would be solid enough to keep the team in games. Through two preseason games, the Fins defense looks like a shell of its former self.
Friday night’s game against Carolina saw the Panthers’ starters, led by quarterback Cam Newton, to do anything and everything they wanted to against Miami’s sieve of a defense. The Panthers offensive line consistently opened holes for the running game and Miami put zero pressure on Newton.
The Panthers outgained the Dolphins by a total of 390-296 yards and watched Carolina run out to a 20-7 lead at halftime. Carolina starting running back DeAngelo Williams carried the ball four times for 25 yards, or a little better than 6 yards per carry.
“We have a physical defense,” Fins defensive end Jared Odrick told CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald. “You’ve seen it last year. It’s something we need to bring out of ourselves.”
According to the Herald, the Dolphins’ starting defense has given up points in five of the six possessions it has been on the field in the preseason. Four of the six scores from opponents against the starters have been touchdowns.
Part of the problem the Dolphins are facing in 2012 is they are installing a 4-3 defense with 3-4 defensive players, essentially a square peg in a round hole. While some players can make the transition, notably Cameron Wake, Karlos Dansby and the defensive tackles, others are struggling.
Fins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle has been tasked with the transition and must try to turn Jared Odrick, a 3-4 defensive end into a 4-3 rush defensive end. So far, as evidenced by the Carolina game, the defense has a lot of work to do.
Several times throughout the game against the Panthers, the defense couldn’t set the edge at the line of scrimmage and Panthers offensive players were running free through the Dolphins defense.
The one thing the Dolphins don’t have much of is star power. Outside of Wake and Dansby, the defense is full of a lot of unknowns trying to make a name for themselves in the league. But if they don’t want the reputation of being a weak unit, Coyle has quite a job ahead of himself.
“We’re not a defense that’s going to be loaded with superstars,” Coyle told the Herald. “We’re going to have a bunch of guys that do their job at a high, high level each and every day.”