Clearly, the Miami Dolphins are in desperate need of a makeover on the offensive side of the ball, the stat sheet is proof enough. But don't think that the defense, who surprised almost all of us last year (for the better) under Mike Nolan, doesn't need some work.
The Dolphins had an impressive year stopping the run, finishing 7th overall, (thanks to Paul Soliai, who mentioned by Mosul_DolFan, had a breakout year) and finished 8th overall in passing yards per game. Unfortunately the corners and safeties dropped about 12 game changing interceptions. The Dolphins finished out the year at 14th in points per game (21) which obviously needs improvement if this defense wants to live up to their potential.
Some areas of the defense still need a little tweaking, hopefully these stats will help you notice some of the issues on the back-end:
1. Sean Smith: who played 661 snap at cornerback after losing his starting spot for the first half of the season, was graded out by ProFootballFocus.com as the No. 8 cornerback in the NFL. Only 26 cornerbacks had a lower percentage of passes completed against them than Smith, who allowed 24 of 44 passes to get caught for 325 and one touchdown. Smith played 105 snaps as a safety in Dolphins’ cover-6 package and 10 of 13 pass thrown his way were completed for 107 yards. Smith makes the argument he was in zone coverage in many of those cover-6 snap, so that’s not an accurate account.
2. Vontae Davis: checks in as the No. 14 cornerback in the NFL. He’s the 13th best at defending rushes coming his way. He was tied for sixth in terms of grading out with the fewest penalties.
Last season Davis was rated by PFF as the NFL’s 27th CB, and Smith was 28, so they clearly improved from their rookie season. The question is can they take their career to the next level, pulling down interceptions and being trusted to defend some of the NFL’s best receivers one-on-one like a Darrelle Revis can? Receivers averaged 11.8 yards per reception against Davis, who gave up 241 yards after the catch.
BOUNDARY and NICKEL CORNERBACKS:
3. Nolan Carroll: played 79 snaps as a boundary cornerback in 2010, checks in at No. 41 out of ALL 211 cornerbacks who played in 2010. Carroll, who made one tackle, one interception, and broke up one pass in ‘10, allowed 3 of 8 passes thrown his way to get caught (30 yards).
4. Nate Ness: took nine snaps for the Dolphins as the boundary cornerback this season, and the one pass thrown his way wasn’t completed.
5. Benny Sapp: played 606 snaps, checks in at No. 59 amongst player who have played at least 25 percent of snaps. Sapp had 35 of 60 passes completed on him in 2010. He gave up 456 passing yards (186 YAC) and two touchdown, but had two interceptions. Only 21 cornerbacks had worse coverage metrics than Sapp (-5.2), who plays a very tough spot. And coincidentally, most with low ratings belong to nickel cornerbacks, who usually defense the slot receiver who is on the move. Nate Jones was No 47 last year as a nickel, but he was 5 spots ahead of Sapp, who allowed 40 of 57 passes for 428 (2 TDs) while in Minnesota.
6. Will Allen: was rated the NFL’s 32nd best cornerback. Only 21 cornerbacks had better coverage (4.1) metrics. It’ll be interesting to see if the Dolphins opt to bring Allen or Sapp back to man the nickel spot. Both are under contract, but Sapp is a cheaper option.
Now let's move on to the safety spot, where i think some of the problems lie.
1. Yeremiah Bell: Bell checks in as the No. 8 safety in the NFL. Bell finished 2010 with 101 tackles, making this the third straight season he’s registered 100 or more stops for the Dolphins. Bell had positive metrics in every area, but his pass coverage (0.1) was tied with Steelers safety Ryan Clark, whom the Dolphins tried to acquire last offseason, for 55th amongst safeties. Bell allowed 31 of the 44 passes thrown at his defended target to be caught, allowing 297 (126 YAC) yards and one touchdown.
2. Chris Clemons: Dolphins free safety and Bell's partner, was rated at 61 in terms of NFL safety's who played more than 25% of their snaps. Ranked No. 153 of all safety's who played in 2010.
3. Reshad Jones: played in 153 snaps, is tied for 24th in terms of every safety, out of 185, who played in 2010. Jones, who contributed 14 tackles, one sack and one interception in 2010, allowed 5 of 10 passes thrown at him in coverage to be completed.
4. Tyrone Culver: played 123 snaps at safety in 2010, allowed 4 of 6 pass thrown to his man to be completed for 42 yards.
What's your opinion on these stats?