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With the Dolphins coming off of their bye week, there isn't any red zone offense to discuss here this week. So I thought we could take a trip back through the first five weeks of the season and talk quickly about how the Dolphins are performing on defense inside the red zone.
So when I started breaking down the red zone performance by Miami's defense game by game, I noticed that they haven't played half bad. They were one of the better red zone defenses last year and some of that has carried over. The Dolphins are allowing touchdowns on 50% of their opponent's red zone trips - not a particularly bad number at all. In fact, over their last three games, the Dolphins are allowing touchdowns on just 41% of opponent's red zone trips. Again - that's rather impressive.
But then I looked a little deeper and noticed a disturbing statistic. The Dolphins are only giving up 301 yards per game to opposing offenses - which is 10th in the NFL. But that figure is rather high considering the time of possession differential the Dolphins have been able to achieve during their first five games. In fact, their 5.6 yards allowed per play is 24th in the league. Even more disturbing, the Dolphins have let opposing offenses reach the red zone on 18 of their opponent's 50 total possessions. That means that more than one-third of the oppositions total drives penetrate inside of Miami's 20 yard line.
Does that worry anybody else?
Upon doing more research, I found that the Dolphins rank 23rd in the NFL in yards allowed per drive - surrendering 31.12 yards per possession. That might not seem like a terrible amount, but it is - especially considering how the Dolphins are not exactly very good on special teams, meaning offenses generally have good starting field position against Miami.
The bottom line here is that while it's great that the Dolphins can keep opponents out of the endzone on half of their trips inside the 20, this defense has to do a better job of getting off the field and preventing teams from penetrating that far down the field. Eventually, the numbers are going to catch up with them and the Dolphins will start allowing more and more touchdowns.