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Is this Dolphins defense the real deal?

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The Falcons were a good barometer.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons
The Kiko Carry!
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The defense has been playing well all season, so far. Holding Phillip Rivers and Co. to 17 points, and Brees’ Saints to 20 points. The reigning NFL MVP and defending NFC champs were supposed to walk all over Miami. Some TV pundits did not even give guesses at the score because they didn’t want to “embarrass” the Dolphins. Miami was 12 point underdogs. They won. The defense pitched a second half shutout and held Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the rest of the Dirty Birds to just 17 total points. There is a lot to be excited about with this defense.

Number Three in Scoring Defense:

Miami is currently third in scoring defense. Last week they were fourth when I looked. They played the Falcons and improved their score. That, is impressive. Admittedly, there was some worry in the first half as the defense seemed to be out game planned and out matched, allowing 17 points before the half. Then came the second half dominance. Even in Miami’s worst moments they bend but don’t often break. And they have been tested by three of the leagues top QB’s, this defensive performance is no fluke.

Number Four in Rushing Defense:

Part of the reason the passing defense sees some inflated numbers is because the run defense has been absolutely stiflingly. Miami is averaging 80 yards per game allowed rushing. That is after the Falcon’s elite backfield combined for a rousing 100 yards rushing, 40+ in one play. Many were worried Miami had not done enough to fix it’s run stopping issues from last season. Well, Godchaux and Taylor are all playing up to snuff, so much so that the team didn’t notice the loss of Jordan Phillips for a couple weeks. Hayes has been playing lights out. Timmons has been a revelation. Maualuga is surprisingly serviceable. Even Kiko Alonso has been freed up to be a playmaker. Reshad Jones is a constant playmaking presence in the run and passing game, whom was sorely missed much of last season.

Number Twenty-two in Passing Defense:

Let’s face it... Byron Maxwell is a big part of this statistic. So too is having to play without Timmons or Maualuga the first couple of weeks. This isn’t all on the secondary. Our linebackers were picked apart by Rivers and by Josh McCown. I’m also not sure the play of Safety Nate Allen is doing anyone any favors. From the things some beat reporters are saying, the team is practically salivating for TJ McDonald to come off suspension. That is without even getting into the fact Miami is playing one of the youngest CB duo’s in the league. The arrow here is definitely pointing up for this statistic and for the DB group as a whole. With any amount of increase in offensive performance the defense should be on the field less.

Number Eleven in Total Yardage allowed Per Game:

When you combine the two categories above, Miami ranks just outside the top ten in the NFL with an average of 315.4 yards given up per game. That goes to confirm my thinking that Miami’s defense, even in it’s worst moments, is bending but not breaking. The overall scoring is still MUCH lower than the yardage allowance would typically dictate. With the arrow pointing up on the passing defense, this should continue to improve. (Barring any unforeseen injuries or setbacks... knock on wood and have it baptized by the Beaver)

Number Five in 3rd Down Conversion Percentage:

This one and scoring defense are my favorite team stats. Miami is 5th in the league with a 34.48% conversion allowance percentage. Roughly only allowing 13 of all 3rd downs to be completed is impressive. If teams are getting the better of Miami it has been on first or second down, cause the Fins Defense owns 3rd downs at the moment. Forcing a punt or a field goal is a big part of what has propelled Miami to a 3-2 start.

Moving Forward:

I see sustainable success for this defense. They have faced a heavy turret of offense so far and come out on top. Granted, they will still have to face the likes of Tom Brady twice, but Miami should be well aware of those perils. Other than Crying Tom and Darth Hoodie, Miami’s got Cam Newton and Derek Carr as the next two most dangerous QB’s left to face. Not quite Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, if you ask me.

All stats taken from teamrankings.com