The Brian Flores era looks bright in Miami, especially since he was brought in for the particular reason of helping improve the defense. When Flores arrived last year, the Dolphins had only managed to produce a league low 23 sacks and 60 QB hits in all of 2019.
The team is currently on pace to blow those numbers through the stratosphere, as they’re tied for six in sacks (17) and are fifth in quarterback hits (40). To put that into perspective, the team had five sacks and 14 quarterback hits through six weeks in 2019. Needless to say, that’s great news for a team that’s on the rebuilding side of things.
So how can this be explained? Well, aside from facing offensive lines with the quality of the 49ers or Jets, the improved talent has helped lift Miami from the depths of below average defensive play. Signing corner Byron Jones has made all the difference in the world for the secondary, and better efficiency in coverage has made it easier for the pass rush.
On the pass rush, acquiring Emmanuel Ogbah in free agency has provided a much needed boost, as he leads the team in both sacks (5) and quarterback hits (10). Shaq Lawson only has a sack, but has put up eight quarterback hits on his own, while Christian Wilkins has feasted as a run stopper.
The team isn’t at the otherworldly force quite yet, but they’re a group greater than the sum of its parts. What matters is that the defense is playing at a congruent level where each unit is getting and contributing help, with standouts such as Jerome Baker and Xavier Howard existing.
I’d hold onto calling this one of the best defenses in football, as the schedule after the bye gets tough. Once play resumes in week eight, Miami will face tougher offenses including the Rams, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Patriots, and the Bills once more. Even the Bengals with their lack of an offensive line could provide some trouble.
However, Flores has this group playing at a very respectable level through six games, a monster turnaround from the start of 2019. Several pieces are still needed, but the Dolphins defense is clearly making gigantic steps in the right direction.