<
>

Has the Dolphins' secondary gotten worse?

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
I love reading KC Joyner's work. He appeals to the baseball fan in me, breaking down football with the types of stats I used to immerse myself in by not only memorizing the backs of my baseball cards, but also applying those figures when I'd watch the games.

Joyner is known as The Football Scientist for his innovative analysis. He examines film and evaluates what he sees into numerical form.

Whereas essentially every baseball trait can be measured by data, football stats aren't always available for consumption. Check the back of an offensive lineman's football card. It's boring. How did I, as an 8-year-old in Ohio, know John Hannah was great? Because the Topps Company said so.

Joyner tries to change that. He recently became a contributor to the "The Fifth Down" blog for the New York Times and has been writing a lot about the AFC East.

In Joyner's latest entry, he takes a look how the Miami Dolphins have addressed their defensive backfield and he doesn't like what he sees:

"Maybe I'm wrong on all of this and [Dolphins vice president of football operations Bill] Parcells will once again prove to be a genius, but I can't help thinking having a weak secondary will be especially difficult in the AFC East in 2009. Not only will Miami have to face New England and Buffalo, but it will also have Houston, Indianapolis and New Orleans on its schedule. That means seven of their games will be against teams with high-powered passing attacks. That does not seem to bode well for the Dolphins' chances of repeating as division champs."

Joyner has no problem with the Dolphins not retaining free safety Renaldo Hill or starting right cornerback Andre' Goodman because they're going to be 31 this year, but the players replacing them don't grade out well.

The Dolphins signed Gibril Wilson to be their new free safety. Wilson has played only one year at that position. Although Wilson won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants that season, Joyner graded him among the worst in the "deep assist metric," or how many yards allowed in over-the-top coverage help. Wilson allowed the third-most yards that year and 12th-most yards per pass attempt.

To replace Goodman, the Dolphins signed former Arizona Cardinal Eric Green. Among corners who faced 30 or more passes last year, Green ranked ninth-worst at 9.3 yards allowed per attempt. Goodman gave up 6.7 yards per attempt.

Now let's see Joyner come up with some stats for checking-line forwards and shutdown defensemen.