When you look at most statistics, the Miami Dolphins were superior to the New England Patriots when it came to playing defense last season. Miami allowed fewer yards, fewer points and was better against the pass than New England in 2012.
However, there is one statistic the Patriots' defense led Miami by a wide margin: forced fumbles. The Patriots led the NFL last season with 21 forced fumbles and recoveries -- and that number certainly caught the attention of Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. Miami's defense only recovered six forced fumbles in 2012.
As a result, Coyle made his defensive players study tape this summer of the Patriots, their AFC East rival, forcing fumbles and getting to the football.
"We like to believe there were opportunities at times last year to get a fumble as well as a sack, so we’ve showed them players throughout the league who have done that consistently and it’s an awareness factor,” Coyle said. “So we’ve looked at the teams that create the most fumbles last year, it was New England, Chicago, and Cincinnati. We’ve studied every one of those fumbles, we’ve showed them those things on tape, and hopefully it will start to translate onto our play."
One of the biggest complaints about the 2012 Dolphins was they didn’t make enough game-changing plays. The defense was solid, but didn’t force many turnovers. The offense also settled for too many field goals and didn’t score enough points, which helped lead to a 7-9 season.
The Dolphins want to be a more explosive team on both sides of the football, and they expect that to result in more wins. Coyle said the defense must do its part in the turnover department.
"I think there’s a conscious effort on everybody’s part," Coyle explained. "Hopefully, sometimes when you start to get takeaways early in the season, it snowballs and just continues to grow as the season goes on and that’s what we expect to happen this year.
"We are emphasizing it as hard as I have ever done, in all the years I’ve been coaching."