The Miami Dolphins began last season with playoff aspirations and finished with one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory.
A big reason for Miami's 6-10 season is the defense didn't perform anywhere near expectations. Despite talented current and former Pro Bowlers such as defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, defensive end Cameron Wake, cornerback Brent Grimes and safety Reshad Jones, the Dolphins finished No. 25 in total defense and No. 28 against the run.
Enter new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. The former Cincinnati Bengals defensive backs coach was hired by Dolphins rookie head coach Adam Gase to turn a struggling defense into a successful one.
Joseph, who will keep a 4-3 scheme but is making tweaks to better the defense, is confident in the talent already on the team.
"We've watched probably half the season from last year and most of the pieces are in house," Joseph said this week. "Obviously acquiring more pieces, it's always important for your schematics. But in-house right now, we've got some pieces to work with. Obviously defensive end Cameron Wake and Suh and safety Reshad Jones, that's front line NFL starters."
One of Joseph's main priorities is getting the most out of Suh. Miami invested $114 million in Suh last year, but he wasn't as dominant as he was with the Detroit Lions, and much of that is on poor coaching and scheme from the former staff.
Suh finished with 61 tackles and six sacks in his first season in Miami. The Dolphins' defense will improve overall if Suh is put in better positions to dominate.
"He's an inside player so that's always tough because offensively they can kind of double team him every play. So it's tough for him watching the film," Joseph said. "He's requiring two or three blockers every play so sometimes it's hard for him to kind of have an impact on the game. But obviously he's a dominant guy. We can use his reputation to kind of help us on defense. But you know watching a guy, he's big, he's fast, he's explosive but he's requiring double teams every play. So for him to get off, it's tough."