DAVIE, Fla. -- Here is a stat few could predict at the beginning of the regular season: The Miami Dolphins have one of the NFL’s worst defenses one month into the season.
The Dolphins are ranked 26th in total defense and 30th against the run entering Week 4. Miami has three Pro Bowlers on defense -- Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, Brent Grimes -- and solid starters throughout such as safety Reshad Jones, linebacker Jelani Jenkins and defensive end Olivier Vernon. Yet, this group has failed to live up to their potential thus far.
Miami’s worst defensive performance of the season occurred Sunday during its 41-14 blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Dolphins (1-2) allowed 428 total yards, including 151 rushing yards by the Bills on the ground.
The bad numbers even surprised Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle.
“No. I couldn’t imagine that, but that’s the reality of what it is and that’s my job,” Coyle said Monday. “I take responsibility for that. It’s on my shoulders. It’s my job to make sure we are playing winning defense and I’ve got to get that done. I’m disappointed, but I’m mostly disappointed in myself.”
Coyle is facing some heat in Miami after his defense sputtered at the end of last season and now is off to a slow start this season. Coyle said he realizes he must do a better job of putting his players in the right position to succeed.
What is the identity of Miami’s defense? This group hasn't shown the ability to do anything particularly well and has a lot of growing to do after three games.
“I don’t think we’ve shown our identity yet to be quite honest with you,” Coyle said. “We’ve been playing on our heels a little bit throughout the past three games. We haven’t just been able to go out and attack. I think that’s something that we need to address as we move forward. Eliminate the thinking and just let guys to just go out there and play football. Hopefully that will show what our guys are capable of doing as we move forward.”
The Dolphins are toast this season if they continue to play this poorly on defense. This group was expected to be the strength of the team, especially after the major acquisition of Suh. But currently the defense and offense aren't complementing each other well.
Philbin remains confident Coyle and his staff can get the Dolphins going in the right direction.
“I believe in the coaching staff that I have in place right now,” Philbin said. “I think they’re the men that can come up with the solutions to the problems. We’re not playing well. Let’s stick to the process and development.”