Here is a stat to consider: The Miami Dolphins’ defense has allowed 1,137 rushing yards after eight games.
The season has reached it midway point and Miami is on pace to allow 2,274 rushing yards, which is much worse than the 1,937 rushing yards it allowed last season. The team thought it fixed its issue with key personnel changes such as Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and shuffling starting linebackers, but that hasn’t been the case.
Miami’s run defense issues were on full display in Sunday’s 33-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo rushed for 266 yards and had two players – tailbacks LeSean McCoy (112) and Karlos Williams (110) – amass more than 100 yards.
The Dolphins were pushed around in the trenches and allowed 7.4 yards per carry, which is unacceptable.
“It’s hard to explain,” interim head coach Dan Campbell said. “I thought we’d do a better job following those guys.”
Suh was the only player in Miami’s front seven who played well. He finished with three tackles (one for loss) and a sack of Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Suh also should’ve had a second sack when he wrapped up Taylor, but the officials didn’t blow the whistle and Taylor was able to throw away the football for an incompletion.
The Dolphins paid Suh $114 million this offseason to fix Miami’s defense, but can’t do it alone. Opponents consistently double-team Suh, especially now that Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake (Achilles) is out of the season.
When Suh is occupied by two defenders, it is up to the other defenders to step up -- and too often that hasn’t been the case. Buffalo ran the ball with ease and Taylor was able to complete 11 of his 12 passes when he dropped back to throw. The Dolphins' defense was sloppy on the front and back end.
“Obviously, a lot of things went wrong,” Suh said. “We weren’t tackling. We weren’t making plays. They have a great scheme.”
Miami (3-5) has zero chance of turning its season around if it doesn't improve its run defense. Opponents will continue to test the team in this area, continuing with the Philadelphia Eagles next week.