Miami Dolphins News
Did Miami Get Better Against The Run?

Did Miami Get Better Against The Run?

Run Forest Run, the Dolphins Defense was a sieve in 2016

Run Forest Run, the Dolphins Defense was a sieve in 2016

Run Defense was a major liability in 2016… will it be the same in 2017?

Going into this off-season, one of the Miami Dolphins primary jobs was to find a way to improve against the run.

Miami’s rush defense was ranked 30th in the league–only slightly ahead of the two worst teams in the NFL: the Browns and 49ers. The Dolphins allowed a whopping 142.7 yards per game on the ground, and if they want to have a winning record again, against a schedule that in percentage terms is harder than last year, then they are going to have to find a way to be better against the run.

Miami spent a ton of money and resources on Defense this off-season. Does this mean they’ll actually be better against rushers? Comparing the players on Defense that Miami acquired in the off-season to the players just drafted on defense, it appears that we may have actually done a better job getting better against the run with our free agent transactions.

Linebackers were terrible against the run in 2016

In free agency we signed LB Lawrence Timmons and DE William Hayes.  Timmons is a linebacker that is known for having a nose for the football and being very stout against the run. The biggest knock on him that NFL football fans can see is he’s entering his 11th year in the league and may have lost a step–especially in coverage.  I’ll be very interested–in a nail-biting way–to see how he does this year, because the Steelers have the uncanny ability of knowing when is the right time to not resign their free agents. Will this trend finally broken or not.

Then Miami traded for Hayes–a sneaky good move–because his forte is stopping the run.  Even though Hayes is also on the wrong side of 30, he immediately becomes our best run stopping Defensive End. This might have been the best move to fix the run defense, given the limited commitment and the players ability.

In the Draft Miami selected DE Charles Harris, who is known for his prowess in the pass rush, but is actually referred by some as a liability in the run game.  This is definitely a concern for Miami, but it’s going to be something that both Harris and the coaches are going to focus on improving in Harris’ game.  So depending on how much Harris grows will determine his contribution. Both pupil and teacher can put a big feather in their hat if Harris makes a dramatic improvement early.

Running Backs often had a field day against the Fins

Our second round pick of LB Raekwon McMillian appears to be the best one in terms of addressing our need to get better against the run through the draft.  Many scouts felt that McMillian excelled against the run and is the kind of linebacker that is always around the football.

The one knock on McMillian is that he lacks a bit of athleticism, which could make him a liability in coverage against Tight Ends and Running Backs.  If McMillian truly does have a problem on passing downs in coverage, but is able to be productive against the run, then this would still be considered an improvement for our defense. Even if McMillian is limited to obvious running downs, while not an a perfect scenario, at least he would bring help to a desperate need.

In terms of the Dolphins drafting CB Cordrea Tankersley, Miami definitely selected him because of his cover skills and not his run defense skills he showed no desire to want to be involved in the run defense and make tackles. This is obviously a concern, because even though CB’s are paid to defend against pass catching wide receivers, they need to at least be capable to make tackles and maintain the perimeter on running plays. Question is, can you teacher heart?

A key to 2017 is how much the Dolphins can limit runners

The other two draft picks that Miami used on defense were both on Defensive Tackles: Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor.  I like that Miami doubled down on the DT position late in the draft, because DT’s are definitely key cogs in stopping rushers.  However, both of these DT’s are actually known more for their inside pass rushing ability, than their ability to stop the run.  Since they are both late round draft picks, it’s going to be a battle for them to just make the team. If they do make the roster, then they’re going to have to get better technique and even stronger to hold their own in the trenches against the run.

We did a better job of improving against the run with our FA acquisitions compared to our recent draft picks who may potentially contribute. Overall, the grade is uncertain due to potential being the operative word. Only if this staff can improve the draft picks skill set and fast, can Miami make a dramatic improvement against the run. The FA’s alone won’t bring enough to the table to turn this defense around, so coaching will be key.  What are the rest of the Miami Dolphins News fans thoughts about whether or not we got better against the run?


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  • Hello Dol-Fans

    The Dolphins can only play one game at a time. Many would disagree but we really must perfect our run game, must keep our defense off the field as much as possible because the longer they are on the filed the more their weaknesses are exposed. Special teams must score more along with our defense must score more. We cannot depend on one man the QB having the ball and one two three on the bench yes we will lose games. This is a bad formula. Our QB’s are good but I would not game plan solely on them. We must have a balanced 60% run/40% passing. The Dolphins offensive linemen are better run blockers so let not go against the grain and lets fight the battle we can win!

    This is not beat up on the our QB’s but why put the game solely on a QB it has not happen in over 30 years so why now? A strong run game will demand respect. I’m Certain that the Patriots, Ravens etc. have Tannehill and Moore’s figured out by shutting them both down each season when the game really counts. We will lose every time trying to out passed either Brady or Joe Flacco etc. it has not happen! 2016 season between Matt Moore and Tannehill they threw 476 incomplete or attempted passes and both QB’s combined completed 316 passes. 476 incomplete passes maybe had those plays been reduced to running plays. How many more games would have been in the win Colum for the dolphins? many will say we were playing from behind etc. Then we must ask why?

    This Dolphins team can win over 11 games, it want be easy.

    Another down fall the Fins have is when theirs a conflict with a player they are quickly to trade/cut them i.e. Bret Grimes, Reggie Incognito etc. both are missed. Now Landry slow deal. We need a better approach to keeping our talented player. Derrell Revis is available and he is worth the gamble.

    Buccaneers 1:00 PM
    @ Chargers 4:05 PM
    @ Jets 1:00 PM

  • We can make an assessment by asking the questioned can the Miami Dolphins by using Eight men in the box enables the dolphins to defend the run more effectively If we have a strong secondary.

    The Dolphins can put eighth men — the strong safety (SS) — in the box if it has two outstanding cornerbacks (CB) who can cover wide receivers (WR) man to man that is the questioned? Do We?

    So if the answer is Yes then we have gotten better

    • admin

      I don’t often disagree with you, and I’m only doing so here at 50% because of a couple of factors: I’m not sure about the DC’s ability to call the right play at the right time, and about some of the players who will be asked to make the play happen.
      Here is my concern / uncertainty:
      To load the box you must play man or hybrid man-zone, run a over-cover 3, or mask zone / zone blitz for man and drop. I’m okay with the mask, uncertain about over cover 3 because I’m not sure about our FS and with the flats and mid empty, the over technique offers a big chance for easy completions and YAC. I guess you could play cover 3 with an under technique, but that leaves the big play open. Then there is man cover. We ran very little last year because the talent wasn’t there ( although some hybrid would have been nice). I’m not certain Maxwell is best served in man. Zone press seems his best technique. Howard gets lost deep and also can get outpaced deep as well, McCain is hot and cold, Lippett is good deep in a cover 3… not sure of his man skills, but his agility and length make me believe he will be decent, Allen I’m not sure about, Jones grew up in 2015 in his cover and I could see him covering TE’s with reliability, then there is the rookie CB. I watched some video on him and from what I saw, I wasn’t impressed, but it was a small sample, so my take is worth little.
      Not saying you’re wrong, and I believe some man in order (covered by some zone in hybrid coverage). But bringing that eight man in the box and playing man would be a concern for me. I hope the heck they can do it–even a small % of the snaps. But I’m uncertain.

      • Admin!

        You gave a nice assessment and I would agree with you. I’m not an advocate of the 8 man front against the teams we have problems defeating i.e. New England, Ravens, Steeler!

        I’m certain that we have a talented group but the mental executions and attention to detail is what gets them in trouble.

        The Secondary and defensive line by this video of 2016 season interceptions displayed that the Dolphins have the talent.
        The Miami Dolphins defensive front four are very proficient.


        And with the new addition of the Front four & the Secondary maybe a great improvement.

        • admin

          Don’t get me wrong Steve. I would like to see our defense have a full menu of defensive schemes and techniques. I loved when we had the hydrid 3-4 / 4-3 and presented multiple looks and coverages. If we crowd the box and run zone blitz or some 4 plus man zone, I don’t have too much a problem. It’s my worry about the corners that make me wince. I remember last year https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fk8flStYk4c and soon as I saw it I cringed. Great D’s with talent can do this. Maybe we take a big step forward this year. If we can pull this look off then we are ready for big time. Now to be fair, Rambo would be replaced by Jones, so that would be a tackle. But those corners need to be good enough to get up on the WRs to really pull this off against a class A team. I hope we can pull it off this year, brother. I really do.

          • Yes Admin that was the classics defensive players have tunnel visions, meaning executing the play the coach called and no one dissecting or talking, Why play off the receiver 15 to 20 yards.

            I still believed that we have pretty good corner backs but a coach cannot set them up for failure, they are not robot that meaning they must learn and adjust being pro active.

            I was under the impression that we would fair better with corner backs over 6 feet tall. I was wrong because the corner back position is a skilled position and we may have not drafted the best corners be caused they were under 6 feet tall.

            Back to that play! Any thinking corner back or defensive end would have intercepted that obvious passed to Aldermen. Prime example below:

            Jordan Philips Defensive Tackle @ 6’6 feet Tall 300+ lbs heads up play interception came because he did not have tunnel vision.

            Prior to 2013 Tom Brady has three career games where he attempted at least 15 passes and failed to throw for 100 yards. All three of those games were against the Dolphins:

            Oct. 7, 2001 — Brady went 12-for-24 for 86 yards as the Dolphins won 30-10 at Miami.
            Oct. 10, 2004 — Brady went 7-for-19 for 76 yards, although the Patriots still won 24-10 at home.
            Dec. 10, 2006, Brady was 12-of-25 for 78 yards as the Dolphins won 21-0 at Miami.

  • Dunner

    No debating,,,,,,,,,, we are much better against the run than we were in ’16. To start with, there was no reference to arguably one of the best strong safeties in the league and one of top run stuffers. Reshad Jones alone will impact the run defense tremendously. Lets discuss the 3 LBers that each had 100+ tackles in ’16 (McMillan in college): Timmons, Kiko, McMillan are all good tacklers, all seem to flow to the ball, all have a nose for the football. Hayes was a smart, cheap, and sly move by the Dolphins that is one of the better run defenders at the DE position.

    So when you put said players together it should equal a tremendous increase in production. Jones alone would have been a big improvement, now add Timmons, add McMillan, and you slide Kiko to his more natural “Will” position and you should have a pretty successful run defense.

    • admin

      I would say they are better obviously, but they need to be much better to have a real shot at doing damage. The run stop needs to be in the mid teens at least to win a playoff game. This will mean they need a third DT, and second DE and a 2nd SLB for the depth to endure long games and through the season. They need and another FA or two or some of these picks to fill the run stop need. Suh and Phillips are good, but injuries and breathers force some DT to come in and stop the run. Hayes is excellent, Fede decent and Wake and Branch not so much. Harris needs to contribute in run stop. Alsono and Timmons will do well, Misi too if he stays healthy… that SLB needs solid manning. Howard can tackle… Lippett not so much and, at this point neither can Tankersley. Maxwell is decent when coming out of press and McCain… meh. Jones is excellent, but the rest of the safeties are ok. When all are in, it should be decent, but will that lineup be the same all season and through every game… some picks need to shock to get in the teens, unless the new DC in excellent and can call up plays…

      • Lemmus

        …keep in mind that as of this coming week, any new FA signings no longer count against comp picks next year …there are a good number of FAs still out there who could at least help Miami …Revis at S is the most prominent name that I might like at the right price …but there remain several other possibilities …plus there will be more post draft cuts and camp waivers …it ain’t over by any means

        • admin

          That’s a great point… even though they have sort tight cap space and Landry to sign, there is always money to be found and players to be cut. I def. expect 1 or 2, maybe DT, TE, or OL to come on board.

          • College players not signed by a NFL team as of 5 May 2017.

            Seth Russell, Baylor QB Once considered a Heisman hopeful.

            25. Skyler Howard, West Virginia QB

            2. Collin Buchanan, Miami (Ohio)
            3. Avery Gennesy, Texas A&M
            4. Damien Mama, USC
            5. Aviante Collins, TCU (UPDATE: Collins has signed with the Vikings)
            6. Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia
            7. Jon Toth, Kentucky
            8. Cameron Lee, Illinois State
            9. Eric Austell, Charleston Southern
            10. Ben Braden, Michigan
            23. Alex Kozan, Auburn
            24. Zack Johnson, N.D. State
            26. Adam Pankey, West Virginia

            29. Freddie Burden, Georgia Tech
            32. Andrew Wylie, Eastern Michigan
            33. Dieugot Joseph, Florida International

            5. Hunter Dimick, Utah
            7. Rashaad Coward, Old Dominion
            8. Noble Nwachuwu, West Virginia
            12. Isiah Golden, McNeese State
            13. Samson Kafovalu, Colorado
            18. Johnathan Calvin, Mississippi State
            19. Patrick Ricard, Maine
            20. Jon Taylor, SE Louisiana
            9. Jimmie Gilbert, Colorado
            11. Devonte’ Fields, Louisville
            15. Joe Mathis, Washington
            18. Nyeem Wartman, Penn State
            19. Javancy Jones, Jackson State
            22. Jordan Burton, Oklahoma State
            23. Ryan Watson, Air Force
            26. Donavin Newsom, Missouri
            27. Michael Scherer, Missouri
            28. Torrodney Prevot, Oregon

            4. David Rivers, Youngstown State
            5. Anthony Smithson, Kansas
            10. Devin Chappell, Oregon State
            11. Max Redfield, Notre Dame
            12. Dallas Lloyd, Stanford
            13. Ashton Lampkin, Oklahoma State
            14. Ezra Robinson, Tennessee State
            17. William Likely, Maryland
            18. Lorenzo Jerome, St. Francis (PA)
            19. J.R. Nelson, Montana
            25. Titus Howard, Slippery Rock
            26. Tony Bridges, Mississippi
            27. Art Maulet, Memphis
            29. Damaria Drew, California
            30. Charles Miller, Dartmouth

          • Lemmus

            …cap space is just a number that can and will be manipulated to suit our needs …below the 51 “sure thing” slots, there remains a lot of room to play with

            …Landry remains the outstanding cap issue and it needs to be solved …his agent knows what his value “could” be on the open market next year and wants to hit that # …Miami knows it as well but also knows he could easily get hurt and that there is only so much money available …especially with TH/Suh’s contracts taking up all the air and a lot of other FAs needing resigned next year as well …not to mention that WRs are already sucking up a serious proportion of the cap as a group and Parker is next up if he proves his worth this season

            …its why I still think Landry could be on the trade block if it doesn’t get resolved …there are any number of teams that would give a lot for his services …as would we …but if we simply can’t sign him to an extension, then a trade is possible if they don’t want it to fester this year and can’t afford to tag him next

            …they paid Stills and Landry is absolutely worth more …and without Parker or Caroo yet proving they can stay on the field and/or perform …next season could look dicey at the WR slot …Grant will never be a #1/2 receiver …which could be why they brought so many UDFA WRs to camp …hoping to hit it lucky

        • admin

          Lemmus, you are hitting nerve of truth that makes me flinch. This regime isn’t sentimental. They have proven themselves machine in regards to their philosophy. This a good thing till a guy like Landry gets moved. Now it’s the correct move, if worst case scenario plays out, but it hurts. I think Landry sees himself in the 13-15 mill range. I think Miami doesn’t. Miami won’t budge. Landry must or he is gone. I see Miami giving him a mill or so over proper value, but nut multi million. It’s right for the team concept, even if it doesn’t feel right. If Parker has a brilliant year, I expect Landry to be moved, if he plays hardball.

          • Lemmus

            …college football is a sport …pro football is a business

            …Landry has a good idea of his market value …his pro career is tenuous at best …ten years if he avoids serious injury …then he has to find a new life …and regardless of what Miami is able to offer him, some other team is almost certainly going to offer a better deal if we let him test the waters next year

            …he’s already given 3 of those 10 to the fins with one to go, two if they franchise him …that’s only 5-6 years left in the pros to make enough money to set him and his up for the rest of his life …and that’s only if he doesn’t suffer a career ending injury …its all well and good to think that he should sacrifice a bit to continue to play here …but why should he? …seriously? …look at it from his perspective, eh

            …I pray we sign him but would not be surprised if we don’t …in which case we best hope Parker and Caroo both have pro bowl years …and/or we make a serious play-off run …in which case Landry might stick for less money …but not THAT much less

            …the Suh/TH contracts are coming home to roost …and so far, neither has delivered the anticipated value imnsho …Landry may well be their first casualty

        • admin

          Well, from his perspective, I understand doing all he can to make the most amount of money. But is an extra couple of million worth going to a situation that isn’t as good? We broke fans might say yes, but he is a king here with 0% tax rate, with what looks like a darn good staff and growing team. Likely his first long term contract will include 20-30 mill guaranteed. So, it’s not really about money. It’s about a little bit more money. He, like so many others, might find that extra couple of mill. putting him in a situation he won’t like. Now, if he goes to a winner and makes the extra dough, then so be it… Tanny, given the current contract costs of QB’s and his performance are seeming more in line. Suh not so much. But then again, imagine this D without him?