DAVIE, Fla. -- The Miami Dolphins' defense was expected to be the strength of the team. However, after five games, this group currently is ranked 25th and is underachieving at all levels.
Miami's defense is a long way from its expectations of being a top-10 unit. The Dolphins have been below average, but still have 11 games to play up to their potential.
“We’re not satisfied with the way we’ve played through five games,” Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. “We’ve been inconsistent. There’s been flashes of very good play, individual play. But collectively we haven’t had a game where we’ve come out and just flat played from start to finish what we’re capable of.”
The Dolphins’ defense has a chance to get back on track Sunday when Miami hosts the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo is a 2-4 team with a 28th-ranked passing offense and an inexperienced quarterback. The Bills are expected to start Thad Lewis, who got his first start of the season last week in an overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Also, Lewis suffered a foot injury in the Week 6 loss, but reports indicate he's likely to play in Week 7.
Miami has allowed too many “chunk” plays. The Dolphins gave up seven passing plays of 40 yards or more this season, which is third most in the NFL. Ironically, Buffalo is second in the NFL, allowing nine passing plays of 40 yards or more.
“No. 1 is we’re giving up too many explosive plays,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin explained. “That’s something we have to address and do a better job at. I like to get people in a little bit longer yardage situations so we can kind of tee-up and get our pass-rush going.”
Buffalo’s strength is running the football. The Bills are third in the NFL behind tailbacks C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. The Dolphins are 15th against the run but has usually been more consistent in that area over the past few years.
Look for the Bills to protect Lewis with their strong running game. It will be up to the Dolphins’ defense this week to set the tone and dictate the pace of the game in this AFC East matchup.