Miami Dolphins: Cameron Wake

The Miami Dolphins have tough offseason decisions to make in an effort to shape their roster into a playoff contender. There are potential roster cuts on both sides of the football.

Here is a look of the top five salaries salaries on defense and what they mean:

No. 1: DE Cameron Wake

[+] EnlargeCameron Wake
AP Images/Lynne SladkyCameron Wake is expensive and aging, but he also produced a team-high 11;5 sacks in 2014.
2015 salary: $9.05 million

Analysis: Although there has been mild media speculation in South Florida about the Dolphins not keeping Wake at his current salary, the team has given no indication of that and it’s very unlikely that will be the case. Wake remains arguably Miami’s best player, even at the age of 32. He led the team in sacks with 11.5 and made it to his fourth Pro Bowl. Wake also is one of the biggest leaders in Miami’s locker room and a team ambassador. His value goes beyond the field. The Dolphins do have to trim salary, but they have plenty of other options to do so.

No. 2: CB Brent Grimes

2015 salary: $8.5 million

Analysis: Grimes, like Wake, is another high-salaried player who has proven he’s worth the investment. Grimes went to back-to-back Pro Bowls in his two seasons in Miami and nearly came away with the MVP this year, which went to Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. Grimes is another player Miami will build its defense around next season.

No. 3: LB Dannell Ellerbe

2015 salary: $8.45 million

Analysis: Ellerbe is certainly in danger of being a salary-cap casualty. In fact, I would be very surprised if Miami doesn’t take his $8.45 million off the books next season and use that money to sign other players. Ellerbe was a major free-agent signing for the Dolphins two years ago, but it hasn’t panned out. Ellerbe underachieved in 2013 and suffered a season-ending hip injury in Week 1 last season. Ellerbe’s replacement, Jelani Jenkins, also developed rapidly and lowered Ellerbe’s value. The Dolphins need cap room, and this cut appears to be just a matter of time.

No. 4: S Reshad Jones

2015 salary: $6.76 million

Analysis: Despite a four-game suspension, Jones is coming off his best season to date. He registered 80 tackles, three interceptions and a sack in limited playing time and really brought a lot to Miami’s secondary. Jones is one of the Dolphins’ best pure athletes, and he’s starting to combine that with playing experience. Jones and Grimes are two starters who will return next season.

No. 5: CB Cortland Finnegan

2015 salary: $5.475 million

Analysis: Finnegan’s return is a question mark. He brought value to the team last year as a veteran leader who played in 12 games. But Finnegan, 31, also suffered through injuries. His $5.475 million salary is a bit high. I wouldn’t be surprised if Miami asked Finnegan to take a pay cut. That way, Finnegan gets to stay in Miami but the Dolphins keep him at a more team-friendly rate. If that doesn’t work, the Dolphins have to decide if cutting Finnegan is worth the additional cap room.
The Miami Dolphins hired Terrell Williams to be their new defensive line coach Thursday, a league source confirmed. Williams spent the past three seasons (2012-2014) coaching the Oakland Raiders' defensive line.

Former Dolphins defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers vacated the position nearly two weeks ago to become the new defensive coordinator of the New York Jets. Williams will inherit talented players in Miami, which include Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake and starters Olivier Vernon and Earl Mitchell.

Sports Illustrated first reported the hire of Williams on Thursday.

Walker's Fab 40 finale: Nos. 1-4

January, 31, 2015
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We're concluding our series ranking the Miami Dolphins' top 40 players this season.

Finally, we have Miami's best four players.

[+] EnlargeMike Wallace
Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsVeteran Mike Wallace led all Dolphins receivers in touchdowns this season with 10.
No. 4: Mike Wallace

Position: Wide receiver

2014 stats: 67 receptions, 862 yards, 10 touchdowns

Analysis: It's difficult to appreciate how dynamic Wallace is in Miami. He's arguably the fastest player in the NFL, and I've rarely seen a player get as open as he does. However, the Dolphins' offense and quarterback Ryan Tannehill are not a match for his talents. Still, Wallace did all he can to develop into a possession-type receiver and led the team in receiving yards and touchdowns. His longest reception of the season was 50 yards. Frustration eventually boiled over in Week 17 when Wallace was benched after a verbal altercation at halftime. It remains to be seen if the Dolphins will bring Wallace back next season, but I doubt Miami will be able to easily replace his production.

No. 3: Brent Grimes

Position: Cornerback

2014 stats: 57 tackles, five interceptions

Analysis: Due to his modest demeanor, Grimes may never get the credit he deserves for being one of the NFL's best cornerbacks. Those who watch Grimes on a weekly basis knows how good he is. Grimes had another good year in Miami by leading the team in interceptions for the second year in a row. His best play last season was a one-handed, leaping interception against Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. Grimes further showed his stuff in the Pro Bowl, when he intercepted a pass and made a strong push for MVP honors.

No. 2: Cameron Wake

Position: Defensive end

2014 stats: 36 tackles, 11.5 sacks, three forced fumbles

Analysis: Wake, 32, is still playing a high level. He posted double-digit sacks for the third time in his career and made it to his fourth Pro Bowl. Wake did have a few slow stretches during the season but few offensive tackles can handle his fastball. Wake's dedication to fitness and taking care of his body is a testament to his strong play despite his age. He's also a team captain.

[+] EnlargeBranden Albert
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeThe Dolphins' offensive line was clearly not the same without its star left tackle in Branden Albert.
No. 1: Branden Albert

Position: Left tackle

2014 stats: Nine starts

Analysis: I was wrong about Albert. I thought he was a very good -- but not elite -- left tackle. So when the Dolphins invested $47 million on the former Pro Bowler, I wasn't completely sure it was the best move to make. But after watching Albert play in Miami over the course of the past season, he's clearly one of the league's top left tackles -- when healthy. Albert shut down opposing defensive ends and his contributions were even more noticeable in his absence. With Albert, the Dolphins allowed 2.5 sacks per game. Without Albert, those numbers escalated to 3.5 sacks per game. He was definitely my MVP in the first half of the season. Albert is trying to recover from a torn ACL -- which is a concern -- but according to Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey, he's progressing well and appears ahead of schedule.

That concludes "Walker's Fab 40" for 2015.

Here are my complete and updated rankings of Dolphins players:

1. LT Branden Albert
2. DE Cameron Wake
3. CB Brent Grimes
4. WR Mike Wallace
5. QB Ryan Tannehill
6. S Reshad Jones
7. P Brandon Fields
8. G Mike Pouncey
9. WR Jarvis Landry
10. LB Jelani Jenkins
11. DE Olivier Vernon
12. RB Lamar Miller
13. TE Charles Clay
14. RT Ja'Wuan James
15. LB Koa Misi
16. C Samson Satele
17. WR Brian Hartline
18. LS John Denney
19. QB Matt Moore
20. DT Randy Starks
21. DT Jared Odrick
22. S Louis Delmas
23. DT Earl Mitchell
24. LB Dannell Ellerbe
25. CB Cortland Finnegan
26. RB Knowshon Moreno
27. S Jimmy Wilson
28. DE Derrick Shelby
29. DE Dion Jordan
30. LB Jason Trusnik
31. TE Dion Sims
32. G Daryn Colledge
33. WR Brandon Gibson
34. CB Jamar Taylor
35. LB Philip Wheeler
36. OT Jason Fox
37. G/OT Dallas Thomas
38. DE Terrence Fede
39. CB Will Davis
40. DE Chris McCain
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Monday from around the Web:
  • Alain Poupart of the Dolphins' team site writes Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes and defensive end Cameron Wake played well in Sunday's Pro Bowl.
Morning take: Both players were part of the winning team led by Hall of Famer Michael Irvin. Grimes nearly won MVP honors with an interception and several pass breakups.
  • Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post wonders if the Dolphins' structure is good for the team.
Morning take: Increasingly, teams are setting up things where more people report to the owner. I tend to favor clarity on who is the boss.
  • Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel writes about the Dolphins' 12th-ranked special teams.
Morning take: It was feast or famine for this group. The best plays of the season were the five blocked kicks, which changed momentum in games.
  • Jameson Olive of Fox Sports Florida writes quarterback is not an issue for the Dolphins.
Morning take: Starter Ryan Tannehill is coming off a 4,000-yard season, which quieted a lot of critics. The Dolphins must continue building around him to take the next step.
Imagine this: Mike Pouncey of the Miami Dolphins pulls from his guard position on a running play Sunday and comes face-to-face with teammate and defensive end Cameron Wake in the Pro Bowl.

It could happen.

Wednesday night's Pro Bowl draft presented interesting subplots as it pertains to the Dolphins. Pouncey was drafted by Team Carter, while Wake and Miami cornerback Brent Grimes were drafted by Team Irvin.

Pouncey also gets a rare opportunity to reunite with his twin brother -- Maurkice Pouncey of the Pittsburgh Steelers -- for the first time at the NFL level with Team Carter. The pair played together for the University of Florida with Maurkice at center and Mike at guard.

The 2015 Pro Bowl will be aired Sunday on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET.
The Miami Dolphins ended their 8-8 season with question marks on their defensive staff, most notably with defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. But the Dolphins could have more immediate issues with veteran defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers.

ESPN's Adam Caplan and ESPN.com New York Jets writer Rich Cimini both report the rival Jets have interest in Rodgers to become their next defensive coordinator. The news makes sense following the recent hire of new Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who has strong ties to Rodgers as they coached together in Miami from 2008-11.

Rodgers is one of the most respected coaches on Miami's staff. He is a holdover from the Tony Sparano era and was retained by current Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin. Players such as Pro Bowler Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, Jared Odrick and Randy Starks all developed under Rodgers' tutelage. The Dolphins recorded 40 or more sacks for three consecutive seasons from 2011-13 and 39 sacks last season.

The opportunity to become a first-time defensive coordinator -- and do it in New York with Bowles -- could be too good for Rodgers to pass up. The Dolphins could be in the market for a new defensive line coach very soon.
DAVIE, Fla. -- Two years in, Dion Jordan of the Miami Dolphins remains a mystery. The coaching staff has not figured out the best way to use the former first-round pick. He began as a defensive end and the coaching staff even started him at outside linebacker in Sunday’s season finale against the New York Jets.

Joseph
Jordan
But according to Jordan, a position switch in 2015 isn’t necessary for him to reach his potential.

“I’m a defensive end, man,” Jordan said Monday as players cleaned out their lockers. “I will continue to do whatever they need me to do, whether it’s covering a special-teams kick or blocking on a kickoff return or covering guys in space.”

Dolphins’ coaches, including defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, said everything must be evaluated in the offseason for Jordan. Miami invested heavily in Jordan by trading up to the No. 3 overall pick to get him in 2013. Yet, Jordan only has three career sacks to go with 46 tackles in two seasons.

Jordan also had two suspensions this year that kept him out of the first six games. He violated the NFL’s substance abuse and performance-enhancing policies and didn’t return until mid-October.

It also doesn’t help Jordan that Miami also has two solid starters ahead of him at defensive end in Pro Bowler Cameron Wake and two-year starter Olivier Vernon. Linebacker is a bigger position of need and could help Jordan see the field faster next year.

“That’s certainly going to be one of the main topics. We have got to find ways to utilize him more," Coyle said of Jordan. "There were some extenuating circumstances both last year, him coming in having a shoulder issue and then again this year with the suspension and so forth. We have got to get him in the right spot and we’re going to evaluate that real closely and we’ll see what we determine to be the best fit for him."

Jordan has enough athleticism and size to play either position. Although Jordan’s preference is to remain at defensive end, he said he will keep his options open.

“I’m good with whatever they ask me to do, but at this moment I’m a defensive end,” Jordan said. “Going into my offseason I’m going to continue to work on little things as far as strength, just making sure my body is 100 percent and getting ready to go.”
DAVIE, Fla. -- Ryan Tannehill solidified his standing as Miami Dolphins' starting quarterback for 2015 -- and possibly beyond. But the immediate future in Miami of backup quarterback Matt Moore remains up in the air.

Moore will become an unrestricted free agent in March. His final game under contract will be Sunday when the Dolphins (8-7) host the New York Jets (3-12) at Sun Life Stadium.

Moore
Moore has spent the past four seasons in Miami, including the last three years as Tannehill's backup. But Moore doesn't know if Sunday will be his final game with the Dolphins.

“I’ve enjoyed everything about my time here,” Moore said Friday. “I’m not sure if that’s going to end or if there’s a new chapter. I don’t know yet. When that time comes, I will figure it out then.”

Moore said he "absolutely" plans to play in 2015. He's just not sure of his destination. Moore, who made $4 million this season, is considered one of the top backup quarterbacks in the NFL.

But there could be several factors working against Moore returning to Miami. For starters, the Dolphins do not have a lot of cap space going into next season. That will make it challenging to re-sign key free agents such as Moore, starting defensive tackle Jared Odrick and starting tight end Charles Clay.

Miami also is further convinced Tannehill is the answer at quarterback than the team was two years ago when it last signed Moore as an insurance policy. The Dolphins may not want to spend a high amount again on a backup quarterback next season. Tannehill will have started all 16 games for the third straight season, while Moore has completed just 2 of 4 passes for 21 yards this year.

Moore said he understands the business and is “aware of possible change” with the Dolphins next season.

“If the situation is right, that will happen,” Moore said of coming back. “If there's a situation elsewhere that is intriguing, it might also happen. ... I’m going to kind of feel my way through it.”

Lastly, the Dolphins announced their team awards for 2014. Tannehill won the Dan Marino Award for the team’s MVP in 2014. Defensive end Cameron Wake earned the Don Shula Award for leadership and Jason Fox won the Nat Moore Community Service Award.

“It’s a huge honor for me and the guys around me,” Tannehill said of the award. “In order for the quarterback to play well, the guys around me have to be playing well also. I think it’s huge honor, and I love that I got it. But at the same time, you have to give a lot of credit to the guys around me.”
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Cameron Wake, DE, fourth Pro Bowl selection: Wake led the Miami Dolphins with 11.5 sacks. This is the third time he's recorded double-digit sacks and most recently had a two-sack performance against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 16. At 32 years old, Wake is still going strong. He remains one of Miami's top players and has a knack for the big moment when his team needs a big play in crucial situations.

Who he beat out: There are some big names who didn't make the cut this year at defensive end. Jason-Pierre Paul of the New York Giants recorded 10.5 sacks -- one fewer than Wake -- and didn't make the Pro Bowl. Baltimore Ravens defensive end/outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who had 11 sacks, also had a Pro Bowl case for either position.

Brent Grimes, CB, third Pro Bowl selection: Grimes was one of Miami's most consistent players this season. He led the Dolphins with five interceptions -- including a pick-six -- and kept the secondary together through multiple injuries at cornerback and safety. Miami's pass defense is ranked No. 4 in the NFL. Grimes' one-handed, highlight-reel interception against Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson in Week 10 also should be a play of the year candidate.

Who he beat out: There were not many snubs at cornerback this year. The eight that made it, including Grimes, were all deserving of the honor. But if I had to nitpick, Minnesota Vikings second-year cornerback Xavier Rhodes (47 tackles, one interception) played well this season but didn't have enough picks. He will only get better.

W2W4: Miami Dolphins

December, 20, 2014
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The Miami Dolphins (7-7), who lost three of their past four games, will host the Minnesota Vikings (6-8) Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.

Here are three things to watch from Miami’s perspective:

Quarterback homecoming? Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a South Florida native, will try to perform well in his homecoming game. Bridgewater was a prep star at Northwester High School before going to the University of Louisville and becoming a first-round pick. He will try to become the first rookie quarterback to beat the Dolphins this season. Miami handily beat Derek Carr (Oakland Raiders) and Blake Bortles (Jacksonville Jaguars) earlier this season.

Sackless: If the Dolphins aim to spoil Bridgewater’s homecoming, the defense must pressure the rookie. Miami’s pass rush has disappeared in recent weeks. The team failed to sack New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady last week, and starting defensive ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon have just two combined sacks in four games. The decline of Miami’s defensive line play has been one of the big mysteries this season. The front four must step up for the team to win the final two games.

Deep passing game: The Dolphins surprised many last week by throwing a variety of deep balls in last week’s loss to the Patriots. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill successfully threw five passes of 30 yards or more in the 41-13 loss. Tannehill connected on a pair of deep balls to receiver Mike Wallace for 50 and 35 yards, and he had another potential touchdown throw dropped by backup running back Damien Williams. Tannehill made another solid deep throw to receiver Brian Hartline that was lost in the sun and drew a pass interference on a fifth deep pass. The Dolphins should test the Vikings’ defense deep to keep opponents honest. They also need to know if Tannehill is capable of consistently making the long throw.
Here are the most interesting Miami Dolphins stories Friday from around the Web:
  • Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel writes Dolphins owner Stephen Ross also wouldn't mind Jim Harbaugh at the University of Michigan, his alma mater.
Morning take: This is an interesting spot for Ross. He’s one of Michigan’s biggest boosters. At the same time, Harbaugh can help turn around the Dolphins. Will Ross land Harbaugh in either spot?
Morning take: This pair has combined for two sacks in the past four games. This was the backbone of Miami’s defense until a few weeks ago.
  • Greg Stoda of the Palm Beach Post offers five suggestions for the Dolphins this offseason.
Morning take: Miami has a lot of decisions to make, especially with high-priced veterans. Much of it depends on who will be calling the shots next year.
Morning take: Gibson came back from a season-ending knee injury last year and contributed for Miami. He’s made 24 receptions for 281 yards and a touchdown off the bench.
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The mood in the Miami Dolphins' locker room was as sullen as it has been all season after Sunday's 28-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle took a couple of strolls through the room with a clenched jaw and a grimace on his face. Usually talkative receiver Mike Wallace was mostly at a loss for words. Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake called Sunday's poor performance in a huge game "mind-blowing."

The relative silence sent a loud message: A once-promising season is heading toward another disappointing finish.

This year is playoffs-or-bust for the Dolphins (7-6). They began Sunday in possession of the final wild-card spot in a crowded AFC race. Now they sit behind Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Houston, and there is no reason to believe Miami has what it takes to make the postseason -- not after jumping out to a 10-0 lead over the Ravens at home only to be outscored 28-3 the rest of way.

Next week Miami will travel to face the AFC East-leading New England Patriots. Another loss would drop the Dolphins to .500.

"We knew what it was," Wallace said of the importance of Sunday's game. "We had it in our hands again, controlling our own destiny. Now we have to leave it up to other people and try to win out."

The Ravens exposed many of the Dolphins' flaws. Baltimore, first and foremost, won the battle at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill had little time to throw and was sacked a season-high six times. Three of those sacks were allowed by inexperienced right tackle Dallas Thomas, a recent replacement following the season-ending knee injury to Pro Bowl veteran Branden Albert. Baltimore rotated outside linebackers Elvis Dumervil (3.5 sacks) and Terrell Suggs (1.5 sacks) to wear out Thomas.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Tannehill was sacked or under duress on 12 of his 33 dropbacks (36.3 percent). That helped Baltimore hold the Dolphins to just three points in the final three quarters.

The Ravens also rushed for 183 yards and averaged 5.9 yards per carry. Miami's defense was consistently pushed off the ball for the third straight week and has allowed 661 rushing yards in that span.

Miami is being dominated physically at the most crucial point of the season. That is not how you win big games in December.

"I guess the most frustrating thing is it's not inability," Wake said. "You've watched us play for 10 games or the first half [of the season]. We can get the job done. Whatever inconsistency there is, we have to put a stop to it really fast."

The reality is it's too late. Including last year's two-game collapse to end the season, Miami now is 1-3 in its past four December games. This is the time of year the Dolphins fizzle.

I asked Ravens veteran receiver Steve Smith, who has played in one Super Bowl and two NFC Championship Games, what it takes to win these big games late in the season.

"You got to play harder than the other guy," Smith said. "Your will and your desire in what you want to do has to be better than what that guy has."

The Dolphins have talent, but they lack the extra gear it takes to get over the hump late in the season. They most likely will watch the playoffs from home in January for the sixth straight season.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 28-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens:

Odrick
Odrick explains outburst: A big media gathering immediately went to the locker of Dolphins starting defensive tackle Jared Odrick following the loss. Television cameras caught an upset Odrick exchanging words with head coach Joe Philbin on the sideline in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Fellow defensive end Derrick Shelby eventually led Odrick away from Philbin to end the spat. Odrick admitted he should have handled the situation better. "It may have looked like I was yelling negative things. It was a disagreement, obviously, but every game there's a disagreement," Odrick explained. "Emotions are running high and I hate to say any of that is a detriment to our team. I probably should have calmed down a little bit earlier than that."

Debatable call: A few questionable calls by officials didn't cause the Dolphins to lose by 15 points. However, one play that players felt could have made a big impact was a fourth-quarter incompletion by Baltimore. Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake hit Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco's arm as it was going forward. The officials originally ruled it a fumble recovered by Miami. But after a review, it was overturned to an incompletion and the Ravens scored a touchdown on the next play. "It happened so fast, I don't know what happened," Wake said. "I tried to get there and the refs made their calls."

Walking wounded: Miami defensive end and former first-round pick Dion Jordan limped in the locker room after the game. He finished and there was no reported injury, but it appeared he was favoring his left leg. Jordan finished the game with one tackle.

Have Dolphins fixed their run defense?

December, 5, 2014
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DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins linebacker Jelani Jenkins knows exactly what to expect from the Baltimore Ravens' offense on Sunday.

Considering the way Miami played run defense the past two weeks -- allowing a total of 478 yards -- Jenkins is sure the physical Ravens will test his group on the ground.

“They like to establish the run just like every other team,” Jenkins explained. “We haven’t been doing as great against the run these past couple weeks, so I am sure that is what they will do.”

Have the Dolphins (7-5) fixed their biggest concern over the past two weeks? Players and coaches believe they have, although there was little evidence of that on the field last week against the New York Jets.

Miami worked more on tackling and fundamentals of late. However, the team hasn't had a practice in full pads in weeks. So it is hard to simulate the physical aspect of bringing guys down to the ground.

After allowing 201 yards in a Week 12 loss to the Denver Broncos, the Dolphins allowed another 277 yards in a win over the Jets on “Monday Night Football.” The run defense is regressing, and that is a mystery because Miami's defense was solid in that area most of the season.

Baltimore (7-5) comes to Sun Life Stadium with the fifth-best rushing attack in the NFL and a hot running back in Justin Forsett, who has 1,009 rushing yards and seven touchdowns this season. (At this time, Forsett is questionable to play with an ankle injury this weekend.) It’s going to take a group effort for Miami to stop Forsett and the Ravens’ rushing attack.

“I think it’s more self-inflicted things that we did to ourselves than anything,” Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake said. “We watch the film and there was a lot of missed tackles, things that obviously are uncharacteristic of us and we’ve shown that we can do that. Moving forward, that’s what we, as professionals, have to do.”

The Dolphins are in a six-way tie for the final wild-card spot in the AFC. Many view Sunday's matchup as a potential elimination game.

Miami’s defense carried the team most of the season, but there has been slippage down the stretch. That is troubling for a team with little margin for error in these final four weeks.

“Concern? You have concerns every week,” Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick said. “You have concerns every day. Concerns about something? Sure, yeah. But we’ve got the people, the players, the coaches and the plays to stop the run, week in and week out, that’s our focus. No matter whether we stopped it or didn’t stop it the week before.”

Dolphins at Jets film review

December, 3, 2014
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The Miami Dolphins improved to 7-5 Monday after beating the lowly New York Jets 16-13. It wasn’t an impressive win, but the Dolphins showed they can fight through a bad performance and still pull out a victory.

I went back and watched the game film to take a closer look at the Dolphins. Here are some additional notes and observations:
  • The run defense looked as bad on film as it did in person. Miami's defenders lacked fundamentals for the second straight week. Players were hesitant, flat-footed, bit often on fakes and the tackling was below average. The Jets also did a good job of mixing principles of a power running game with misdirections. Miami's defense was on its heels until later in the second half when it ignored the threat of the pass and dedicated itself to stopping the run.
  • I’ve never been a fan of Miami’s rotation at defensive end. The team takes starter Olivier Vernon and Pro Bowler Cameron Wake off the field too often for backups Dion Jordan and Derrick Shelby. Jordan, in particular, really struggled against the run during his snaps. He wasn’t disciplined, ran to bad spots and left gaping holes for ball carriers. I understand starters need a break to stay fresh. But Wake and Vernon are two of the top defensive players and should be on the field as much as possible.
  • Dolphins center Samson Satele didn’t have his best game. He’s been solid overall this season, but struggles when playing bigger defensive tackles. Jets defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson and Kenrick Ellis gave Satele plenty of problems. Satele gave up a sack to Ellis and also missed a blitz pickup on a second New York sack. The Baltimore Ravens, this week’s opponent, have another huge defensive tackle in Haloti Ngata, which is a major concern for Satele.
  • Joseph
    Jordan
    While I critiqued Jordan on defense, he is excelling on special teams. Jordan did a great job against the Jets to block a punt. After pushing the long snapper to the ground, Jordan showed good extension and athleticism to block the kick cleanly. Jordan also had a nice return on a blocked punt in Week 10 against the Detroit Lions.
  • Miami’s offense can be very "dink and dunk" at times. Miami does not make a lot of explosive plays, and much of the play calling is centered on short passes with hopes receivers can break tackles. In games against disciplined defenses, it can take the Dolphins 10-15 plays to consistently score touchdowns. That’s a big challenge. If they can start hitting more 30-plus yard completions, life would be much easier for the offense.
  • I’m baffled why the Jets didn’t throw in the second half. Miami constantly put eight – and sometimes nine – players in the box. There were plays available for the Jets in the passing game if they had enough confidence in quarterback Geno Smith. The Dolphins were not winning their one-on-one matchups in the first half and needed to go to extreme measures to stuff the run in the third and fourth quarters. It worked against the lowly Jets (2-10). But Miami needs to be much more balanced defensively against the Ravens and New England Patriots the next two weeks.
  • Miller
    Finally, Miami starting tailback Lamar Miller needs more carries. He had 13 attempts for 56 yards and a touchdown against the Jets. Miller averages 4.9 yards per carry but has one game of more than 15 carries. The Dolphins need to run the ball effectively late in the season to be successful, and Miller is the best option they have.

The Dolphins know they must play much better this weekend in order to beat the Ravens (7-5). Expect Sunday’s game to have playoff-level intensity with both teams fighting for a wild-card spot in the AFC.

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