The Miami Dolphins defense wasn’t the side of the football that cost them their week two loss against the New England Patriots. In a 43-0 shutout, the Miami offense was responsible for two pick-sixes and four total interceptions that gave its defense no chance to step onto the field to stop the TD returns or time to ease into a scheme to stop the Patriots offense.
Defensive improvement was evident
One week removed from having 24-percent of their roster sign contracts days prior to the first game, the Dolphins defense showed vast improvements in just one week. However, one of the worst offenses to wear a jersey for Miami did not follow suit.
“We’re not seeing the results right now but that’s something we have to overcome and just keep working. We have 14 or 15 more games left. We can still turn this around,” cornerback Eric Rowe said postgame.
Standout defensive plays vs Patriots
Linebacker Jerome Baker posted a career-high 12 tackles (seven solo) in just the second game of his sophomore season. LB Vince Biegel recorded a sack and two quarterback hits, with the sack being the first of his NFL career (three years). Quarterback Tom Brady is not a bad guy to sack and remember for the rest of your life. Miami acquired Biegel in the Sept. 1 trade that sent LB Kiko Alonso to the New Orleans Saints. Defensive tackle John Jenkins also brought down Brady on a first-down play in the first quarter for a 7-yard loss. This was also Jenkins’ first sack as a member of the Dolphins after joining the team one day after Biegel.
“We played together. We made some mistakes but ultimately we played together. We communicated, we played hard. That’s the little light that we had,” Baker said postgame.
Miami finally got to the QB. After an abysmal showing week one against Lamar Jackson, the Dolphins gained confidence and attempted going after the more elite QB in Brady, and it paid off. Recording multiple sacks to guys who got their uniforms just weeks ago, speaks volumes on the work ethic that is growing in South Beach.
Additionally, 18-of-22 defensive players for the Dolphins in the game recorded at least one tackle. With players transitioning in-and-out of the game this shows just how well the defensive guys are learning and their abilities to replicate it on the field during games. 13 of the 18 players also had assisted tackles in the game.
“Lift each other up, remain positive with the guys, point out the good. There are some good things. This team – we work too hard during the week to not have some good things happen,” center Daniel Kilgore said postgame. “Tipped balls at the line…really, just pointing out the positives and what individuals are doing and build off of that. That’s a good way to start.”
Examining points against a little closer
With the defense not responsible for two pick-sixes from starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, it brings Miami’s points against for the defense down to 29. This averages out as just one TD per quarter, something a majority of NFL teams failed to do in one or both of the first two weeks of the season. When you add on forcing Patriots’ kicker Stephen Gostkowski to miss two extra points and one field goal, the stock of improvement in the Dolphins defense continues to rise.
Fitzpatrick miserably struggles again
What wasn’t good on the rise is Fitzpatrick’s interception counter. Three picks in a game seals the deal almost every time. It doesn’t help that when backup QB Josh Rosen came in, he also fell victim to the INT. Fitzpatrick was just 11-for-21 for 89 yards, no scores and the three INTs. Rosen completed just seven passes in his 7-for-18 day, accompanied by 97 yards and no scores.
“There’s a lot of different things that go on. Some of those are – you hate to pass blame around. As a quarterback, you try to get the ball out. You try to get yourself in the best position. There are a lot of things, I think, that I could do better in that regard,” Fitzpatrick said. “Physically, I feel good. Mentally and emotionally, not so much; but physically I didn’t take any real big shots today.”
Rosen not given a true opportunity
However, Rosen did have the better day. It was evident that his receivers just could not catch a football. Both wide receivers Jakeem Grant and Preston Williams dropped one long score a piece and numerous receivers dropped open or short-field passes. No. 1 WR DeVante Parker? Suited up for the game, but was nowhere to be found. He had seven targets for the second consecutive week and caught nothing.
No running back recorded 20+ yards
On top of those woes, no Miami running back reached the 20-yard mark. Yes, 20 yards. Kenyan Drake was its leading rusher and he carried the ball six times for 19 yards. The Dolphins attempted running the ball just 13 times behind the worst offensive line in the NFL and paid for it.
“When you barely have 100 yards total offense at the end of the game, I don’t see you winning many games in that aspect. You have to go out there and make sure on every single down you are playing good football – making sure you have your hands where they need to be, making sure you have your eyes where they need to be, because we can’t beat ourselves at this point,” Drake said. “When we get behind the chains, we obviously have trouble moving the ball. So we have to continue to build confidence move the ball, get the ball in manageable situations and play ball from there.”