Any time you hear the Miami Dolphins defensive coaches or players talk about the keys to their performance, “communication” is one of the first words that comes into play. The Dolphins do not run a simple defense and they ask a lot of their players from a recognition and recall perspective to make complex adjustments pre-snap to keep tight coverage on opposing offenses. 2020 was a great start in Year 2 under Brian Flores, but it was also last year; meaning the carryover for this upcoming season is limited at best. With a new starter at free safety and some new pieces of the puzzle elsewhere, the Dolphins don’t have the luxury of simply running it back.
And that’s exactly what makes this week against Chicago and the rest of the preseason so valuable. The kinks need to be ironed out now so that when the team comes into focus against the New England Patriots in Week 1, the coverage is locked and loaded.
Veteran safety Eric Rowe is encouraged by what two days against the Bears has provided.
“Defensive-wise from yesterday to today, we made progress. Especially in the back end, our communication. Yesterday we missed a couple checks. That’s why we have these practices against someone than our own color. It’s good for us to see what we need to work on. So from yesterday to today, I even saw progress even within myself,” said Rowe after Thursday’s practice.
Getting into simulated situations, missing adjustments, reviewing the film and then making adjustments is a necessary part of the process for all teams in all avenues. But for this Dolphins secondary, it can be formative. Remember early on in 2020, without a preseason, when Miami’s defense struggled in the first month of the season? The Dolphins sorely missed getting exposures to other teams besides themselves (along with Byron Jones) and by the time Miami settled in defensively, it was Week 5 versus San Francisco and the team entered at 1-3.
Avoiding that slow start will be critical for the Dolphins’ aspirations and now is the time to make mistakes. Rowe sees plenty of that process in the weeks to come.
“It’s still a long way to go. No one’s in obviously midseason form. That takes time. Things I know that we’ve got to do just to tighten up is just our communication and really just getting lined up, because we’ve seen it when we play our assignments and we execute that we’re stopping the run, we’re stopping the pass; but right now it’s just little things that I’m sure every team has that work through training camp with just some alignment issues or we missed a check on a call or we blow a coverage. Once we just get those things tightened up, we can back to where we were.”