DAVIE - As impressive as the Miami Dolphins defense has been in the first two games, there is still plenty of meat on this bone.
In fact, I would argue that nobody associated with the team (players, coaches and media members) would say this defense has reached its potential yet.
The yards per carry average allowed (4.6 per attempt) needs to tighten. Sacks were missed in both wins.
The tight end struggles needs to be addressed, and Miami hasn't had three of the team's top cornerbacks - Dimitri Patterson, Jamar Taylor and Will Davis - healthy for a full game yet.
That means defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle has some work to do, especially heading into Sunday's home-opener against the high-octane Atlanta Falcons.
Here is Coyle unfiltered interview heading into Sunday's Falcons game.
How did Nolan Carroll’s play on Sunday replacing Dimitri Patterson?
“I thought Nolan played well. He matched up well on the perimeter. I thought it was one of his better all-around efforts. He’s had a number of starts since he’s been here, but I think he’s stepped up against a number of good receiver and a good receiving corps. He did a fine job.”
What adjustments did you make to get more pressure on Andrew Luck in the second half?
“They were trying to protect him. He was getting rid of the ball quickly. It wasn’t a specific adjustment in the second half. It was getting them into situations where we knew they had to throw the ball. They were trying to throw the ball a lot on early downs. They were throwing the ball a lot on second down. At the end of the game particularly when they were forced to throw the ball, we were able to generate some more pressure against him.”
How was your unit able to limit the yardage of the Colts, in particular T.Y. Hilton, in the second half?
“Everybody talks about these great halftime adjustments in this league (laughs), and really at halftime you don’t have much time to do a whole lot. It’s a little bit overrated. I may have mentioned that one time last year. What we did, we just went into halftime and thank God the offense did such a great job moving the ball the way they did at the end of the half. We got a heck of a young kicker who went out there and drilled it, to get us in there at 0-0. It was like starting the game all over again. They had put up some big numbers on a couple of plays. They got almost 100 yards on two plays. One, we didn’t make the play. We were right there, but we didn’t make it. Another one we just didn’t execute the defense very well. But we just said, ‘Hey, we just have to go out and win the second half. We’ve got to eliminate the big plays and keep on playing.’ We did adjust our coverage philosophy a little bit as the second half went on to be a little bit more cover-conscience. In other words, we weren’t going to beat our heads up against the wall trying to blitz them there in the beginning of the second half knowing they were getting the ball out quick. We were going to try covering them with some different looks. It helped us. We made some big-time third down stops throughout the game that sometimes go unnoticed. The third down stop on the opening drive, believe it or not, the 3rd-and-1 when they are in the 30-yard line area, I don’t know the exact yard-line. But they have a 3rd-and-1, and they try to throw it on a little rub-route. Our coverage on that play, if you go look at that play, is as good as it could be. We have guys draped all over them, and (Brent) Grimes tips the ball away. It’s an incompletion. They try the field goal and miss it. It doesn’t look like much at the time, but it sure as heck (does) at the end of the ballgame was a key play in the game. When they were coming off the goal-line there in the second half they had two short-yardage plays a 2nd-and-short and a 3rd-and-1 where we stopped them. They punted, and we got the ball back. They punted well, but our offense went and drove the ball 60 some yards for a touchdown right after where we had them backed up. There were some key plays in the game that certainly helped us. At halftime, we just tried to regroup, keep on hammering, said it was a 0-0 score and let’s go win the game.”
Would Dion Jordan’s snaps increase if Paul Soliai would miss an extended period of time?
“We would like to get Dion more involved as we progress through the season, but his role was different than Paul’s. Take a look at the body types. There’s a little bit of a different type of guy. Certainly we are going to try to increase his work, and we’re not certain as to right now how to Paul’s condition will be here as the week goes on over the next few days and so forth. We are going to plan. We always have a plan if we are going to need to juggle some people around, just like yesterday in the secondary going into the game. Fortunately the guys who had the opportunity stepped up big-time for us. Whoever it’s going to be they’ll be ready, and we’ll be ready.”
What happened on the Dion Jordan play where he appeared to have the sack but the quarterback escaped?
“If you look at the play, (Andrew) Luck jerks the ball right as Dion is approaching him. I honestly think Dion thought he threw it, so when he hit him he pulled off. And then (Dion) saw him take off, and you can see (Dion) chasing after him. He literally, I’m not sure how, (Luck) does pump the ball. I think his angle, maybe his head was down, his eyes were down, whatever, he thought the ball was released and didn’t finish the play. That’s how (Luck) got out of that one.”
What lessons can Jordan learned on that play where he missed the sack?
“Finish the play, but sometimes guys are getting a little nervous about hitting these quarterback because if he does release the ball and you pile-drive him into the ground, you are likely to get a flag. I think it was a young player making an error in judgment, and hopefully he’s getting a lot of flak from the guys in the room right now (laughs), deservedly so, but I don’t think he’ll make that same mistake again.”
What did you saw on film from the Brent Grimes interception in the fourth quarter?
“Brent is a very instinctive playmaker, and that’s why it was disappointing on the earlier throw because he actually had better position on the first throw (in the first half) than he did on the second throw to kind of work his way back underneath him on that. We got some pressure on the quarterback. He had to step up into the pocket, and he launched one. Brent was just tracking it all the way. He got himself in front of Reggie Wayne and just went up really strong for the ball and made a heck of an interception. It was a great play at that particular time in the game. We really needed it.”
Does beating the Colts give you confidence going against a uptempo team like the Falcons?
“We are playing a team with an outstanding Pro Bowl quarterback coming off of his best statistical game probably in his career in terms of yardage. I think his quarterback rating is about 107 right now. He’s got a core of skill players around him, about as good as anybody in the league in terms of throwing the ball, receivers, a Pro Bowl Hall of Fame tight end who can still play at an extremely high level. It’s going to be a big-time challenge. We will be ready. Our players know that we are confident. We know we can be better. We are not close to where we need to be. We have to improve and keep improving every week. This will be a big-time challenge. We’ve got to get pressure on this guy. This guy is a very cool customer when he can sit in the pocket and throw the football, so we are going to have to mix pressure in coverage and try to keep him off-balanced.”
How he would you assess the play of Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler so far?
“We are really pleased with both of those guys. I thought they played, I think between the two of them, they probably played on our statistics as we grade the tape. I think Dannell had about 16 hits. Philip might have had 13 or 14 (hits). Between the two of them they were upward of probably 30 hits in the ballgame. They fly around. They play with great energy. We just have to keep on limiting the mistakes and proving the communication. They play at a very, very high tempo, and I’m really pleased with that.”
What was it like calling plays in the Colts game?
I just want to make one mention, this was the kind of a game as a coach you go into, and sometimes games, and I wouldn’t say they are easy to call, but you get into the game, you get into a rhythm and the calls are coming. You get a great feel, and you just can’t wait to get to the next call like I was kind of talking about last week. This was not one of those games. This was a game it was hard-sledding the whole way. But I want to credit the defensive staff. The guys on the staff did a phenomenal job of helping me during the game. The guys in the press box, Blue Adams and Charlie Bullen and particularly Dave Corrao giving me information I need. Then the guys on the sideline were awesome. George Edwards with those linebackers, as you mentioned, did a phenomenal job. Lou Anarumo had some suggestions coverage-wise as the second half was unfolding that really helped us immensely. I credit Kacy Rodgers for the last call of the game. He put the thought in my head right before the play, and we had a little time to try to orchestrate that call. Those guys, really I mean that sincerely, they really made a big-time different in the game yesterday. All the assistant coaches on defense, I’m really thankful for that.”
Any quick remedies to address covering tight ends better?
“No, if you know of any let me know (laughs). You know it’s funny. I knew that question might be posed, but when you look around the league it’s not just us. These tight ends, they are darn good athletes. They are mismatched athletes in terms of coverage at times. You see them on a weekly basis. There are guys that are really big. Their number of catches are big, and we happen to be facing some really good ones, not just this week. Last week we had one. This week we had a very athletic guy. Certainly (Tony) Gonzalez is that way. The guy the following week is going to be that way. We’ve got to keep mixing things up and do a better job against them. I think it’s part of the way football is today. The tight end position has become such a key focal point.”
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