After removing one of the best defensive tackles of this generation from a mediocre 2017 defense, the outlook for the Dolphins defense this year seemed bleak. Yet, two weeks into the season without Pro Bowler Ndamukong Suh, their defense ranks fourth in the league in points allowed per game (16) and third in takeaways (6). They are also off to a 2-0 start with wins over the Titans and in New York against the Jets.
“We got a tremendous challenge this weekend in Miami against a red hot defense,” said Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson.
Even without Suh, the Dolphins run defense has gone from allowing 4.1 yards per carry in 2017 (16th in NFL) to just 3.3 yards per rush this season which is third best through two games.
They added defensive end Robert Quinn across from Cameron Wake and the two have provided consistent pressure while also being assets against the run.
“Wake has a history of being troublesome guy,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden explained. “I think a great trade they made was Quinn. He raises hell off the edge. He can bend the edge. He’s very athletic. Plays hard. I love his motor.”
A secondary, led by Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones, Xavien Howard, Bobby McCain, and 2018 first round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick, has been dominant allowing a league low 56.6 passer rating. And they already have five interceptions; just four fewer than all of last season.
“[Xavien Howard] is one of the better corners in the whole league and he does not get enough credit for that,” Derek Carr said Wednesday. “And obviously, [Reshad] Jones, number 20, he’s a Pro Bowl player, can do everything. I played against him before and I think he’s a real special talent.”
Carr should remember Reshad Jones. He picked him off in their match-up last season. Jones also led the team with 9 tackles that day. Though the Dolphins lost 27-24.
This Dolphins defense has been strong so far this season and it’s one of the bigger surprises in the NFL, with the Dolphins off to a 2-0 start.
Said Robert Quinn of the revitalized defense; “There’s something special going on here.”