So I went back to try and get a feel for the Dolphins success this season...
Defense: Very Fast LB corp
Here against Cleveland:
The Dolphins came with a 7-8 man box 90% of the time against the Browns, and rightfully so. They obviously took the stop Richardson and make Weedon beat you through the air approach and it worked. Here you see the highlighted 8 man box including the blitzing safety. The formation is a traditional cover 2 run support formation. A lot of teams with a star running back and a mediocre QB see this defense so don’t expect to see too much of it against Brees and the Saints.
Against the Browns, whenever they expected a pass they would simply substitute the blitzing Safety with a LB and shift the line. This is still a cover two defense as there are only four DB’s on the field and the FS is deep, but the SS falls back to a traditional pass coverage assignment. In the two photos sandwiching this text, you see them try to line up in this traditional cover two, and then confuse Weedon when the standing (highlighted) LB drops into coverage and the right side CB blitzes instead. Weedon was confused on the play and threw an incomplete pass.
The thing Miami likes to run up and down the field is quick out and in’s. A defense has to have LB’s who can cover the middle with consistency and the safeties to pick up the out routes, or vice versa. The Saints have been efficient against this approach through three weeks, so I doubt Miami sticks to that gameplan. The one thing that bugs me is that the Saints are one of those teams that like to play with a bit more cushion on the outside, this makes quick stints and screens very easy and Mike Sherman loves that college style offense. Here Tannehill simply motioned a WR out right, and threw to him on a button route.
Against the Colts:
Here the Dolphins are playing a better QB in Andrew Luck so they adjust. They come out in a two-level defense which mainly means most of the down lineman are LB’s therefore you have two levels of possible LB coverage. The Colts must have watches tape from last season when the Dolphins used this in both games against Tom Brady and it was fairly efficient. The way to remedy this is again a college style offense with a lot of quick outs and screens. The speed of the Dolphins’ LB corp is going to be the best the Saints have seen this season but this can be overcome by beating their mainly zone defense with comeback routes, out routes with Jimmy Graham, and screens with Sproles so expect to see a heavy dosage of the three. In the last image you see a quick out route by Reggie Wayne that beat the LB in zone and picked up 8 yards.