Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Coyle: Dolphins' transition to 4-3 'has been great'

Photo: hcabral, Flickr 

Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle inherited a pretty decent unit for his first season on the job. Though it only ranked 15th in total yards allowed last season, Miami allowed the sixth-fewest points and fielded the third-stingiest run defense.

Despite that success, Coyle is bringing changes, and likely improvement, in key areas.

"I felt coming out of the spring one of the goals we had was to be better communicators in the back, and there was considerable improvement in that area," Coyle told The Miami Herald.

Though the Dolphins were stout up front, last season was peppered with coverage breakdowns in the secondary that cost the team dearly. After serving as the defensive backs coach of the Bengals for the past 11 years, Coyle hopes to improve the Dolphins in that facet of the game.

"Our technique is getting better and better every day," Coyle said. "It’s not close to what it has to be, but this group of guys has really bought into what we are trying to do and every day we see glimpses of how good they can be if they continue to work the technique we are encouraging and coaching them to do each and every day."

As he uses training camp to coach his players up on technique, he is helping the entire unit adjust to a change in scheme.

The Dolphins have run the 3-4 base defense since 2008. That changed when Coyle was hired, who is bringing the 4-3 scheme over from Cincinnati.

Personnel-wise, essentially the only difference will be that Cameron Wake will have his hand in the dirt to rush the passer on every down. Even that isn't too big of a departure from what Mike Nolan did last season, where Miami was only in a true 3-4 defense 12 percent of the time and Wake rushed the passer on 90.7 percent of passing downs, according to Pro Football Focus.

Regardless, the scheme change alters the roles of some players and will take adjusting.

"I think that they are embracing it, and for some of them, it lends to their skill sets, maybe a little better, but not necessarily," Coyle said. "... They played darn good defense a year ago in the 3-4, and as I told you guys in the beginning, there weren’t that many true 3-4 snaps.

"There was a lot of under defense, a lot of substitution defense, so there are elements of what we did here a year ago that we are incorporating and some that we will continue to incorporate as the year goes on. But I think the transition has been great.”

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