Saturday, October 6, 2012

Dolphins' defense wary of Bengals' 'big-play offense'


Despite three losses in its first four games, the Miami Dolphins' defense remains a confident bunch.

"We know we’re a good football team," linebacker Kevin Burnett said, according to the team's website. "Our record doesn’t reflect that. Unfortunately, you are what you put on tape."

His defense in particular has made an impression so far in 2012, establishing the stingiest run defense in the NFL through the first quarter of the season. Miami also ranks fifth in the league in defensive third down efficiency and sixth in red zone defense.

But Burnett and the rest of the Dolphins defenders know that Week 5 poses a different challenge, when they travel to Cincinnati to face Andy Dalton and an explosive Bengals' passing attack.

“This is a good Cincinnati team we’re going to play," Burnett said. "They’re a big-play offense. They can do it all. Everybody now is a big-play offense. Week-in, and week-out, they can beat you in a heartbeat. One play, one throw, one catch. They’re dangerous. They have good weapons.”

The defensive numbers on the season are impressive, but they were mostly achieved facing the middling offensive attacks of the Oakland Raiders, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals.

Despite the softer competition, Miami has allowed 354.5 total yards per contest, good for 16th in the NFL. And while it's ranked No. 1 in run defense, the Dolphins' defense is 30th against the pass. Dalton and his arsenal of weapons, including the league's second leading receiver A.J. Green, will fully test Miami in the back end.

“As a secondary we definitely have a huge task ahead if us because it’s not only A.J. They have plenty of weapons like tight end (Jermaine) Gresham and the slot receiver (Andrew) Hawkins," cornerback Sean Smith added.

"They have guys with different traits who can take it the distance at any point in time, so everybody’s going to have to be on their Ps and Qs in that game.”

The attention to detail that Smith is alluding to has been a major knock against the Dolphins defensive backs for the past few seasons, with mental errors costing the team dearly time and time again.

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