Thursday, June 6, 2013

Philbin: There is still a lot Wake can improve on


When you're considered to be at the peak of your career, simply maintaining your level of output is usually enough to keep the boss happy.

But NFL football isn't your average profession, and in Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake's case, his boss sees plenty of room for improvement in the star pass rusher.

“Absolutely, there is a lot," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin told reporters on Monday, according to the team's website. "Considering now that this is a different defensive system that he is playing in, so now it is year two in that system, so I think there are some things overall from a technique standpoint that he can improve upon."

By all accounts, Wake's first year in Miami's 4-3 defensive scheme went pretty well. Pro Football Focus ranked the former-CFL standout first in every major pass rushing category for 4-3 defensive ends, including sacks, total pressures and overall grade.

But Philbin had no problem finding flaws in Wake's game, even if it's something he rarely does to begin with.

"There are pass coverage responsibilities in this defense that he has, not on every single snap obviously, there are some areas there that he needs to improve upon," Philbin said. "So there is still quite a bit.”

Wake dropped into coverage from his defensive end spot on just 4 percent of his defensive snaps in 2012. It's not likely that the Dolphins remove him from the pass rush much more than that this upcoming season either.

Last offseason, Miami signed Wake to a four-year extension that has him under contract until 2017. Wake's exceptional play has been one of the few constants for this Dolphins franchise since he entered the league in 2009.

This year includes two new starting linebackers and a new starting cornerback behind him, as Philbin tries to shape his defense into a more disruptive, turnover-productive unit. Third overall pick Dion Jordan figures to be a versatile weapon who can rush the passer opposite Wake.

It won't be known if these changes will work out for Philbin until the season gets underway, but he can at least count on Wake to be a dominant player. Even if he doesn't improve his coverage skills.

Follow Sean @seanldonovan
Follow AFC East Daily @AFCEastDaily