Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Turnovers, big-play prevention a focus for Fins' D


When Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin assessed his defense in 2012, two things stood out -- a lack of takeaways and too many big plays surrendered.

"That was the overall theme of how we were going to improve our defensive football team, those were the two things that we did not do well enough to be a consistently winning football team on defense," Philbin said Monday. (photo: hcabral, Flickr)

The Dolphins gave up 60 passing plays of 20 yards or more, which was the fourth-most in the NFL.

Their 10 interceptions were the fourth-fewest, and while they forced a run-of-the-mill 15 fumbles, they recovered just six. Only five other teams recovered fewer fumbles, none of which forced as many.

"So we looked at it, position-by-position ways we felt we could improve, players that might or might not be available to us," Philbin said. "So that was really the overriding principal that determined our decisions in the off-season."

Miami traded up in the 2013 NFL Draft to select pass rusher Dion Jordan, who will help take some weight off of Cameron Wake and should help opposing quarterbacks get the ball out of their hands quicker.

The Dolphins also shook up the inside of their linebacker corps by signing former Baltimore Ravens 'backer Dannell Elerbe and former Oakland Raider Philip Wheeler to man the inside while letting go of veterans Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett.

Additionally, they parted ways with their second starting cornerback in as many years, watching Sean Smith walk and replacing him with ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneer Brent Grimes.

"We are excited about these guys, we are just starting out, they have made a good impression so far, we are throwing a lot at them, but I like what I see so far," Philbin said.

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