In case you somehow forgot, the Dolphins’ run defense was awful late in the 2014 season.
Miami allowed 165.3 rushing yards per game in the final six weeks, making it no surprise that the team limped to a 2-4 finish and in turn missed the playoffs for the sixth season in a row.
Ndamukong Suh wasn’t part of the problem. But teamed again with C.J. Mosley, his running mate in Detroit, he expects to be the solution.
“I think as a defensive line as a whole, no matter what, your run game is dependent solely on you guys,” Suh said Tuesday. “You’ve got to set the tone. The way we get off, the way we strike offensive lineman, the way we create a new line of scrimmage … is very key and very important. We have to continue to do that every single play, every single opportunity the team feels like they can run the ball.”
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And then, Suh dropped the rhetoric hammer.
“It’s very disrespectful for a team to ever run the ball very heavily on you,” he said. “This is a passing league, so for anybody to really run the ball heavily on you, that’s really embarrassing.”
Tuesday’s minicamp was the first time Suh and Mosley, who signed a one-year, $1.05 million contract with the Dolphins last week, practiced together with their new team.
And although they didn’t actually take a snap together — Mosley eased into the flow with the backups — both players are hoping for a reprise of last year when the games count.
The Lions last season ranked first in rushing (allowing 69.3 yards per game), first in yards per rush (3.2), second in total defense (300.9), fourth in yards per play allowed (4.9) and eighth in sacks (42).
The Dolphins, at least on the interior line, seem just as talented as that Lions group. Earl Mitchell, rookie Jordan Phillips and probably either Anthony Johnson or A.J. Francis will round out the rotation at defensive tackle, although all the principles, including coach Joe Philbin, dismissed any such talk as premature.
“I’ve always been on a tough D-line my entire career,” said Mosley, entering his 11th NFL season. “I’ve played with a lot of guys. Shaun Rogers, Kris Jenkins, Shaun Ellis. I’ve played with a lot of stout beasts out there, if you will. This will be no different.”
Added Suh: “I think we look great on paper. That doesn’t really matter at this time, because we’re not playing against anybody. We just continue to grow as a unit so we don’t just become a great paper team. We want to become an actual great team on the football field and go out there and impose our will.”
Suh thinks having Mosley again in the huddle will help make that happen; that’s why he lobbied the front office to make the reunion possible.
Suh’s sales pitch?
“All you have to do is watch the film,” he said.
Suh, as has become his habit this spring, again put a “wow”-inducing play on film Tuesday.
He bulled through the right side of the offensive line on a pass play and would have knocked quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson out of his cleats, had contact been allowed.
Granted, this was a practice in shorts. The true test for the Dolphins’ revamped defense comes in training camp and beyond, when the coaching staff’s plan for this talented group comes into focus.
“It was really all about competition and creating competition in every single room, at every position that we can,” Philbin said of the Mosley signing. “We always are attempting to improve our roster by whatever means necessary. I think that’s really, in the big picture, that’s what it’s really all about.”
▪ All Dolphins players were accounted for at Tuesday’s mandatory practice, if not actually present. Linebacker Kelvin Sheppard was excused for personal reasons.
Receiver Kenny Stills was dressed but did not practice; his undisclosed injury is not considered a long-term issue. Branden Albert (knee) and Don Jones (shoulder) were again held out, as they have been all spring.