Armando Salguero

Miami Dolphins defense suffering a ‘disconnect,’ defensive coordinator says

Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke yells at his players as they come off the field as they play the Atlanta Falcons last month.
Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke yells at his players as they come off the field as they play the Atlanta Falcons last month. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Matt Burke didn’t sleep Monday Night. No, it wasn’t that his defense’s terrible performance against the Carolina Panthers kept him up that night. It was that the Dolphins defensive coordinator got off the flight from Charlotte and went straight to work.

That makes sense because the Dolphins defense needs immediate work.

And to hear Burke tell it, the Dolphins defense needs to work on its cohesion because lately that’s been lacking.

“That’s not an easy game to swallow,” Burke said Thursday.

“I brought the guys in Tuesday afternoon and we had a chance, the defense, we watched the whole second half together as a whole group and, again, it wasn’t easy to look at it but there were things that had to be addressed so we did that together as a group.”

And together the Dolphins addressed, yes, the 45 points they allowed against Carolina and the 81 points allowed in the three games before that. But also the cohesion issue.

“To be honest I felt that Monday night and possibly the last couple of weeks there’s been a little disconnect between the different levels of the defense,” Burke said referring to the defensive line, linebackers and secondary.

“I felt it was important for everybody to be in there together and talking it out. I didn’t feel the communication was there. I didn’t feel like the understanding of how the front fits with the linebackers and the coverage on the back end fits with the linebackers and that sort of thing [was right].

“I felt it was important to this week take most of the meeting together and we all own that. I told those guys and put all the stats up on the board and none of them are pretty. Not a single one. I said, ‘We own this together. Every single man in this room has a piece of this.’ And we need to get it sorted it because I feel we’re not playing together as unit, which we were better earlier in the year.”

Not playing together? That’s bad because a defense cannot be effective if it doesn’t play as a cohesive unit.

“When you play defense it’s a group deal,” coach Adam Gase said. “It’s 11 guys. At the end of the day everybody has to be on the same page. Everybody has to do their job because it’s hard to be successful on defense if guys are trying to cover for other guys -- doing things that aren’t meant to be done in that particular call.

“So the quickest way to get things going in the right direction is to get 11 guys doing their job and trusting each other as far as what they’re doing.”

One illustration of how the Dolphins have not been trusting each other instead of simply doing their jobs: Linebacker Kiko Alonso can be seen on tape out of position while trying to cover for teammate Lawrence Timmons, who was out of position. That cannot happen. Alonso has to mind his assignment and trust Timmons will do his.

And what if Timmons doesn’t do his assignment properly? That would mean only one linebacker is out of position instead of two when Alonso leaves his assignment to help Timmons..

“I felt like everyone needed to sit in the room together and understand how we’re all fitting together or how we’re all not fitting together,” Burke said. “We pretty much spent the whole meeting together this week.”

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