Here’s yet another reason why the Dolphins need to improve their defensive backfield: They will be facing some of the league’s best passing attacks next season.
The NFL has confirmed most of next year’s team-by-team matchups (without dates or times), and the Dolphins’ home schedule will include Baltimore, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Carolina and the AFC West team that finishes in the same spot as Miami (likely Chargers, Raiders or Chiefs), as well as AFC East rivals New England, Buffalo and the Jets.
The Dolphins’ road schedule, besides the other AFC East teams, will include Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Tampa Bay and the AFC South team that finishes in the same spot as the Dolphins (Colts, Titans or Jaguars).
That means, barring injuries, matchups against Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, much-improved Josh Freeman, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton – and, as usual – two against Tom Brady.
### With the Patriots visiting Sunday, it’s hardly the ideal time for uncertainty at cornerback, which is happening with Nolan Carroll and R.J. Stanford now sharing snaps about equally.
Also worrisome: Over the past four games, Sean Smith has allowed 16 of 24 passes against him to be completed (including five for five against Seattle) for 249 yards and two touchdowns. And with Wes Welker looming, Miami desperately hopes for more consistency from Jimmy Wilson in the slot; quarterbacks are completing 66 percent of passes against him, with a 104.5 rating in his coverage area.
### At least Reshad Jones remains No. 1 among all safeties according to Pro Football Focus, with a 57.1 quarterback rating against. Jones has been studying All-Pro Ed Reed on YouTube: “I look at Ed Reed and say that’s the safety I want to be known as.”
### Cornerback Richard Marshall insists if Davone Bess played for the Patriots, he would produce the numbers Welker does. Welker is fourth in the NFL with 80 receptions; Bess (55 catches) is tied for 15th with Brian Hartline, Larry Fitzgerald, Jimmy Graham and others.
### Rishard Matthews (22 snaps Sunday) has surged ahead of Marlon Moore (six snaps) for the No. 3 receiver job, but both are getting limited chances because the Dolphins are lining up Charles Clay and their running backs as receivers at times. Smith said the Dolphins’ fastest receiver is actually on the practice squad: 6-3 Brian Tyms.
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