Every member of the Dolphins thinks their defense will be better this year.
"We're faster and younger," defensive tackle/end Jared Odrick
said Wednesday, after the second day of the team's three-day mini-camp. "And the fast, young people we did have on the team already are older, wiser."
"I like the attitude of the defense," coach Joe Philbin
said. "I think they've caught onto the system a little bit better. There seem to be less communication errors than the past. They seem to be on the same page a little bit more."
But no one had a more succinct and direct reason than defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle. He thinks the Dolphins have added playmakers who will create takeaways. Both are major goals heading into the season.
"We've had some good days out here in the spring, but we did last spring, too," Coyle said about producing takeaways. "It only counts come the fall. We emphasize it in everything we do since the day we got here."
The Dolphins' defense ranked 21st overall last season – 27th against the pass, 13th against the run, and seventh in points per game (19.8).
But they didn't create big plays. They think that'll change next season.
Coyle, who employs a 4-3 scheme, likes what he sees from guys such as linebackers Philip Wheeler
and Dannell Ellerbe
, and cornerbacks Brent Grimes
and Richard Marshall
. And he likes the reliability of a defensive line that includes Pro Bowl-caliber players in end Cam Wake and tackles Paul Soliai
and Randy Starks
as well as a promising prospect in rookie defensive end/linebacker Dion Jordan.
"I think we've got some playmakers at the linebacking corps," said Coyle, who added 95 percent of the defense has been installed. "I think our secondary right now has improved and we've got guys making plays on the ball in every practice. Obviously, we pride ourselves up front on the ability to be dominating. We've added to our ability to rush the passer in the draft. There's a lot to be excited about as we're moving forward."