Miami Dolphins 2012 Season Preview: Can They Win with a 4-3 Defense?

Posted on Jul 21 2012 - 1:26am by Ely Sussman

Robert Duyos/Sun Sentinel


Expectations aren’t exactly sky high for the Miami Dolphins this season, considering their quarterback controversy and overall offensive deficiencies.

If they ultimately contend, it will be because of their defense. Under new Coordinator Kevin Coyle, the Dolphins are abandoning the 3-4 alignment—which has been their primary formation since 2005—in favor of a 4-3 setup.

Having an extra guy in the trenches will strengthen the team’s pass rush. Disrupting opposing QBs was a year-long issue for the Dolphins in 2011, as they compiled only 41.0 sacks and surrendered nearly 250 passing yards per game (24 touchdowns). They also ranked 15th in the NFL in total defense.

Specifically, linebacker Cameron Wake saw his numbers drop off from the previous fall. He’ll make the move to defensive end in an attempt to rediscover his Pro Bowl ability. Hopefully, his work ethic isn’t affected by the $49 million contract extension he signed this May, which runs through the 2016 season. The new starting LBs will be Kevin Burnett (SLB), Karlos Dansby (MLB) and Koa Misi (WLB).

There’s no doubt that this strategic shift will give Miami a fighting chance against elite O-lines like New England’s. Never again will the Dolphins allow 517 yards through the air, as they did versus Tom Brady and the Pats in Week 1.

However, Coyle’s changes will be for naught if the defense doesn’t get better pass coverage from its secondary. Improvement is certainly possible, according to’s James Walker, who claims that the defensive backs “looked good in organized team activities.”

Check back each week for more Miami Dolphins updates.