Same faces but different vibe for Miami Dolphins defense

With the return of veterans like Emmanuel Ogbah and Xavien Howard, Miami has made clear its sense that it can build on last year’s defense.

MIAMI — It is assumed that all teams in the NFL they want to win. Some do a better job of showing it than others.

The Miami Dolphins They spared no expense this offseason to build a contender. His biggest additions have come on offense with the signing of left tackle Terron Armstead and trade for wide receiver Tyreek Hill. However, they did not forget the defense.

His most recent move was a restructured five-year deal with cornerback Xavien Howardwhich gives the three-time pick the Pro Bowl $50 million in dead money, even though he had three years and $39 million remaining on a deal signed in 2019.

Howard felt he outgrew his contract, especially after Miami hit the corner Byron Jones a five-year, $82 million deal in 2020. Howard He publicly requested a trade prior to the 2021 season, and the team put a bandage on the issue by slightly restructuring his deal and promising to renegotiate after the season.

By keeping their promise, the dolphins they seemed to send the message to his locker room that the days of fighting with his best players are over.

“Just bringing everyone back, especially on defense, is so exciting,” he said. Howard. “My boy [Emmanuel] ogbahI was glad to see him come back. We can both make some plays out there. It’s exciting to have the defense back, especially heading into our third year in the same defensive scheme.”

Miami began the rally tour with his defense holding off the coordinator Josh Boyer and several members of last year’s group of attendees, and then renewing with ogbah, their best defensive end, with a fours and $65 million contract just minutes before the legal contact period with free agents began on March 14. The parties had negotiated throughout the campaign, but had not been able to agree on anything before the campaign break.

speaking in the NFL scouting combinehowever, the new head coach of the dolphins, Mike McDanielmade it publicly known that he wanted to return to ogbah. She got her wish 12 days later.

Since then, Miami he has made clear his feeling that last year’s defense can be built on. He re-signed his entire group of inside linebackers and defensive tackle John Jenkins. As the team began its offseason program on April 4, the players described a new atmosphere, despite being many of the same faces.

“It’s just different. It shows,” he said. ogbah. “A lot of guys are happy to be back. Everyone is happy to see each other again. It’s only been like two months, but it felt like forever. We’re happy to be back working.

“The coach McDaniel It brings a different kind of energy to the show, so we’re excited about that, too.”

The 2021 campaign was a two-sided story for the dolphins: Statistically, they were one of the worst defenses in the league for the first eight weeks, including a seven-game losing streak.

However, the defense carried the team during the seven-game winning streak of Miami which began in Week 9. During that streak, he led the NFL with a 40 percent rushing rate, he allowed a league-low 257 yards per game, held opponents to a third-down conversion rate of just 28.6 percent, the lowest, and held six opponents to less than 200 total yards. The dolphins finished the campaign tied for second place in the NFL with 48.0 sacks and tied for eighth with 26 steals.

They’re banking on the second half of last season being more representative of the team’s true defensive identity.

“We should be as good as we want,” he said. ogbah. “We’ve got a lot of guys back, a lot of guys in key positions. We just have to make that pass and keep getting better.”

The return of the 11 starters from a season ago comes with high expectations, but winning the AFC East it won’t be easy. Miami is 1-7 in their last eight matchups against the buffalo billswho have won two consecutive titles of the AFC Eastand they’re the favorites again in 2022 after improving in the offseason.

But the dolphinscoming off consecutive winning seasons, have committed more than $186 million in guaranteed money to Armstead, Hill, Howard Y ogbah only this offseason, and Howard knows what is demanded of this team now.

“Win,” he said frankly.

“We’ve got to finish what we started on the defensive side of the ball. We’ve been making plays and delivering for the team. We’ve got to keep doing that, add more pieces, and hopefully cause more problems out there on defense.”

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