How Vic Fangio can improve Dolphins defense as coordinator in 2023 – The Denver Post

For future Dolphins defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to once again turn Miami’s defense into a league-wide feared unit, he’ll have to fix what went wrong in 2022.

The Dolphins finished the regular season 30th in takeouts, 27th in pass defense, 24th in goal defense and third down defense, and 18th in total defense, ultimately leading former defensive coordinator Josh Boyer to be fired. This for a unit that was expected to build on an impressive second half of 2021 thanks to continuity – apart from former manager Brian Flores.

Fangio, who is set to accept Miami’s defensive coordinator job after Sunday’s Super Bowl, can really improve the Dolphins’ defense in the areas of forcing turnovers, leaving the field on third downs and fostering. a unit that is not as dependent on the blitz as it was under Boyer. If he does those things, while maintaining what the Dolphins already excel at — like run defense — and everything else should fall into place.

When Fangio was AP Assistant Coach of the Year with the 2018 Chicago Bears, a season as a defensive coordinator that saw him break into the head coaching ranks in the ensuing offseason with the Broncos in Denver, Fangio’s defense was able to pressure opposing quarterbacks without blitzing.

The Bears that season ranked third with 50 sacks. They pressed quarterbacks at a rate of 26.7%, according to Football Reference, which ranked in the top half of the league. Meanwhile, their blitz percentage of 20.3 was the 10th lowest.

Fangio’s blitz percentages were in a similar range with a slight increase in three seasons as Broncos head coach: 24.1 in 2019, 27.9 in 2020 and 25.3 in 2021. defensive with the Super Bowl-bound Philadelphia Eagles this season, that defense produced an impressive 70 sacks in the regular season, which was the third-most in NFL history. The unit achieved this number by blitzing only 22.1% of the time.

The Dolphins finished second in blitz percentage in 2020 (40.8) and 2021 (39.6), Boyer’s first two seasons as defensive coordinator. For a number of reasons, he had to drop that rate to 33.3% last season, but that still ranked third in the league.

Never having cornerback Byron Jones available to play against Xavien Howard – and Howard being hampered by injuries – limited the effectiveness of Boyer’s blitzes. He didn’t have the same caliber of man-on-the-boundary coverage to free up extra defenders on the pass rush. He lost safety Brandon Jones during the season, which took away one of his favorite tools along with Jones’ talent for safety blitzing.

Blitz patterns have become predictable and often untimely. As the opposing attacks figured them out, Boyer tried to adjust how he called his defense – which led to this decrease in blitz rate – but he just wasn’t as effective when he was forced out of his comfort zone.

Fangio’s scheme creates confusion by forcing the quarterback to do post-snap reads. Historically, his defensive looks start the same way, mostly in the two deep safe shells, but his coverages vary. His calls won’t be flagged as often to opponents before the snap with versatility from the same basic look. This lack of predictability could support the takeaways that need to increase and avoid reliance on the blitz. This, in turn, makes key third downs harder to grab when the offenses aren’t as aware of defensive tendencies.

Fangio’s 49ers defense ranked in the top five in total defense and scoring defense for three consecutive seasons from 2011-2013, when San Francisco, under coach Jim Harbaugh, reaches at least the NFC Championship Game each season and a Super Bowl.

Player development for Miami’s young core defensemen could also be anticipated.

Can Fangio upgrade rushers Bradley Chubb, who he already had in Denver, and Jaelan Phillips to the level of Von Miller with the Broncos, Khalil Mack with the Bears or Aldon Smith with the 49ers?

Can he make Jevon Holland the caliber of safety that Eddie Jackson was in Chicago or Justin Simmons in Denver or the Donte Whitner-Dashon Goldson combination in San Francisco?

Can he produce a vision for an upgrade at linebacker to step into the stratosphere of what Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman were with the Niners? And what can he do for defensive linemen Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler, who once excelled on offense with the Dolphins?

Of course, it also helps if Fangio gets a better hand on the injury front than Boyer did last season.

With cornerback Byron Jones missing the season after never recovering from left leg surgery and offseason safety Brandon Jones, defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and cornerback Nik Needham have lost for the year during the season, it provided many difficulties for Boyer.

One area where Boyer deserves credit was some of his in-game adjustments. Although some of his original game plans for various contests were on display during the first half, he adjusted for stoppages in the second half in wins over Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago and to keep the Dolphins in the regular season loss at Buffalo.

The Dolphins also finished the season strong defensively, which may have made coach Mike McDaniel’s decision more difficult. The three turnovers — one for the touchdown — and seven sacks against the Bills almost led to a huge playoff upset. The defense also kept the New York Jets out of the end zone in the regular season finale to clinch a playoff berth with the 11-6 win.


denverpost sports

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button