For the subsequent three weeks, the so-called “delicate” a part of the schedule, the Dolphins’ run protection will get maybe its largest back-to-back-to-back take a look at of the yr as they go to Detroit and Chicago, and host Cleveland.
The Lions, led by operating again D’Andre Swift, who appears set to return from a shoulder harm this week, are seventh within the league in dashing (145.7 yards per recreation). The Bears are first (181 ypg) in dashing, and the Browns are fourth (163.6 ypg).
Thankfully for the Dolphins, their run protection is powerful, ranked No. 8 within the league at 103.3 yards per recreation, although twenty first in yards per try at 4.2.
And what you’re seeing now from the Dolphins’ run protection is the fruits of a number of years of enchancment.
Coach Mike McDaniel revealed a part of the not-so-secret formulation for this yr’s success.
“Collectively, it’s been our dedication to getting higher, that there’s pleasure in that,” he stated.
And though they misplaced security Brandon Jones, the group chief in tackles (49) to a season-ending knee harm final week, the Dolphins anticipate their run protection to proceed its promising methods.
One huge key for Miami is what model, or what number of kinds it performs this week with out Jones, who’s often the eighth man within the field for the eight-man fronts which are so widespread and so efficient at stopping the run. He’s additionally their finest at blitzes.
“When you’ve got actually good gamers that you just lose, you don’t exchange them by one participant,” McDaniel stated. “You make the most of different gamers in your roster and you then cater your scheme to what they do effectively, so the entire level and everybody on the protection is aware of is that we’ve to step up for his misplaced manufacturing.
“However that’s not one individual. That’s the gathering of Miami Dolphins defenders. Totally different gamers, totally different talent units and also you’re attempting to make the most of these to the perfect of their means to place them in place to succeed.”
Anticipate the Dolphins to make the most of a mix of safeties Clayton Fejedelem, Eric Rowe, and probably rookie Verone McKinley III, who must once more be elevated from the follow squad, to pair with fellow security Jevon Holland.
Detroit comes geared up with a talented offensive line, led by middle Frank Ragnow and Professional Bowl guard Jonah Jackson, who’s lised as questionable with a neck harm. They do good work. Lions operating backs are tied for third within the league at yards earlier than contact per try (3.4 yards).
However the Dolphins’ run protection is on the rise.
Final yr the Dolphins had been tied for thirteenth with Buffalo in run protection at 109.8 yards per recreation. That complete may have been a bit higher however Tennessee rushed for 198 yards late within the season. But it surely nonetheless represented enchancment.
In 2020, the Dolphins had been sixteenth in run protection at 116.4 ypg.
In 2019, the Dolphins had been twenty seventh in run protection at 135.4 ypg.
In 2018, the Dolphins had been thirty first in run protection at 145.3 ypg.
Whether or not it’s defensive linemen Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler setting the tone up entrance, outdoors linebackers Andrew Van Ginkel, Jaelan Phillips and Melvin Ingram setting the sting, or linebackers Elandon Roberts and Jerome Baker placing the clamps on a ball service, the Dolphins’ run protection has been steadily bettering.
It takes its cue from the protection as an entire.
“We’ve bought a typical right here,” Van Ginkel stated. “If we’re not shutting groups out or conserving groups out of the top zone, we’re not doing a adequate job. And all of us maintain one another accountable and take pleasure.”
Yeah, there have been some hiccups for the Dolphins’ run protection.
Baltimore rushed for 155 yards, led by quarterback Lamar Jackson’s 79-yard landing run. Buffalo, led by quarterback Josh Allen’s 47 yards and operating again Zack Moss’ 46 yards, rushed for 115 yards. The New York Jets, led by now-injured operating again Breece Corridor’s 97 yards, rushed for 135 yards.
However for probably the most half, the Dolphins have been good in run protection, and that’ll be vitally essential for the subsequent three video games.
“It doesn’t matter what, it’s at all times you’ve bought to cease the run,” Sieler stated. “The large factor we are saying is, ‘You cease the run earlier than you play the cross.’ That’s one thing we preach round right here and at all times have.”