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NOTEBOOK: Dolphins Front Four Looking For Mismatches In Cincinnati

Posted Oct 4, 2012

Resurgent pass rush important against Bengals offense.




Now everyone around the National Football League knows the Miami Dolphins have the top run defense, but after last week’s eight-sack performance against the Arizona Cardinals opposing offenses are going to have to prepare even harder.

The easy thing to do when facing a dominant team in the trenches and in the front seven is to try to soften them up through the air. All three quarterbacks Miami has faced in the last three weeks have passed for more than 100 yards and there has been a 100-yard receiver in each of those games, so testing that pass defense will be appealing to Sunday’s opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals.

“It all works together and everything’s tied in together in football, no question about it,” Head Coach Joe Philbin said. “So the more times you can get to the quarterback and make him move in the pocket and disrupt the quarterback’s and receiver’s timing it just helps immensely, so (an effective pass rush) is a huge part of it.”

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green are both in their second seasons and coming off successful rookie campaigns that ended in Hawaii at the Pro Bowl. Green actually started for the AFC and caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Dalton went 7-of-9 for 99 yards and two touchdowns, both to then-Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

Four games into this season, Green is second in the NFL in receiving yards with 428, behind Miami’s Brian Hartline (455), and leads the AFC in receptions with 27. Dalton has the best fourth-quarter passer rating in the AFC at 151.7, having completed 20-of-27 passes for 313 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Any heat Miami can put on Dalton will only help the secondary.

“It kind of goes hand in hand with coverage,” said cornerback Sean Smith, who had two interceptions last week at Arizona while covering Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. “Obviously, with those guys getting after the quarterback the ball has to come out quicker, it disrupts timing and maybe the ball is out just a second before the receiver gets out of his breaks. Also, if our coverage is tight and we can force the quarterback to hold the ball a little longer it allows those guys up front more time to get to the quarterback.”

Even though Cincinnati’s offensive line is one of the biggest in the NFL, with an average height of just under 6-foot-5 and an average weight of 318 pounds, the Dolphins’ front four are not intimidated. Speed and quickness are the calling cards of this group.

The foursome of defensive ends Cameron Wake and Jared Odrick and defensive tackles Paul Soliai and Randy Starks weigh an average of 302.5 pounds and their average height is just under 6-foot-4. They know how to beat all types of blockers on their way to the quarterback.

“I have an inkling every game it’s going to be a big sack game for me,” said Wake, who tallied 4.5 sacks against the Cardinals and has 32.5 in his four-year career. “Anytime there’s a 350-pound guy trying to block me, there’s usually going to be a win for the defense. My mind-set every time I go out on the field, you could draw in whomever, is I’m winning. You can’t block me, there’s nothing you can do. You’re going to have a problem all day long.

“That’s my mind-set and I’m sure he’s probably saying the same thing, ‘I’m the biggest, best tackle there is in this league and nobody can beat me.’ That’s what I love about this game. There’s no talking. That ball is going to hike and somebody is going to win and somebody is going to lose. There’s no in-between, it’s plus or minus. That’s how we have it in our room. You don’t get a C-plus, you either fail or you pass, and that’s what I love about the game because I feel that every play you’re going to lose, I’m going to win.”

If Wake delivers on his prediction then it could be a long afternoon for Dalton and the Bengals.

DOLPHINS TIDBITS

##On the heels of last night’s Presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, it was only natural that some political discussions took place inside the practice bubble among the assembled media. General Manager Jeff Ireland even chimed in and revealed that he was on his high school debate team, so he was paying close attention to both speakers to see if they used some of the techniques he was taught by his teacher.

##Today’s stretching music stayed with pretty much one common genre – hip-hop – as the first song to be played was “Slight Work,” by Wale featuring Big Sean. “Go Get It,” from T.I., was next up and then veteran rapper Ice Cube closed things out with “It Was A Good Day.”

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