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Dolphins Mailbag: Talking Defense, Trade Deadline, O-line, and Much More

Why has the Miami Dolphins defense regressed so much? Will the Dolphins be buyers or sellers at the NFL trade deadline? More Questions.

The latest SI Fan Nation mailbag features a wide variety of questions (and answers) on topics ranging from the struggles of the defense, the NFL trading deadline and, of course, the possibility of a Deshaun Watson trade.

Here's part 1:

From jorge boyd (@raga1922):

Hi Alain i dont think the Dolphins can go throw for throw against Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense, so how good (or bad) is the Falcons run defense and do we have a chance to establish the run against them and somehow control the game clock in the Dolphins' favor?

Hey Jorge, it’s an interesting point you make there. Atlanta’s defense overall isn’t great, though Atlanta is 12th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game. We must point out, however, that the Falcons have faced the Giants and Jets. Atlanta’s best defensive player is tackle Grady Jarrett and I actually would suggest the best way to attack the Falcons is through the air. Besides, what indication have we seen that the Dolphins can really do a lot of damage with their ground game?

From Mark Macmain (@mmac74):

Not really a question Alain. I'm normally I positive fan always live in hope. But I'm just appalled at this team. The front office, the coaches, the scouts and the players. Time to blow it ALL up again.

Hey Mark, rest assured you’re not the only fan who feels this way. And I would add that us media members are getting kind of tired of the same cycle too.

From Jeff Golden (@Goldenjeff72):

Hypothetical house cleaning of the dolphins…how attractive is the coaching/GM position with Tua (more picks) vs Watson (and fewer picks)..merci Alain!

Hey Jeff, getting the franchise QB always is the most important piece of the puzzle, so this is a pretty easy call for me (assuming there are no long-term issues with Watson’s availability).

From OG Phins Fan (@SportsFanIn213):

Most of us knew the defense would take at least a step back from last year’s unbelievable performance. But it seems like we've taken 3 steps back this year. Other than the offense being bottom 5 & not helping at all, what do you believe is the main issue or issues?

The biggest difference I’ve noticed is the pass rush just isn’t affecting opposing quarterbacks the way it did in 2020. I seem to recall so many instances where QBs would be harassed or have to hurry their throw, and that made things to much easier for the secondary. I’m also not seeing the disguises at the line of scrimmage right before the snap that way I did last year, though the Dolphins did it a bit against Jacksonville last Sunday. But it’s the pass rush to me that’s been the biggest disappointment.

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From Jeff Welt (@funnyesquire):

Do you think the Dolphins will make any moves, either buyer or seller, before the trade deadline? Please do not include Tua in these moves as I don’t think there is any way he will be moved.

Hey Jeff, the Dolphins will not be buyers at the trade deadline outside of a potential deal for Deshaun Watson if everything works out with the Texans’ demands and they’re comfortable with his long-term availability. I certainly could see the Dolphins moving one or two players and Xavien Howard is something to watch here. And I didn’t include Tua because you asked me not to.

From Mikey (@PhinStooge):

When will the pain end?

Hey Mikey, that’s a great question. I guess the answer is: not soon enough.

From Jake @JakeMc945):

Dolphins were great on 3rd down defense last year. I've noticed they show 8 guys at the line every 3rd down play and always drop 3 back. If I notice it opposing O Coordinators have to have figured out Flores schemes. Matt Ryan make them look silly this week?

Hey Jake, that’s the thing, they didn’t always do the same thing with the blitz packages last year and it does seem opponents have figured them out a bit. As for Ryan making them look silly, that might depend on whether Xavien Howard and/or Byron Jones will be able to play after sitting out last week.

From Craig M (@Dolfan2334):

Odds a Watson trade happens before November 2nd?

Hey Craig, that’s a great question. My thinking is it’s better than 50/50 that Watson gets traded because my gut feeling tells me the Texans want to get rid of him like yesterday and they’ll eventually decide dumping him is preferable to hanging on to him through the 2021 season to see if they can get a better return next offseason (which carries some risk for them if his legal situation goes bad for him). And since it’s been reported that Watson will only agree to a trade to the Dolphins and Miami does have interest in him, well … there you go. But I can’t say definitively it’s going to happen.

From Jack Dixon (@jccdixon33):

Same OL as last 2 weeks or is there a change?

Hey Jack, the only way the starting O-line will change is if new center Greg Mancz can’t play because of a groin injury that has him listed as questionable. In that case, Austin Reiter would be the new center. The rest of the line again will be Liam Eichenberg at left tackle, Austin Jackson at left guard, Robert Hunt at right guard and Jesse Davis at right tackle. There have been rumblings that maybe Hunt will move back to right tackle and Davis will slide back inside to right guard, but I’m not sure that move happens just yet.