Dolphins Q&A: Why hasn’t Miami’s defense been better under Fangio? Is RB Jeff Wilson Jr. coming for starting job? (2024)

Here’s the latest installment of our Miami Dolphins Q&A, where South Florida Sun Sentinel writers David Furones and Chris Perkins answer questions from readers.

Q: But Chris why is this the result? Is this Fangio not having his guys, sub par play from our D, just not the great Messiah the fans thought? Seemed like he didn’t adjust or plan too much for the game after watching some film. Does he just have to get comfortable with what we have? — @Alpha_Omega1021 on X

A: Yes on the last part, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio needs to get comfortable with what he has. There’s a learning curve involved when you have a new coordinator implementing a new system with a new playing style. Plus, Fangio already told us he doesn’t have the players he needs. He also told us you can’t just have cornerback Xavien Howard shadow a wide receiver. Fangio said the other cornerback must be comfortable switching sides, too.

None of that excuses Fangio or relieves him of responsibility. He’s the highest-paid assistant coach in the NFL. He has to get the job done. But it explains why you haven’t seen immediate results. Beyond that, starters don’t play much in the preseason so Fangio is basically seeing these guys in live action for the first time during the regular season. Again, that’s not an excuse, it’s an explanation of what’s happening.

Q: Jeff Wilson Jr. coming back for that RB1? — @drew_sk33 on X

A: Interesting question. Guys that opened the season on injured reserve are eligible to come off now that they’ve been there four weeks. We’ll find out soon whether running back Wilson is close to being activated.

There’s no rush. Among Raheem Mostert, De’Von Achane, Salvon Ahmed, Chris Brooks and fullback Alec Ingold, the Dolphins are OK for now.

In fact, the big decision this week among RBs will be deciding how many touches Achane should get, and right now it appears he should get more than anyone else.

Still, the way RBs go down due to injuries it’d be nice to know Wilson is an option.

Q: They focused on Stopping Tyreek. And we didn’t adjust by running the ball down their face more. Keep that ball out of Allen’s hands. Also, if Diggs is KILLING US, friggin switch X on him and give him help over the top! You have to adjust every week in the NFL! — @GC72GC72 on X

A: Buffalo’s defense was interesting. As I understand it, they sent pressure on the early downs. And when the Dolphins abandoned the run (coach Mike McDaniel said Monday he put the passing game in a bad situation by abandoning the run), it made them predictable.

In response to knowing the Dolphins were only passing, the Bills used the safeties to provide help over the top on throws outside the numbers, and dropped the linebackers a bit deeper to defend the passes inside the numbers.

Also, the deep safeties prevented Tyreek Hill and the Dolphins’ wide receivers from getting yards after the catch.

As for Josh Allen’s passes to Stefon Diggs, Howard said he wanted that challenge of defending Diggs but Fangio opted to stay with his original plan. I’m not sure why it seemed there weren’t more double teams on Diggs.

Q: What’s the alternative? Who are they playing besides Liam? McDaniel and Grier, two people that Mia fans defend constantly, are saying Liam is the best option. Do you trust them or not? Which team doesn’t need OL help right now? Where are all these teams going to find this help? — @gmeynect1361 on X

A: Backup center Liam Eichenberg is catching lots of grief for his performance at Buffalo. It was a bad performance. But the Dolphins are in this situation because their original plan for a backup center, veteran Dan Feeney, who they signed from the New York Jets in the offseason and gave a $3 million guarantee, didn’t pan out. He likely wasn’t going to make the 53-man regular-season roster after training camp. They were fortunate to trade him to Chicago.

That meant the best options at backup center were either Eichenberg, who first played the position in organized team activities and minicamp, and hardly played it during training camp, guard Robert Jones, who was falling far behind in his bid to become a starting guard before sustaining a knee injury in training camp, guard Lester Cotton, who doesn’t have NFL experience at center, or undrafted rookie Alama Uluave.

The winner was Eichenberg, who’d already struggled at tackle and guard.

You could argue this situation points to poor planning by McDaniel and general manager Chris Grier. However, in fairness you must also consider the offensive line, considered a weakness entering the season, has been OK so far, save for one player in the Bills game. And that line was built by McDaniel and Grier.

The question is whether you trust McDaniel and Grier to address the situation going forward.

Q: Chris, this fan base wants to win now and there’s always an excuse as to why we are not deep at a position why our general manager cannot provide us what we need in an excellent offensive line. The window for the Dolphins to win is small. It’s now or never. — @yankeeslife87 on X

A: Understood. As I’ve said, I think this team, as currently constructed, has a two-year Super Bowl window. I say two years because in 2025, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will likely start earning $30 million a year or more, you have to give defensive tackle Christian Wilkins a raise, and players such as wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, edge rusher Jaelan Phillips, guard Robert Hunt, and safety Jevon Holland will all require new, expensive contracts.

And now, considering left tackle Terron Armstead’s injury situation, you might need to acquire a top-line left tackle in the offseason, which will cost many millions.

So, yeah, it’s kind of now or never. But “now” can be a long time. For example, the Dolphins can still make a major acquisition at the trade deadline, such as last year when they acquired Wilson and edge rusher Bradley Chubb.

Have a question?

EmailDavid Furones, or tag@ChrisPerkor@DavidFurones_ on X (Twitter).

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Dolphins Q&A: Why hasn’t Miami’s defense been better under Fangio? Is RB Jeff Wilson Jr. coming for starting job? (2024)

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