The Miami Dolphins‘ 2020 season got off to a shaky start after a dismal performance in their 21-11 loss to the New England Patriots on the road.
While there’s a lot to take away from this game, let’s focus on what we learned from the Dolphins on the defensive side of the ball.
Here are my five takeaways from Miami’s defense.
1 — Failing to contain Cam Newton and the run
The Dolphins’ run defense was expected to be one of their biggest improvements in 2020, but in week one it wasn’t. Miami allowed quarterback Cam Newton to run 15 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns.
Newton was not the only Patriot who scored, as running back Sony Michel reached the endzone once and was the second-leading rusher with 37 yards.
The Dolphins defense allowed a total of 217 yards total, which is not ideal but was expected in the first game without a preseason and no true knowledge of what New England’s offense could’ve looked like without Tom Brady under center.
Moving forward, the Dolphins will have to work on their quarterback run containment as they’ll meet another mobile signal-caller in Josh Allen in Week 2.
2 — Pass defense was present but not enough
Miami’s pass defense was decent on Sunday, allowing Newton to complete 15 of his 19 passes (78.9 percent) for 155 yards. However, the secondary only recorded one pass deflection while Christian Wilkins tallied two for the defensive line, along with two tackles for loss and a sack.
Miami invested a lot into its secondary this offseason and it’s expected to be one of the best in the league this season. More will be needed next week.
3 — Defense helped make it a closer game
Where credit is due is how the defense kept the Dolphins in the game.
Following Ryan Fitzpatrick’s first two interceptions, the defense stood their ground and forced a missed field and forced a crucial fumble late in the third quarter.
The game could have gotten out of hand easily if New England capitalized on turnovers. Instead, Miami’s defense held their own and gave the offense a chance to get back in the game.
4 — Miami needs to force more turnovers
Forcing turnovers in future games is a must for this defense. Having lots of additions in the offseason to the defensive side, it’s expected for the defense to have a better outing than what was presented in Sunday’s game.
Given this is the first game in a tough year with limited time to get together as a unit, they needed to get more done applying the pressure on the Patriots offense.
5 — Rookie Brandon Jones off to strong start
Rookie third-round safety Brandon Jones entered the week listed as the last safety on Miami’s depth chart but was on the field a lot more than expected in Week 1. And he was productive, finishing second on the team in tackles with 10.
Though he did not do anything too impressive and was flagged for roughing the passer, his impact on this game was definitely felt.
Miami has a week to regroup and focus on the Bills and their offense. As mentioned before, containing Allen next week will be key and something the Dolphins will need to focus on after allowing Newton to beat them with his feet instead of his arm.