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Zone Or Man Coverage — Which Is The Winning Move For The Dolphins?

Matt Pendleton/ Special To The Times-Union

The Miami Dolphins enjoyed their most decisive victory in the Brian Flores era Thursday.

The win also marked the Dolphins’ largest win with Flores at the helm and the team’s first double-digit win since their 35-9 defeat over the Broncos on December 3, 2017.

Miami played a complete game and the defense looked good for the first time this season. In Week 1, Miami couldn’t stop New England’s ground game, allowing for them to rush for 217 yards. And in Week 2, the Dolphins couldn’t contain the Bills at all and gave up 112 yards on the ground and a mind-blowing 411 yards by air. 

Why the Defense Looked Better 

Some might say that the Dolphins just played a bad team in the Jaguars. However, Jacksonville just came off a game against the Tennessee Titans in which they scored 30 points and recorded 480 total yards. The real factor in the defensive improvements were the adjustments made by the coaching staff.

“It was a mix of zone calls, man calls, blitzes,” head coach Brian Flores said about the defensive adjustments. “Thought we mixed it well, got some more balance. You never want to do just one thing or doing just a couple of things.”

Prior to the Week 3 matchup, Miami’s defensive philosophy was centered on man coverage, as they targeted players in free agency and the draft that could execute this scheme.

When Byron Jones left the game against the Bills due to injury, the Dolphins stuck primarily with man coverage and paid for it. It would’ve been interesting to see if the outcome would have been different if Jones didn’t get hurt. But what we do know is Jones was not available for the Jaguars game and it would’ve been foolish to approach that game with the same plan and expect different results. 

The change in the defensive scheme led to Xavien Howard’s first interception on the season. But no player benefited more from the game plan than rookie Noah Igbinoghene.

“You’ve got to be able to move on to the next play, next game, and try to be better, which they were last night,” said Flores when commenting on the bounceback play of his cornerbacks.

When Igbinoghene matched up against receiver Stefon Diggs in man coverage against Buffalo, he was torched for 153 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Against Jacksonville, Igbinoghene and the rest of the secondary held all wide receivers to under 50 yards. 

If the question is zone coverage versus man coverage, then the answer is both; especially with the Seattle Seahawks coming to town.

Russell Wilson is the NFL’s best deep-ball passer and D.K. Metcalf has been gashing teams with big plays in each game this season. Miami will need Jones to be healthy for this matchup, but also will need to continue to mix things up once he returns. 

For more Miami Dolphins Football, like us on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @TheJamieBahamas.

Lead Writer for 305Sports.net primarily covering the Miami Dolphins. Jamie is a lifelong sports fan and a student of the game. Jamie religiously attends Dolphins Home Games and considers Miami the coolest city on the planet. You can follow Jamie on Twitter @TheJamieBahamas and Instagram @JamieBahamas

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