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Dolphins moving from 3-4 to pressure-based 4-3 defense

Cameron Wake Pic

Primarily a 3-4 team for the better part of the last decade, the Dolphins are undergoing a fairly dramatic defensive shift under first-year coordinator Kevin Coyle. Coyle brought from Cincinnati to Miami a 4-3 alignment, with an emphasis on pressuring opposing quarterbacks.

“Obviously, applying pressure to the quarterback and disrupting the rhythm of the passing game is a huge part of defense in the NFL these days,” coach Joe Philbin explained, per Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post. “The scheme should be flexible enough that it takes advantage of what our guys can do.”

And the Dolphins believe the defensive front-seven members in place will adequately fill the newly assigned roles. Outside linebacker Cameron Wake is now a Dwight Freeney-style right defensive end. Jared Odrick, a “five technique” end in Miami’s old 3-4, is now a 4-3 left end who will likely kick to defensive tackle in sub-packages. Randy Starks and Tony McDaniel, formerly defensive ends, are now full-time defensive tackles.

Third-round rookie Olivier Vernon is a wildcard. He has explosive edge-rushing potential, and Volin says he’ll likely replace Odrick at end in nickel packages.

Volin expects Wake (pictured) to be the biggest beneficiary of the new pressure-based scheme as he’s “going back home” to his natural position. Odrick is on board with that:

“He bends better than anybody in the league, in terms of getting around the edge and to the quarterback.”

And that’ll be the goal of the Dolphins’ new defense.