A blowout loss to a division rival has left Miami Dolphins players disappointed and with injured pride, according to defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
The players were disappointed. Pride is hurt. Players are upset. – Vic Fangio, Dolphins DC
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) October 5, 2023
Miami had its three-game winning streak unceremoniously snapped with a discouraging 48-20 loss at the Buffalo Bills last Sunday. The setback at the hands of their primary competition in the AFC East came after a spectacular 70-20 win against the Denver Broncos the week before.
Despite the 3-0 start to the season, the Dolphins defense was still a work in progress in its first season under Fangio. Miami did allow 433 total yards to the Los Angeles Chargers in a 36-34 win in Week 1 and 363 yards to Denver in that blowout victory in Week 3.
The Dolphins then lost for the first time by allowing 414 total yards and giving up six touchdowns to the Bills. Entering Week 5 against the New York Giants, the Dolphins defense ranks 26th in the NFL in total yards allowed, 25th in passing yards allowed, 22nd in rushing yards allowed and 28th in points allowed per game.
That was not expected to be the case under Fangio, who arrived with the reputation as one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL. To be fair, the Dolphins have been without star cornerback Jalen Ramsey after he injured his knee during training camp and have played two games without standout pass rusher Jaelan Phillips, who has an oblique injury.
Miami’s top-ranked offense has been able to overcome and drawn attention away from the defensive shortcomings. The Dolphins do find themselves in a get-right spot Sunday at home against the New York Giants, who just allowed 11 sacks and committed three turnovers in a dismal 24-3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night. The Giants rank next to last in the league in total yards gained and last in points scored per game.
Appealing to the players’ pride is a tried-and-true coaching tactic and probably something Fangio has used numerous times in his long career. Now the Dolphins will find out if he can reach those players and if they will respond to that challenge while facing one of the worst offensive teams in the NFL.