The first-year Dolphins cornerback joined The Finsiders to talk about defensive adjustments and how pace can affect production.
After a lackluster performance in the preseason opener, Marshall said defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle told the first-team defense in meetings that they need to “play with their hair on fire.”
“I don’t know what the problem was and why we weren’t getting to the ball fast, but the second group definitely showed what we want our defense to be,” Marshall said. “That’s something the first group and on down the line has got to pick up and start doing.”
The Dolphins defense has not been able to avoid the general wear and tear that typically starts creeping in towards the end of camp. The past few days, Cam Wake, Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett–who missed the preseason opener–all have sat. If these are just temporary setbacks, it could end up indirectly benefiting the team in the long term, building some depth at pressure positions. Observers have been impressed with Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby, the rookie defensive linemen who have flashed during training camp.
Collectively, though, Marshall has been pleased with the young players’ ability to step in.
“That’s something that makes Coach Coyle happy. It’s not just one guy making plays; it’s the whole defense making plays, a guy here, a guy there,” Marshall said. “That’s something we need to start priding ourselves in.
“Whenever you’re in there, regardless of if you’re a starter or a reserve guy, you need to get in there and don’t let the team down and just keep the steady pace of what we’re looking for on our defense.”
Joe Philbin’s practice structure has mostly been viewed through the context of the offense, probably because it’s more noticeable when they play and practice fast. But the pace has, maybe more indirectly, affected the defense, too. For a group that struggled some with conditioning after last year’s lockout, the experience should alleviate any concerns heading into the season.
“It will probably be easy for us, and we won’t get as tired,” Marshall said. “You’re going to get tired just because your emotions and everything are going to be building up in the first game. But, as far as tired where you can’t go, I don’t think we will have a problem with that.”
An offense usually goes no huddle or picks up the pace to get an opposing defense off kilter. If a defense is constantly substituting guys to stay fresh, then, in theory, the offense would be able to start dictating the action. But would the be case against the Dolphins defense? They have to face a lightning-quick offense in practice every day.
So to counter, an offense may decide to slow things down, just as Tampa Bay did last Friday.
“It was great for me because I wasn’t tired at all the whole time, just being able to go out there and just line up and wait for the offense to come out,” Marshall said. “It was great for me, but I didn’t sense anybody being tired or not able to go and keep the pace going.”
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