Miami Dolphins defense wants to raise pressure on Baltimore
The Dolphins want to rattle Ravens rookie quarterback Joe Flacco, but to do that, team sack leader Joey Porter will need some help.
He'll get to it eventually, but sometimes the weight of success can add a few extra errands, as the former Pittsburgh Pro Bowler has learned in the past.
''Nobody wants to be around a loser,'' Porter jokes. ``You win a little bit, you get a couple more friends.''
But don't be fooled: that stack of letters at Porter's locker isn't solely the result of the Dolphins' two big victories, even if team success surely plays its part. Instead, those 6 ˝ sacks (currently tied for second-most in the NFL) surely help, too.
Now, if only the rest of his teammates can start to add some of the same.
As the Dolphins prepare to play the Ravens on Sunday, the defensive front is placing a major focus on spreading those sacks around. Porter's 6 ˝ sacks account for half of the team's total of 13 sacks.
So even though Porter is tied for second in the NFL, the unit as a whole is tied for 10th.
''Who got pressure'' on Houston quarterback Matt Schaub? nose guard Jason Ferguson said. ``Joey. That's it. So we've got to pick up our game. We've got to help him out. We've got to get some licks on him from the defensive line. That's part of our job, too.''
Middle linebacker Channing Crowder, who led the team with nine solo tackles against the Texans, was the only other Dolphins player to have a quarterback hurry in the game. Porter, who had the game's only sack, had five other hurries of his own.
And while it's important to remember Porter's place on the weakside puts him in more of a position to make those plays, Miami's unit knows it needs to create more of those opportunities in other places. Crowder said he thinks the group is getting very close.
''We want to increase the sacks, but it's just a matter of a half-of-a-second,'' Crowder said. ``I've been half-of-a-second away from four or five sacks this season, so they'll come. We just need to keep pushing, keep getting that pressure on the quarterback.''
Don't be surprised if the emphasis starts to show some dividends this weekend. The Dolphins face rookie quarterback Joe Flacco, who was sacked four times by the Colts last week and five times by Pittsburgh three weeks ago.
Borrowing a line from defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, Porter said it would be important for Miami to ``drag [Flacco] into the deep end of the pool and get after him.''
Essentially, the Dolphins' front wants to make the rookie as uncomfortable as possible.
Defensive end Matt Roth said he expects his team to use multiple disguises in their defensive package as a way to give Flacco looks he has yet to see during his NFL career. Just when Flacco thinks he picks up one scheme, the goal will be to surprise him with another.
''We've got to hit him, too,'' Roth said. ``We need to be physical with him. You get a few hits on him, and he starts wondering if they're blocking for him, his passes are going to be rushed. It's not like a veteran, who's always going to be calm and collected.''
But the Dolphins also realize Baltimore's game plan isn't likely to call for Flacco to carry the team to a victory.
Instead, it will be the Ravens' running game that's expected to carry most of the load if Baltimore is going to succeed.
The Ravens' rushing offense is averaging 133.2 yards per game (seventh in the NFL), but the passing offense is adding just 150.6 yards (tied for 28th in the league).
''If the run gets abandoned, now you're stuck,'' Porter said. ``And the game plan probably wasn't made for [Flacco] to pass the ball 40 times per game. If we take the run away, he'll have to pass it 35 times, and that favors us.''
But it only favors the Dolphins if they can take advantage of the opportunities -- and that includes finding a way to get everyone involved. Not just Porter. Then, maybe he'll also have some help handling the fan mail, as well.
''We got to do a better job of rushing the passer,'' coach Tony Sparano said. ``We just need more guys to the quarterback. The pressure has to come from other places as well. Our guys understand that.
``Whether it comes from two people or five people, I don't really care as long as we get there.''
“Superman ain't got nothing on me, ... Kryptonite? C'mon now.”