Dolphins SS Yeremiah Bell had 43 career starts under his belt heading into the 2010 season, his seventh. That's almost twice as many as the rest of the Dolphins' starting secondary combined. And new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and the rest of the Dolphins' organization are counting on this young, inexperienced secondary to improve a pass defense that ranked 24th in the NFL last season.
Bell and company found success right away in Week One, holding the Bills to 116 passing yards. Nolan's schemes ask for a more attacking defense, allowing players in the secondary to fly around the field.
"It's excellent," Bell told PFW about being able to move around more on defense. "It takes me back to my college days when I got to roam around a bit. The more you get to move around and the more looks you can give a quarterback, the more you can disrupt what they're seeing."
Bell explained that the new defense allows players to be more offensive. "We want to make teams adjust to us and not always be on our heels, having to adjust to what they do," he said.
Starting alongside Bell in the secondary are second-year CB Vontae Davis (nine career starts heading into 2010), fifth-year veteran CB Jason Allen (12 starts) and second-year FS Chris Clemons (two starts). The following quarterbacks will test the inexperienced group this season: Brett Favre, Tom Brady (twice), Carson Palmer, Jay Cutler and Ben Roethlisberger.
"We know that we have challenges coming up, but we know what we have to do to be successful as a team. It's my job to make sure those young guys are staying on their toes and getting their study time," said Bell.
One of the young guys who stepped up in Week One was Clemons, who recorded two tackles for loss. "Chris Clemons is going to be a good player. From Day One, he was asking all the right questions, watching every film. He wanted to get it right. He has done a good job of making sure that he has the sideline locked up," said Bell.
The young defense will have its hands full, playing six 2009 playoff teams in its next seven games, with the Steelers being the one exception. But Bell has confidence in his unit. "If those guys couldn't play, they wouldn't be out there."