Following the 17-14 loss to the Bills that eliminated the Dolphins from playoff contention, WR Brandon Marshall made an apology.
"I want to apologize to the defensive guys, especially the players. All year they played their hearts out; they played together. They played like a unit's supposed to play," he said.
When the 'Fins look back at their disappointing 2010 campaign, there is one thing they can hang their hats on: the defense, which certainly is not the reason they will be home for the postseason. Their overall defense jumped from 22nd to fourth in the league, with their passing defense making the leap from 24th in 2009 to sixth this season. In his second season, CB Vontae Davis is part of that improvement. Davis had his struggles as a rookie but is getting respect around the league for his play.
"I learned a lot my first year as far as studying and learning what I need to do on different formations. I became more mature my second year," Davis told PFW.
The corner out of Illinois got national attention in Week Two when he picked off Brett Favre. The future Hall of Fame quarterback called Davis one of the best cornerbacks that no one knew about. "That was real high praise from a guy who's been in the league and seen lots of cornerbacks," Davis said.
Davis hasn't made too many headlines since Week Two, with many quarterbacks avoiding his side of the field. On the season, Davis ranks second on the team in passes defensed with 11. He has also played a role on kick coverage to help improve the special-teams unit.
"My job is to do anything to help the Miami Dolphins win. That's why they brought me here, to be a difference maker."
This season's defensive star, OLB Cameron Wake, also helps the passing defense with his relentless pursuit of quarterbacks. "It makes my job a lot easier since the ball has to come out faster when a guy like Wake, a great pass rusher, is getting after the quarterback," said Davis.
Wake is having a career year, and the defensive line has been stellar. CB Sean Smith regained his starting role opposite Davis in the middle of the season, and the second-year player is regaining some confidence. And we haven't even mentioned veterans Karlos Dansby and Yeremiah Bell. The nucleus of Mike Nolan's Dolphins defense is both young and strong.