How Adam Gase is helping the Miami Dolphins secondary create turnovers

Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard celebrates an interception return for a touchdown on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke was pondering what the biggest difference was between the performance of his secondary in a humiliating loss at New England two weeks ago, and an impressive home win against Denver on Sunday.

“We caught the ball,” Burke said with a grin. “That’s something we’ve been talking about. I wish I could bottle that up.”

Against New England, there were massive mistakes, including mental errors which led to big busts and long gains.

Against Denver, the Dolphins defense allowed only three points, and recorded three interceptions.

Burke said Miami coach Adam Gase has been challenging the defense to create more turnovers.

“I give Adam a bit of credit, with some of the things he’s done in practice, in terms of just stressing really like putting an emphasis on getting our hands on balls, and attacking things,” Burke said. “And we’ve talked even with a guy like ‘X’ (Xavien Howard) for example, who I felt has been playing good coverage and that was that final step that he had to take. And so now he’s getting five pass breakups and catching the ball.”

Howard had the first two regular-season career interceptions of his career against Denver, including a touchdown return.

The Dolphins are still 30th in the NFL in turnover margin, so it’s going to continue to be a focus.

Miami had not had a cornerback record an interception this season before last Sunday.

“Just taking the step of finishing those plays,” Burke said. “Of not just being in ‘pretty good’ coverage. Or not just kind of being in good coverage and still allowing catches, but for us to finish those plays. And obviously to get our hands on a few picks. And to break up a few passes. It’s something we stress all the time.”

Burke said Gase has been harping on it in practice.

“It’s kind of been a team-wide thing,” Burke said. “From Adam’s side of things his big emphasis is not turning the ball over. So he’s been emphasizing even for the scout team guys, ‘Hey man, make us better. Like attack the ball. Strip it. Go after it in practice.’ And thus from the same side. So it’s team-wide thing. It’s become more of an emphasis. We have to protect the ball on offense and we have to attack the ball on defense. So I think the fruits of those labors are starting to show.”

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