Miami Dolphins’ Andre Branch blames 2017 season on complacency

Dolphins defensive end Andre Branch during organized team activities Wednesday. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

DAVIE — Two days, two defensive veterans, one conclusion.

A major reason the Dolphins’ defense didn’t set the world on fire last season was because it didn’t have much fire itself. Cornerback Bobby McCain said so Tuesday, and on Wednesday, defensive end Andre Branch seconded that narrative.

“There’s a sense of urgency now,” Branch said. “Last year was kind of complacent for us.”

Compare that to what McCain said.

“Personally, I feel like we lost a bit of fire,” McCain said. “We lost that spark to get us going. … We lost that … ‘Your back is against the wall, go get it.’ The year before, if the offense makes a turnover, OK, boom. The ball is on our own territory on the 20-yard line, let’s stop them to a field goal.’ We kind of lost that go out and get it, go out and make a stop (attitude).”

The defense ranked 16th in the league last season, which actually represented an improvement over the No. 29 ranking the year before. But it’s nowhere near what the Dolphins paid for — especially when Ndamukong Suh was around — nor is it what they need if they continue to be offensively challenged.

Branch, for one, expects coordinator Matt Burke’s unit to be much improved in 2018.

“We know what we have,” Branch said. “We can’t make excuses now. It’s time to really live up to that and put on.”

Defensive tackle Davon Godchaux was asked to compare this offseason to last year, when he was a rookie.

“This one is intense,” he said.

Godchaux attributed some of it to new line coach Kris Kocurek’s style.

“He’s big on effort and he’s big on attacking,” Godchaux said. “Last year we weren’t attacking as much.”

Now it’s a matter of carrying it through the season — and making sure players aren’t bemoaning in similar ways next summer.

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