In a Dolphins season tarnished by a coaching scandal, a player going AWOL, a 3 ½ game stretch of offensive ineptitude and multiple significant injuries, here?s something the Dolphins should be very happy about:

Most of the defensive newcomers have exceeded expectations. And that?s a big reason why the run defense is dramatically better.

Lawrence Timmons and to a lesser extent, Rey Maualuga, have elevated the play of the linebackers alongside reliable Kiko Alonso. Rookie Charles Harris and more so, veteran William Hayes have made an impact at defensive end.

Rookie fifth-rounders Davon Godchaux and to a lesser extent, sixth-rounder Vincent Taylor have been a godsend at defensive tackle.

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© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

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© Jorge Plaza

© Jorge Marquez