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Chris Perkins: New Dolphins defensive coordinator must bring Ravens-style toughness

Here’s hoping new Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver brings some nastiness with him, some meanness, some bad attitude filled with bad intentions.

It’s a necessity.

Let’s state this in clear and certain terms: This Dolphins team needs toughness, and the toughness must come from the defense.

It’s fine for Miami’s offense to celebrate touchdowns with conga lines and pre-arranged skits, to win with speed and pre-snap motion. They play offense. They’re entertainers.

The defense needs more grit.

Here’s hoping the 43-year-old Weaver, a rising star in NFL coaching circles after having head coach interviews with Washington and Atlanta, packs some of that break-your-will, crush-your-spirit defensive physicality that was a hallmark of the Baltimore Ravens, where he spent the past two years as assistant head coach/defensive line coach.

Last season the Dolphins were hammered by the best teams in the AFC. Miami was beaten twice by Kansas City, twice by Buffalo, and beaten so badly by Baltimore (37-point margin) it could have counted for two losses. Miami was bullied in each instance.

Miami’s defense needs enforcers.

Defensive lineman Christian Wilkins, a potential free agent, has that characteristic. Linebacker David Long Jr. has it. Safety DeShon Elliott, a potential free agent, has it as well. They have that edge.

That’s the type of attitude the Dolphins need, and it’s the type of attitude the Dolphins need Weaver to bring out in his players.

To ensure we have our priorities in order, Weaver, first and foremost, has to significantly improve the Dolphins defense.

Miami’s defense can’t allow 48 points, as it did at Buffalo, or 56 points, as it did at Baltimore, or allow 15 points in the final four minutes, as it did against Tennessee.

So, matching the scheme with the talent and the coaching, and being sure all three hold up under pressure, is the No. 1 priority. Make no mistake about that.

But close behind that is establishing a calling card, a trait, and hopefully that means a physical, punch-you-in-the-mouth mentality.

Former Dolphins standouts that fit this mold include defensive linemen Randy Starks and Paul Soliai, safety Reshad Jones and linebacker Elandon Roberts.

They were all tough guys and quality players.

Life’s rough in the AFC nowadays.

Just look at the opposing quarterbacks in this conference.

Weaver, who has also coached with the New York Jets (2012), Buffalo (2013) and Cleveland (2014-15), knows them well.

He obviously knows Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, the likely MVP this season. There’s also Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, the future Hall of Famer. And then there’s Buffalo’s Josh Allen, Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence, Houston’s C.J. Stroud, Los Angeles ChargersJustin Herbert and Cleveland’s DeShaun Watson. Oh, and there’s another future Hall of Famer, the Jets’ Aaron Rodgers.

That could be an intimidating road to the Super Bowl.

A lot more toughness, mixed with a little nastiness, could go a long way for the Dolphins defense.

We can safely suspect Weaver wants to stop the run, firstly. That was the priority in Baltimore.

I like that approach. This defense was effective at stopping the run last season. It finished No. 7 in the league (97.1 yards allowed per game).

But that wasn’t enough.

The Dolphins defense finished No. 10 in the league (318.3 yards allowed per game). It was good at times, but it didn’t impose its will on opposing offenses.

The defense allowed 32 points per game in seven games against playoff teams last season.

The Dolphins can’t continue getting smacked around by the best teams in the AFC.

The defense, which was 20th in the league on third-down conversions (38.9%), needs to take a stand.

It’s up to Weaver to make that happen.

By all accounts, Weaver is a self-starter and a bright young mind. His background is an interesting mixture.

Weaver is a former defensive end from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., a Notre Dame team captain and 2002 second-round pick of the Ravens. In Baltimore, he played under defensive line coach/defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, the man who would give him his NFL coaching start with the Jets.

As a coach, Weaver learned from longtime defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, who is known for blitzing and attacking, in Baltimore, and Houston’s Romeo Crennel, known for his aggressive 3-4 defense, and Mike Vrabel, whose defenses generally stop the run.

That’s good because that type of result generally comes with a hard hat, lunch-pail defensive mentality.

And that’s exactly what this Dolphins defense needs.