The Dolphins on Monday announced the firing of defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, whose unit backslid in the second year of the Bill Parcells regime.
Miami ranked 22nd in the NFL in yards allowed after finishing 15th one year earlier. One problem was big plays -- the Dolphins gave up 14 scoring passes of 20 yards or more, second-highest in the NFL.
The team made the announcement in a two-sentence statement without explanation. No replacement was announced.
Pasqualoni joined the Dolphins as part of Sparano's first staff after Parcells took over football operations two years ago.
Sparano and Pasqualoni worked together as assistants with the Dallas Cowboys. Pasqualoni was head coach at Syracuse from 1991 to 2004, leading the Orangemen to a 107-59-1 record and nine bowl appearances.
The Dolphins won the AFC East in 2008, but they finished 7-9 this season, and defense was part of the problem. Rookie cornerbacks Sean Smith and Vontae Davis settled into starting jobs and had encouraging seasons, but newcomer Gibril Wilson was a dismal failure at free safety, and the outside linebacker tandem of Jason Taylor and Joey Porter failed to produce the expected results.
Missed tackles and missed assignments plagued the unit at times, and run defense became a problem after nose tackle Jason Ferguson was sidelined by a season-ending quadriceps injury in November. Miami finished 18th in the league in run defense after ranking 10th in 2008.
Another problem was fading at the finish. The Dolphins gave up 140 points in the fourth quarter, a club record and the most in the NFL.
"It takes 11 guys," strong safety Yeremiah Bell said the day after the season ended. "And we didn't always play like there were 11 out there."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press