The Miami Dolphins are heading into one of their most crucial seasons in decades, and three players appear poised for a breakout year.
The Miami Dolphins are entering a pivotal year in their history. Mike McDaniel enters his first season as head coach, and the team arguably has the most talent we’ve seen since the Dan Marino era. However, many players’ fates lie in their production this year.
Namely, this is considered a make-or-break year for Tua Tagovailoa, who has had a divisive first two seasons. If he fails to take the next step, there is a high chance we see him replaced before the 2023 season.
There are several players on the team who appear ready to take the next step. It’s difficult to predict Miami Dolphins breakout players, but the stars seem to be aligning for these three players in particular.
Defensive tackle Raekwon Davis had an up-and-down start to last season. Miami had given up significant yardage on the ground in the first two weeks, but after he went down with a knee injury, the impact he had on the team began to show.
After week one, Miami lost seven straight games, and their run defense was a large part of it. Even though he only missed three games, it was clear that he wasn’t 100 percent. However, as he became closer to full form, Miami’s defense transformed itself. They won significantly more up front. However, it was others who reaped the benefits.
It’s possible, however, that production and numbers align for Davis this year. Emmanuel Ogbah, Jaelan Phillips, and Andrew Van Ginkel have all improved in their time here. Thus, they will all garner more attention from offensive coordinators and O-lines. If they see more double teams, it’s likely Miami’s interior lineman, namely Davis, get free more often, wreaking havoc in the run and pass game.
Safety Jevon Holland had one of the best rookie seasons Dolphins fans have seen in quite some time. Playing in centerfield, Holland had the middle of the field on lockdown. He showed the ball-hawking ability that he was praised for at Oregon, and even snagged two interceptions. However, there is still room for improvement.
Holland passed the eye test, but his stats were a primary reason that he didn’t gain the attention of the national media. If he is able to turn more of his PBUs into INTs, it’s very possible he’s in the same conversation as All-Pro safeties like Kevin Byard and Jordan Poyer.
Entering his second year in Miami’s defensive scheme, there will be a new level of comfort for Holland. When you combine that with his supporting cast, it raises the likelihood of a breakout season for one of the Dolphins most promising young players.
The dark horse pick of the group, a breakout season for Noah Igbinoghene is likely just wishful thinking. Miami’s cornerbacks are arguably their strongest group, and the first round pick has struggled to see the field. Furthermore, his play, in limited opportunity, hasn’t been promising.
However, the tools with Igbinoghene are all there, and it was known that he would take some time to develop. Over the last two years, the 22 year old has sat under two of the best corners in the league: Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. Being able to learn from them without the pressure of stepping in right away allows for a focus on improvement.
Igbinoghene likely won’t see significant snaps outside, but if slated nickel starter Nik Needham struggles, it’s possible they look in the former Auburn Tiger’s direction. He has all of the athletic tools and is one of the youngest players on the team, so a major leap isn’t out of the question.
The Miami Dolphins’ breakout potential is the highest we’ve seen in years, and Igbinoghene, as well as Davis and Holland, show a potential to help this team reach new heights in 2022.
Tracing the the continuing effect of the blockbuster trade that saw Laremy Tunsil go to Houston and hope come to South Florida.
September 1st 2019. A date to remember for Dolphins fans. A date that signaled the start of another Dolphins rebuild that has today culminated in Miami trading for Tyreek Hill. In fact it is hard to remember what players have actually come about through this trade, due to Chris Grier’s ability to commit daylight robbery on the rest of the NFL. This article will trace all of the moves and trades that have come about through by the Laremy Tunsil trade.
Noah Igbinoghene 2020 Round 1 Pick 30
While the Laremy Tunsil trade and all that followed has undoubtedly been the best thing to happen to Miami for a very long period of time, it didn’t exactly start off well. Noah Igbinoghene has been underwhelming to say the least, hardly seeing the field behind a very strong Dolphins’ secondary.
Noah is an athletic freak, but is far from competing for a starting position in this defense. However, we may be proven wrong.
Solomon Kindley 2020 Round 4 Pick 111 (via GB)
Perhaps it was a trend in 2020 that the Dolphins didn’t necessarily have the best draft. Solomon Kindley was a starter throughout his rookie season switching between right and left guard.
However, Kindley spent much of 2021 watching a historically bad offensive line from the side lines. Kindley started the 2021 season very much on the wrong foot, showing up to training camp overweight and playing with the third string players.
However, all hope for Kindley may not be lost. He is clearly making a big push in his offseason program to bring himself back into contention this season. With the left side of the line now solidified with the introduction of Terron Armstead and Connor Williams, could Kindley go back to right guard and push Robert Hunt to right tackle?
Jaylen Waddle 2021 Round 1 Pick 6
Jaylen Waddle is a bona fide star, nothing more needs to be said. Despite all the moving around in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Dolphins eventually got their guy and more.
PFWA All Rookie Honors, most catches by a player in their rookie season, over 1000 yards receiving and six TDs, Waddle is a sure-fire home run pick.
Waddle was the Dolphins offense in 2021, and will likely feast just as much with a greatly improved Dolphins’ offense system in store for 2022.
Jevon Holland 2021 Round 2 Pick 36
Jevon Holland quickly established himself as an elite talent in the Dolphins’ secondary — and one of the best young defenders in the NFL.
Holland finished his rookie season with 69 tackles, 10 passes defended, three fumble recoveries, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions. Not bad for a rookie. Like Waddle, Holland earned All Rookie honors and is a sure-fire home run pick.
Tyreek Hill Trade
All season, fans were discontent as they saw their 2022 draft pick get worse and worse. Miami traded away their own first round pick in 2022, electing to keep that of the 49ers that they gained when trading from 3 to 12 and then back to 6 in the 2021 NFL Draft to take Waddle.
Today that rhetoric has changed dramatically. Miami has traded the 29th pick, together with other picks, for Tyreek Hill. Yes that’s right, Tyreek Hill.
In his career with the Chiefs the Cheetah produced all over the field. Hill amassed 479 receptions for 6,630 rec yards, 56 rec TD’s, 93 rushes for 719 rushing yards, and six rushing TD’s. Hill also added 100 returns, 1393 return yards and five return TD’s as a primary returner for the Chiefs.
Now of course, there will be some wise crack somewhere that will say that the Dolphins had to give up more than just the pick that they got from the Tunsil trade.
They would be correct. Miami gave up an additional 2nd round pick, two fourth rounders and a 6th rounder. All for a top-10 talent in the NFL.
Tunsil to Tyreek
As if three Pro Bowl-caliber players were not enough, Miami still nearly three years later holds an additional first rounder and third rounder in the 2023 Draft that have come about from the Laremy Tunsil trade.
Chris Grier ought to be applauded for the job that he has done in turning two firsts and a second round pick into the collection of players that he has. All while retaining flexibility for the Dolphins to do as they please in the future. The future looks very bright indeed.
Miami won for the 4th time in a row, in convincing fashion, and the Dolphins vs Panthers All-22 Film tells an interesting story of the game.
For the fourth week in a row, the Dolphins have found themselves as winners. This time, Miami won in decisive fashion vs the Panthers, with a final score of 33-10.
This game brought hope to Dolphins fans, and for good reason. This game showed the formula many thought they would at the beginning of the season. A combination of stellar defense and opportunistic, ball-control-based offense has gotten Miami wins over the last four games.
When watching the All-22 tape on NFL Gamepass, it was clear that Miami’s plan is starting to work out, and here are five things that stood out when watching the film for Dolphins vs Panthers.
Fantastic Phillip Lindsay
Following being waived by the Houston Texans, running back Phillip Lindsay was claimed by the Miami Dolphins, who were looking for another back to complement young guns Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed.
Coming off a short week, it was uncertain if Lindsay would play, but, as he explained, he was quick to get into the facility and study the playbook.
It was clear that the hard work, even in minimum snaps, has paid off. The two-time thousand-yard rusher showed, even with a below-average OL, why he was so successful in Denver.
Above all other traits, his burst and awareness have stood out. Other backs, especially Myles Gaskin, seem to wait for holes to develop. This, although valuable with a good OL, becomes an issue when there isn’t time to sit back.
Lindsay, on the other hand, is constantly moving. Even when the hole isn’t there, his feet are always driving forward, raising his floor on yards to gain. Even when he gets tackled early in the play, his forward momentum keeps him from losing yards.
Along with this, his pass blocking is a thing of beauty. On QB Tua Tagovailoa’s 57-yard pass to Jaylen Waddle, Lindsay makes up for OT Liam Eichenberg, who got beat on the play. Coming out of the backfield, he demonstrated textbook blocking, attacking the rusher and providing his quarterback a throwing window.
The Tuscaloosa Connection
Throughout college, Tua Tagovailoa found success in getting the ball out quickly in the RPO game, typically to his track team at wide receiver. The Dolphins, after drafting Tua thought that the best way to maximize the young quarterback was getting his collegiate teammate, Jaylen Waddle.
Through the first few games of the season, it was apparent that Tua and Waddle had chemistry, the level of which was unknown.
Now, however, as the season progresses, we can see that the 2nd year quarterback is significantly more comfortable with Waddle than any other receiver.
Throughout the game vs the Panthers, Tagovailoa targeted Waddle on a variety of looks, including several tightly contested looks, which contradicted notions on Tua coming out of college that he was unwilling to make risky throws.
More impressive, however, was the ability that Tua and Waddle have to know when the ball is coming out, and where. Tua, through repetition and natural chemistry, consistently throws the ball to Waddle before, or as, he’s coming out of his break. A prime example of this is the touchdown between the two.
When Tua releases the ball on a curl route, Waddle has yet to turn around and has three defenders near him. The ball was not only thrown early, but also put in a perfect spot for the rookie to make the play. That anticipation was a trait Tua was praised for at Alabama, and it seems Waddle is bringing it out now.
This was not the only instance of this chemistry, however, as the aforementioned 57-yard play showed the duo’s promise as well.
Following the Lindsay block, Tua put the ball right in the middle of the field as Waddle made his break. Knowing his ability to move after the catch, his throw gave Waddle ample room to work, even with a safety coming down.
Tagovailoa and Waddle connected nine times for 137 yards and a touchdown, and this game looked promising for the duo.
However, Dolphins fans and media alike had seemed to forget about the first-round pick, Jaelan Phillips. Coming out of UM, Phillips was regarded as a potentially elite pass rusher with a deep bag of tricks. This left Miami fans excited when he fell to them at the 18th pick.
Despite the hype, however, Phillips had failed to produce by all simple counting stats. While it seemed that he was getting close, he was rarely able to get home. Dolphins fans became frustrated, and it seemed that the optimism for Phillips faded as it grew for Waddle and Holland.
When the Dolphins took on the Panthers, all of it started to come together.
Coming out Party
Against an offensive line ranked among the worst in the league, Phillips was able to tally three sacks, a pass deflection, and a pressure leading to an INT.
The numbers, however, weren’t as impressive as the tape on the plays themselves.
In particular, his work from the inside, with Emmanuel Ogbah on the edge, was spectacular. With Ogbah taking an outside route, Phillips was often left 1-on-1 with a guard. His combination of size and speed left these guards in the dust, and him in the backfield at will. With a skill-set as refined as Phillips’, it will be very difficult to stop him without tackle help.
It’s clear that Miami has something special with Ogbah and Phillips, and I suspect they will use that pairing on the same side more often.
These concerns lingered into the season, as Miami’s offense was dwelling near the bottom of the league. Many were calling for the jobs of Studesville and Godsey, and Miami had lost seven straight.
However, they seemed to have found their stride in the winning streak, both of which continued on Sunday.
Operating out of heavy pistol sets with lots of pre-snap motion, Miami was able to create misdirection. The threat of motion-man Albert Wilson stressed defenses to his side, while Jaylen Waddle and Durham Smythe were able to find soft spots in coverage.
Miami also used these looks to create counters from a play they love to run: the wheel to Albert Wilson.
Against both the Jets and Ravens, Miami teased this formation, running a deep wheel route to Wilson in both games. It was clear Miami wanted defenses to pick up the idea, and I had clamored on Twitter for counters.
Those wishes came to fruition on Sunday, as Miami ran almost their entire offense out of this formation. This base set led to several different runs, short and intermediate passes. With the Panthers expecting the wheel route, Miami was able to catch Carolina off guard and tear them apart underneath.
The offense will still need to improve over the coming weeks, but they are trending up during the most important stretch of their season.
Area Of Improvement
Even in a 23-point win, there were areas of the team that were less than ideal. One that stuck out was the offensive line.
On three separate occasions, Miami’s offensive lineman gave up pressures or bad snaps that ruined potential scoring drives.
On separate drives, Jesse Davis and Liam Eichenberg were beaten badly, leading to crucial sacks on Tua and then punts.
The other drive, before the half, contained one of Austin Reiter’s several bad snaps. After going too low, Tua was unable to recover the snap, and Carolina turned a potential Miami FG into one of their own.
If Miami is to continue their streak, eliminating drive-ending mistakes is crucial, and those start with the OL.
The Bottom Line
The Miami Dolphins are showing signs of life, and are only two games below 500. With games against the Giants and Jets upcoming, Miami has a chance to contend for a playoff spot.
Whether it’s too late is yet to be determined, but Miami has continued to improve over the last month. The tape continues to get better, and Miami looks like the team we envisioned back in August.
The coming weeks will be the most telling, and it will be exciting to see if Miami can complete the miraculous comeback season.
Jevon Holland has been an exciting element of the Dolphins defense, and his most recent performance shows that it’s his time to shine.
The Miami Dolphins are winners of two in a row after beating the Ravens 22-10 on Thursday night, in large part due to stellar defense and the emergence of rookie Jevon Holland.
This Baltimore team wasn’t like the ones of the past, showcasing less of a slashing run game. Instead, they opted for more of a vertical passing attack. This can be partially attributed to the loss of number 1 and 2 running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards.
Nonetheless, Miami knew Baltimore wanted to run long-developing routes, and they had a plan to stop it.
To give Jackson little time to improvise, Miami showed cover-0 (an all-out blitz look) a staggering 40 times on Thursday night. Thus, guaranteeing shorter passes and free hits on the quarterback, preventing the playmaking Jackson from operating in his comfort zone.
Miami often dropped in-line defenders towards the center of the field to shore up soft spots, while sending safeties and linebackers into the backfield.
The key to this aggressive defense, however, came from a new face in the DB room, rookie safety Jevon Holland.
In the 2nd round of the 2020 Draft, Miami made a decision that many questioned. Instead of making a trade for fan-favorite running back Javonte Williams, the Dolphins selected Jevon Holland one pick later.
After having a promising first two seasons at Oregon, Holland sat out in 2020 due to COVID concerns. Thus, much like other players, he lost the ability to show NFL scouts he was a first-round talent.
When the NFL Draft came around, the opinion on Holland was mixed. While most scouts liked his traits and performance, a lack of experience left him in varying places on big boards. It was difficult to tell where safeties such as Holland, Trevon Moehrig, and Richie Grant would land.
However, Miami seemed to have an affinity for Holland. His ability to play almost everywhere on the field caught Brian Flores and Chris Grier’s eyes, especially for a defense that uses a myriad of different coverages.
This, as we know, ultimately led to Miami taking Holland, making him the first safety drafted in 2021.
Early Season Spark
Through the beginning of his rookie season, Holland showed flashes. Standout plays such as sacks on Matt Ryan and big hits on Jonnu Smith made waves on social media. Fans and media began to see why Holland was taken so highly, and it seemed he just needed a moment to shine.
It seemed that this time had manifested against the Houston Texans. Just after Miami’s defense put together a pretty strong outing against the Bills, they looked to gain some momentum and potentially salvage the season.
With Miami facing a potential 8th straight loss, Holland made a huge play. Coming over from the middle of the field, he was able to intercept a pass in the back corner of the end zone.
Showcasing his range and playmaking ability that led to nine interceptions in his first two college seasons, it was clear that Miami had uncovered a gem. It was just time to display it to the national media.
With the Baltimore Ravens coming to town, it was clear that Miami’s defense had a major test. After failing to stop dual-threat quarterbacks in Brian Flores’ first two years as head coach, this would be one of their toughest challenges to date.
With the lights shining their brightest, it was the rookie Holland who stepped up to the plate.
With Miami using more of a blitz-heavy scheme, more responsibility was placed on the safeties. The Dolphins overloaded the box, often giving Brandon Jones and Holland a free rush. The key was getting there quick enough, rushing the ball from Lamar Jackson’s hands.
Being a crucial part of Miami’s gameplan, Holland’s pressures caused Lamar’s passes to come out quickly and inaccurately. He was even able to tally a sack against Baltimore’s elusive QB, in which his speed off the edge gave Jackson little time to react.
On several occasions, he was able to move across the field and prevent big plays.
One particular play saw Holland begin on the opposite side of the formation on a jet sweep. After the receiver got to the second level, the young safety was able to get to the second level and make a play on the ball. His hit to force Duvernay out of bounds was extremely important, as he was the last line of defense, giving room for a potential touchdown.
His ability to threaten the entirety of the field while playing free safety gives the Dolphins much more margin for error, allowing them to run the exotic defenses we’ve seen recently.
The Bottom Line
It’s clear that Jevon Holland has the makings of the elite defensive back for the Dolphins, and his progression through the first 10 weeks has been immense. Miami has used him in a myriad of ways, and I expect that trend to continue.
Holland’s young career has been fun to watch thus far, and I only expect him to grow as it unfolds.
The Miami Dolphins stunned everyone with an upset win vs the Baltimore Ravens. Not only did Miami beat the Ravens, but they dominated most of the game. Even though it was a snooze fest of a game until the fourth quarter, Dolphin fans have a reason to be excited again. Here are some key takeaways from Miami’s stunning win vs the Ravens.
Defense Looks Dominant Again
Last night, the Dolphins defense looked like one of the best in the NFL. Holding one of the NFL’s best and hottest players in Lamar Jackson to just 277 all purpose yards. Not only that, but the Dolphins defense also had one interception, four sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery that went for a touchdown vs the Ravens.
Xavien Howard got the game going with a forced fumble that he recovered and took it 49 yards for a score. Justin Coleman had the same sealing interception in the end zone with less than a minute left in the game. But this was all thanks to Lamar being uncomfortable all night.
Jaelan Philips, Andrew Van Ginkle, Emmanuel Ogbah, Brandon Jones, and Jevon Holland were in Lamar’s face all game. Lamar was blitzed essentially all game and it turned out to work for Miami.
Tua Fills In and Delivers
For the second straight week Tua Tagovailoa was active even with his finger injury. But for the second straight week Tua was the active back-up. This was until the third quarter when Jacoby Brissett went down with a knee injury.
On the next drive Brissett tried to go back in and head coach Brian Flores waved him off and called Tua’s number. At first it was evident that his finger is really injured, killing any “benching” speculation.
That being said, as the game went on, Tua did look more comfortable and started to throw better. He had some throws that made you shake your head but it is clear that it was due to his finger. Postgame Tua clarified that his finger “does not feel good”. but he stayed strong and played through it.
Tua’s highlights from last night are his deep throw to Jaylen Waddle and Albert Wilson along with his one yard quarterback sneak to score a touchdown. With the extended week due to playing on Thursday night, hopefully Tua uses this time so he is 100% by the next game against the New York Jets.
Run Game and Offensive Line Leave Question Marks
Even though the Dolphins played their best game of the season vs the Ravens, there was still negatives. The run game still isn’t where it should be. Myles Gaskins was the only rusher with over 10 carries and averaged 2.2 yards per carry. That is including his long of 11 yards. No team in the NFL should be able to win like this consistently, so Miami needs to figure out their run game woes.
The offensive line for Miami also did not play their best. As I said above Tua only got in the game due to Brissett getting hurt. The Ravens only had four saves, but had a total of 13 quarterback hits.
The run game also looked horrendous part due to part of the offensive line. Liam Eichenberg allowed several pressures and was the one who allowed the sack that got Brissett hurt. It will be something to keep an eye on if Miami decides to switch up the offensive line during their long week.
Familiar Faces Return
Albert Wilson and Isaiah Ford were the lead receivers for the Dolphins last night. Both tied with a game high four catches and both led the Dolphins in receiving yards. Wilson had 87 yards compared to Ford’s 84.
The question of “where has Albert Wilson been?” finally got answered as Miami finally used him properly. Miami sent him on a wheel route on an RPO and gained 64 yards on his biggest play of the night. He also ran a number of screens where he flashed his ability to make people miss consistently. It will be interesting if Miami keeps using Wilson throughout the season or if this was a “gameplay” situation.
Ford also came through for Miami as he had a number of catches when Miami was in a hurry up offense. Besides not stepping out of bounds in an obvious situation, Ford was impressive. He showed that he can be Miami’s number three or even two receiver if need be.
Rookies Jevon Holland and Jaylen Waddle received public praise from the media and the Ravens players. While Jaelan Phillips had his best game to date. Holland was all over the field and broke up a deep ball that was intended for Marquise Brown early in the game.
In addition to that, Holland stuffed the stat sheet, with five tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, two pass deflections, and a quarterback hit, it seems Chris Grier made have drafted a budding star.
Jaylen Waddle was also a key contributor as he was on the receiving end of Tua’s clutch throw in the fourth quarter. Waddle had four catches for 61 yards and its clear that Miami is making an effort to use him properly. He also drew a ton of attention as the defense always made sure they knew where he was. Waddle as normal was also both Brissett’s and Tua’s security blanket.
Jaelan Phillips impressed fans last week with a great game, but this week he was even better. Even though he only had half a sack and one quarterback hit, he was always around the ball and in Lamar’s face all night. He made sure Lamar didn’t scramble all over Miami and chased him down whenever he tried too.
Overall the Dolphins performance vs the Ravens showed how good of a team they can be. Even with the offensive line and run game not being the best they still outplayed the Ravens. The play-calling wasn’t the best but we have defiantly seen worse this year.
Let’s hope Miami is able to carry this momentum through the season and show that they are better than their current record of 3-7 and potentially fight for a playoff spot.