Dolphins fans haven’t had a lot to be excited about in the past few years, but after winning the last five games, the Dolphins are officially the hottest team in football and a legitimate playoff contender.
If you would have told a Dolphins fan that they would have been 6-3 and firmly in the wild card race, they most likely would have told you that the success spurred from rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa posting incredible numbers.
While the former Alabama standout has been incredibly efficient through three games, the scariest part of this Dolphins team is that they don’t have to have Tagovailoa ball out to win this season, as Cameron Wolfe of ESPN mentioned yesterday.
“Sunday’s game also showed how the Dolphins win as a team. Tagovailoa didn’t need to carry his team to victory. He didn’t light it up with a superstar, 300-plus-yard passing day like Herbert and Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow have done this season, but he continues to enjoy fruits they haven’t consistently tasted: winning. Through three games, Tagovailoa has more wins (three) than Herbert (two) or Burrow (two).”
The potential of this Dolphins team flies through the roof when Tagovailoa plays well, but they have played like a complete team in recent weeks, giving Tua time to develop while the team continues to win games.
NFL coaches often refer to special teams as the third side of the ball. The Dolphins have turned that trope into a legitimate asset, as thanks to a number of blocked punts and quality returns, the Dolphins have the second-best special teams unit in the NFL, per Football Outsiders.
The vast defensive improvement in the passing game has also helped the Dolphins through this win streak, as they rank in they have allowed the eighth-lowest completion rate.
This is a pass defense that is getting better each week, especially with Xavien Howard being healthy now. The fifth-year corner has caught five interceptions this season, which is the second-highest mark in the league.
Head coach Brian Flores has this team firing on all cylinders and is single-handedly disproving the perception of Bill Belichick disciples fail when they leave the Patriots organization.
As Flores told the media following Sunday’s win against the Los Angeles Chargers, this team can win in multiple ways and has the mental toughness to keep winning and keep turning heads.
“We have a mentally tough team,” Flores said after the game, per Jim Trotter of NFL.com. “This team, they know that it’s important. We know it’s hard to win in this league, and we just take it one game at a time. We’re not looking down the road; we’re looking at the next day, the next meeting, the next practice and just trying to take it one day at a time. That’s my message to the team on a daily basis, and hopefully they’re kind of listening to it.”
With an efficient rookie quarterback, a top-2 special teams unit, and a scrappy defense that gets better every week, this Dolphins win streak isn’t ending any time soon.
This is an ideal time in the Dolphins schedule for a run, as with their next three games being against teams at the bottom of their respective divisions (@ Denver Broncos, @ New York Jets, vs Cincinnati Bengals), they could easily be 9-3 heading into a match-up with the Kansas City Chiefs on December 13.
The future is bright in Miami, as a year after that embarrassing Ravens loss, the Dolphins are now the hottest team in the NFL. With the rate that they’re steadily improving, it’s not crazy to think the Dolphins can win their first playoff game since 2000 this postseason.