Before everyone pushes, fights and claws their ways to Black Friday deals, Thursday will be a day of thanks. A time to sit around, eat football and be thankful for family and friends and all you have. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here’s everything the Miami Dolphins fans have to be thankful for.
1. Cameron Wake
The best thing about Cameron Wake is how much different the defense is when he’s in the game. While the unit does their fair share of damage, Wake is one of the most disruptive defenders in Miami history. He gets to the quarterback, creates turnovers, and constantly puts opposing quarterbacks on tilt. A healthy Wake changes the tempo for the defense. He might be getting older, but he’s playing as fresh as ever.
2. Ndamukong Suh
Fans might not notice because he’s not a sack machine, but Ndamukong Suh is quietly having one of the best seasons of his career. It wasn’t too long ago that fans were grumbling about what Miami paid for him and his production. At full speed, it’s hard to see, but slow down the game footage, and you’ll see his strengths. Even if he’s not making the tackle, he’s taking blockers out of a hole. The running lanes seem to shrink with him in the game, and he’s a magnet to the ball. Defense wins championships, and Ndamukong Suh builds defenses.
3. Ryan Tannehill
Without rolling your eyes, you might be able to realize how lucky Miami has been to have Tannehill. He might not be Dan Marino in disguise, but his intangibles speak volumes. Fans want a gunslinger who can put up 45 to 50 points a game. Those once in a lifetime players don’t come around often enough. Tannehill has gotten better year after year, under new coaches, new coordinators, and new weapons. He’s been sacked enough in his first five years to last the rest of his career. He’s started every game, picked himself up, shook off the criticism, and improved. He might not be the greatest of all time, but he’s given more heart than any Dolphins’ quarterback in recent memory.
4. Jay Ajayi
The sky was falling for fans when favorite Lamar Miller was let go to Houston. As exciting and explosive as he’s been, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. Ajayi was an afterthought come the start of the season but quickly changed his tune. Giving Miami their first win of the season, his touchdown in overtime against Cleveland was the turning point of his season. Gaining 5.7 yards per carry, eight rushes of 20 or more yards and leading the team in touchdowns Ajayi is playing like a man possessed. Miami received the gift of last year’s draft when he fell all the way to the fifth round. Now, he’s making teams pay for passing him over.
5. Adam Gase
The new head coach has the team buying into what his staff is selling and winning football games. If not for a slow start, Gase would’ve never faced criticism. Not only has he changed the culture of the team, but he’s also brought on the coaching staff that is young, fresh, and ready to prove themselves. Not all of Miami’s games are pretty, but they’ve done something the past regimes haven’t and found ways to win close ones.
6. Jarvis Landry
Landry is the leading playmaker for the Miami Dolphins. Even with the success of Jay Ajayi, he’s been consistently there for Miami. He’s still rough around the edges when it comes to his temper and plays, but he is exciting to watch. Not only does he lead the team in receptions and yards, but he’s also been the safety net of the Dolphins offense since being drafted. Defenses have to be accountable for him which has lead to the success of other receivers. He’s the kind of player Miami fans want in uniform for years to come.
7. Rashad Jones
Being on of the best players on your team is an accomplishment. Being one of the best at your position is much harder. Arguable Jones is one of the top safeties in the league, so it’s a little shocking the team didn’t work out a long term deal. His play before his injury spoke volumes to the team. If the Dolphins want a game changing playmaker for years to come, then they need to work on his contract in the offseason.
8. Kenny Stills
Remember the key drop in the Seattle game? Have fans forgiven him yet? He might not be lighting up the stat sheet, but one thing stands out. Stills has 19 receptions for 375 yards. For anyone who’s not great at math, that’s 19.7 yards per catch. If he, Landry and Parker can all get hot at the same time, the passing attack could be dangerous. Stills in the deep game has changed the length of Miami’s football field on multiple occasions. Leading all receivers with four touchdowns, he could be a player Miami strongly considers bringing back next year.
9. Kiko Alonso
Pick six against San Diego, enough said.
10. Laremy Tunsil
A player of Laremy Tunsil’s skill set is hard to come by. Not only has he been a tremendous improvement at guard he also has played some tackle. He gives the Dolphins flexibility along the line that allows him to fill in where needed. Even past this season, he gives them flexibility. Should Miami choose to draft another lineman this year, they’re not stuck in one position. With Tunsil playing guard or tackle at the level he does, the Dolphins can select the best player available at either position. Brandon Albert currently holds down the tackle position, but it’s only a matter of time before Miami moves on. At 32, his age and his contract aren’t team friendly.
11. Whoever leaked Tunsil’s draft day video
By no means should anyone ruin a young athlete’s chance at success. However, it did happen, and Tunsil quickly fell into Miami’s lap. The Dolphins have struggled to keep a consistent unit for some time. Tunsil could be the glue that holds the line together for years to come. He’s only a rookie and playing better than fans could imagine.
12. Damien Williams
He’s always in the right spot to make a big play and keep drives moving. He might not get his number called a lot, but when he does, he makes the most of it. He’s either taking a screen pass for 20+ yards or becoming a mismatch on defense and taking the ball to the end zone. Williams consistently makes plays to keep drives going or caps them off with a touchdown. He’s second on the team on the team in scores but has done just as much as an impact on offense as anyone.
13. A winning team
Do Dolphins fans even remember what a four-game win streak feels like?
A team that has struggled for almost 2 decades finally has a winning record. 5-4 isn’t as strong as the ’72 undefeated team but doesn’t it feel good to win. A tough road schedule ahead means their record could be in jeopardy. Hopefully, they continue their winning ways.
There you have it. Fittingly 13 things to be thankful for with the Miami Dolphins. There have been so many more playmakers it’s hard to keep them off the list. Maybe with consistency, they’ll make names for themselves. Fortunately for them, the opportunity seems to keep presenting itself. Miami appears to have a bright future ahead.