After their 27-23 victory over the New York Jets, the Miami Dolphins have climbed their way back into relevancy. After a 1-4 start, the team seems to have found it’s groove. Miami still has an uphill battle ahead but this victory couldn’t have been more important. Riding a three-game win streak, Miami has found themselves second in the division and in the playoff hunt. They sit 2-1 in the division and 4-2 in the AFC. New England hasn’t locked up the division yet, however, the Dolphins appear to be playing for a wild card spot. How did putting a nail in the Jets coffin help them in the long run?
The Run Game
Everyone by now has heard of the success of Jay Ajayi the past couple weeks. Facing one of the NFL’s toughest run defenses put the season in perspective. Miami would either show they’ve had a lucky break or were the real deal. Facing a New York Jets team not known for its passing defense, it seemed the game would be in the hands of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Even after the Ajayi struggled to gain yards in the first half, Adam Gase still stuck to his guns making one thing clear. If teams want to beat the Miami Dolphins, they’re going to have to find ways to stop the run.
Back Where He Belongs
Miami might be giving Cameron Wake a snap count each game but he’s come up big when needed. With his 4 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles the defensive end showed why he’s the leader on defense. The Dolphins might have limited his snaps as he recovered from a torn Achilles. However, as the season progresses, Wake’s role will grow each week as the team inches closer to playoff contention.
Playing Clean Football
While penalties is still an issue, the Dolphins continue to play clean football. Since they switched to a run-first attack, quarterback Ryan Tannehill has gone 3 straight games without an interception. While the team has only 5 interceptions recorded on defense, they still find ways to win the turnover battle. Most of the success can be attributed to the decrease in pass attempts. However, if Miami can continue running the ball well, winning on the strength of the run game shouldn’t be a problem.
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No Starters, No Problem
With Jordan Cameron placed on injured reserve and Dion Sims in concussion protocol the Dolphins were left thin at tight end. The team was forced to turn back to mini camp and bring MarQueis Grey and Dominique Jones back into the fold. Stats don’t show how valuable both players have been in filling in. Miami continues to build their offense off solid blocking and the backups are making it happen. Jones even lead the Dolphins in receiving with 3 catches for 42 yards and a touchdown.
Miami may be in contention for a playoff spot, or they might be in a rebuilding season. One thing is for sure, coach Gase has them finding ways to win football games where other coaches before him have failed. The Dolphins aren’t blowing teams out. They’re not even solidifying themselves as a Super Bowl threat. However, slowly but surely, they’re giving fans a glimpse into a very bright future. If the Dolphins can pull off a win against San Diego on Sunday, it’ll be the teams first 4 game win streak since the 2008 playoff team.