Photo courtesy of Miami Dolphins
Through the first half of the 2020 season, the Miami Dolphins are one of the NFL’s pleasant surprises. After a rough start, the Dolphins have won four straight games. Miami has a winning record at the midway point for the first time since 2014.
As head coach Brian Flores looks to lead the Dolphins to their first postseason appearance in four years, we look back on the team’s top performers for the first half of the year. Here’s a look at Miami’s midseason superlatives:
MVP: Xavien Howard, CB
Xavien Howard hasn’t been bulletproof this season, but has consistently been matched up on the best opposing receiver. His ability to play man coverage allows Miami to blitz early and often. At one point, Howard had interceptions in four consecutive games. His four picks ranks second in the NFL behind only J.C. Jackson of the New England Patriots.
Rookie of the Year: Solomon Kindley, G
Check back at the end of the season and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa could own this designation, but to this point, guard Solomon Kindley has been an absolute steal. The Dolphins have improved immensely on the offensive line and the fourth-round pick from Georgia has been a big reason why. With other rookies in Austin Jackson and Robert Hunt playing admirably, Miami has laid the groundwork to flourish up front for years to come.
Best Addition: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE
Not the most heralded signing of a busy offseason, defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah has been an absolute playmaker. Ogbah has already set a new career-high with seven sacks — good for fourth in the NFL. He’s tied for second in the NFL with three forced fumbles. As a team, Miami ranks fourth in the NFL with 14 takeaways.
Biggest Surprise: Myles Gaskin, RB
As a position, the offensive line likely takes this title, but individually, the honor goes to the second-year back running behind it. After having quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick lead the team in rushing last season, Miami addressed the backfield by acquiring Matt Breida and Jordan Howard, but Myles Gaskin has emerged as the feature back. With 387 yards, Gaskin is the leading rusher for the Dolphins. His 198 receiving yards is fourth on the team. Gaskin leads Miami with 585 yards from scrimmage.
Biggest Disappointment: Jordan Howard, RB
A 2-time 1,000-yard rusher, Jordan Howard was one of the more notable offseason signings for Miami on offense. Howard was expected to be one of the key pieces to the offense, but to this point, has just 33 yards rushing on 28 carries in five games. Howard does lead the team with four rushing touchdowns.
Unsung Hero: Jason Sanders, K
Jason Sanders has yet to catch a touchdown as he did last season, but has been an intricate part of the Dolphins’ success. Sanders is a perfect 17-for-17 on field goals and 21-for-21 on extra points. In last week’s win over the Arizona Cardinals, Sanders set a team record by making his 20th straight field goal attempt. Sanders also hit a career-long 56-yarder in the victory before adding what served as the game-winner from 50 yards out with less than four minutes remaining.
Best Moment: Tua Rallies Dolphins with Two Scoring Drives in Final Quarter (at Arizona, Nov. 8)
In his first road start against a good Arizona team last week, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa showed why he was selected fifth overall. Entering the fourth quarter, the Cardinals seemed to have all the momentum. They had scored 14 straight points to take a 31-24 lead as Miami began a march at its own 7-yard-line. Tagovailoa proceeded to march the Dolphins 93 yards in 10 plays.
On the drive, the rookie was 6-for-6 with 59 yards and the game-tying touchdown pass to Mack Hollins. Tagovailoa also had a pair of nifty scrambles to convert third downs. On the next drive, the rookie led the Dolphins into field goal range for Jason Sanders’ go-ahead 50-yard field goal. After Arizona missed the tying field goal, Tagovailoa iced the game with a third-down sneak for a first down.