Last night the Miami Dolphins pulled off an upset win over the New England Patriots that not a lot of people saw coming. What stood out to me last night, besides the great play of Jay Cutler, was the contributions the Dolphins got from their younger players.
On offense Kenyan Drake sparked the offense with 191 yards from scrimmage running and receiving. I mentioned last month the Dolphins need to give Drake the ball more to see what he can do. Well the last two games he’s run for over 100 yards and has made big plays in the passing game as well. The Dolphins even lined him up at wide receiver on a bomb last night. The Dolphins have never done that let alone had a running back with a talent like that. Drakes performance is showing maybe running back isn’t going to be as big a need as once thought last month. Dolphins need to keep feeding him the rock the rest of the way every time he touches the ball he is a threat for a big play.
The quiet improvement of the offensive line has been impressive as well. Laremy Tunsil has improved the last month after having a tough first half of the season. The Dolphins appear to have a find in Jesse Davis as he has very quietly been having a good season. The question is where do you play him. It looks like his best spot is on the right side of the line at right tackle or guard. He does a good job blocking and pulling getting to the second level. The Dolphins need to add more pieces to the line this off season, but these two are a start in the right direction.
The defense was great last night and it started up front. Jordan Phillips appears to be turning the corner at DT after struggling his first 2 seasons. In camp it looked like he could be the odd man out with his inconsistent play, but the team stuck with him and he looks to be settling in. He has been pushing the offensive line in the back field and getting good pressure on the quarterback. Rookie Davon Godchaux has been a big surprise and has played his way into a rotation to give Phillips and Ndamukong Suh a breather when needed.
The MVP of last nights game was Xavien Howard. His rookie season was hampered by injuries and this year he has been struggling at times, but the last 2 games he has had 4 INTs and last night he completely shut down Brandin Cooks and took away the Patriots deep ball threat. Now all he has to do is keep his momentum going the rest of the year. People have to remember Sam Madison took a year before he became a consistent player. It’s taking a little longer for Howard maybe it’s scheme or something, but the Dolphins have to use him properly he’s very talented. Cordea Tankersley was drafted in the 3rd round this past year and was suppose to be eased into the lineup, but injuries pressed him into duty. Tankersley has filled in very well and held his own. He the Patriots game due to injury so hopefully he will get back on the field and continue his good play. Next year the Dolphins will get back Tony Lippett who tore his Achilles Tendon in training camp and was coming off a terrific year last year in his second season. If Lippett can come back from injury to go along with Howard and Tankersley it could form a nice trio in the secondary.
Development of the teams young players are key to the future of the Dolphins and last night was a giant step in the right direction.