“Just give me 25 guys on the last year of their contracts; I’ll win a pennant every year.” -Sparky Anderson

Truer words have never been spoken ever in professional sports. If you want to win, have a roster filled with players who are playing for their next contract. You will see a roster of players who will play through injuries, show up on time for practice, give a 110% at every practice, and do all of their media responsibilities with a song on their lips and love in their hearts.

From the early reports coming out of  Miami Dolphins training camp, there are two examples to prove this theory true once again.

Exhibit A: Noah Igbinoghene

The first-round draft pick by Chris Grier and the Miami Dolphins in 2020 has done little to nothing in his first three years as a member of the Dolphins. Honestly, outside of his late-game interception last season to ensure a win for the Dolphins as they held on vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers, I can’t think of another positive play this kid has made since entering the NFL.

In three seasons, a total of 50 possible regular season games to be played, Noah has only suited up for 32 of them (mainly because he was buried so far down on the depth chart that he was listed as “inactive” most weeks). And in those 32 games he did suit up for and play, he actually started 5 (which shows how desperate Miami was for at least five weeks the past three seasons).

I mean, he was a first-round pick known for his speed, and he wasn’t even active some weeks to run down punts and kickoffs on special teams, even if there was no intention of him playing a defensive snap. That’s how bad he has been.

And this has lasted over not just one, but two coaching staffs. Brian Flores buried him on the depth chart, and Mike McDaniel did last year as well.

Through three seasons in the league, there is no way to sugarcoat Noah’s time in Miami other than being a first-round bust who has contributed very little on the field.

In May, when the Miami Dolphins organization declined to pick up Noah’s fifth-year option, meaning he would be a free agent after this upcoming season…a miracle happened!

On par with Jesus turning Water into Wine, Noah Igbinoghene suddenly started to look like a respectable NFL football player in OTAs and Training Camp.

To the point that, from all the reporters on site who are watching practice each day, Noah has been the standout best player in this training camp for the Dolphins—three interceptions in 3 weeks, including one today.

And with the injuries to Jalen Ramsey and Cam Smith recently, he is most likely in line to open the season as the Dolphins’ starting cornerback opposite Xavien Howard.

Do we have another Wally Pipp-Lou Gehrig moment here?

Maybe. And then again…maybe not.

Maybe just maybe, when the cold hard dose of reality hit Noah that he has been living off where he was selected in round one back in 2020 and on easy street. And he realized that the gravy train (ie, paychecks) was going to stop within the next 12 months. And lord knows he had no tape to shop around the league where another team would have paid anything for him to continue his career.

I bet you he showed up to camp in the best shape of his life. He studies that playbook each night like his life depends on it (which is NFL life kind of does).

I bet you for the first time since he was drafted, he decided to take his NFL career seriously and put in the work year-round to be where he needed to be as a professional.

And….shocking, we are now seeing the results on the field.

I know, some fans reading this will want to spin this and lie to themselves to make themselves feel all warm and fuzzy and say…” well, it wasn’t Noah’s fault. Josh Boyer used him wrong.” or “Noah never got the right coaching” or just blame Brian Flores cause that’s an easy way out. Or better yet, just heap praise on Vic Fangio, proving he is a genius, and he worked his magic on Noah to turn him into Mel Blount overnight.

Yeah, I’m going to stick with it’s the money. The motivation of the money is what got Noah’s head on straight here. Nothing else. You don’t really need to overthink this. I have seen this story a million times. Now it’s a million and one.

But wait, there’s more!

Exhibit B: Austin Jackson

Oh, that same 2020 NFL Draft was something special for Chris Grier and the Dolphins. Let’s move on to Exhibit B and Austin Jackson.

I could just write “SEE ABOVE” and end this but let’s dive a little deeper with this one.

Drafted as Miami’s left tackle of the future: Failed

Moved to Left Guard: Failed

He got moved to Right Tackle, where he lasted all of one game in 2022 before going to IR.

The 18th pick of the 2020 draft has suited a grand total of 32 times for the Dolphins, with 30 of those being starts.

Jackson has been beaten so badly playing offensive line in the NFL that he should have Yamaha tattooed on him somewhere.

But let’s go back to that faithful day in May, and once it became official that the Dolphins were not picking up Jackson’s fifth-year option, a second miracle occurred. Austin Jackson got motivated.

He put in a ton of work (and went on some Richard Simmons Deal a Meal plan or something) and lost a bunch of weight.

It appears he began to take his NFL career seriously as he showed up in the best shape of his life. Don’t believe me, look at the below picture.

And in this training camp, Jackson hasn’t been awful. I know that’s a low bar, but he actually hasn’t been awful, per the reports from all the reporters on site.

Maybe god is a Miami Dolphins fan—two miracles in one offseason. I mean, I am a believer.

Actually, no, I am not. I am a believer that money, lots and lots and big bags of money, were the one big motivator for Austin Jackson and Noah Igbinoghene this offseason, and we, as Dolphins fans, are now seeing the results of that hard work they put in on the practice field and we can only hope it will carry over into the regular season.

So, to tweak that famous Sparky Anderson quote I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Give me 53 men in the final year of their contracts, and you will see a Miami Dolphin Super Bowl victory!

P.S. God, if you got one more miracle up your sleeve, we got this other player named Liam Eichenberg. Can you do anything there to help us out?