The Miami Dolphins have been the center of many media narratives this season, some warranted and others not. One such narrative reared its head after a disappointing loss to the Tennessee Titans on Monday night. 

“The Dolphins offense is nothing without Tyreek Hill.” 

Tyreek Hill suffered an ankle injury early in the game that kept him out until later on, and even then, he was on the field sparingly. The Dolphins offense sputtered with an opportunity to seal the game in the 4th quarter, allowing the Titans to get back on the field and score on consecutive drives. This marked the first time this season the Dolphins lost at home and to a team under .500. During the week, the media took the loss and ran with it, saying Tua and McDaniel are nothing without Tyreek Hill on the field and that the Dolphins only go as far as Hill will take them. 

The Statement That Was Made 

The Dolphins needed a bounceback, a get-right, a statement game. They were given that opportunity this past Sunday against the New York Jets. Tyreek Hill was a game-time decision and was ruled inactive 90 minutes before kickoff. It was a chance for Tua and McDaniel to shine without the league’s best pass catcher. The Jets came to Miami with a 5-8 record and an Aaron Rodgers’ return hovering like a guiding light over their season. The Dolphins made sure to block that light and remove any hope entirely on their way to a 30-0 commanding victory. 

Tua was near perfect, completing 21 of his 24 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown. Jaylen Waddle stepped up big with Hill out, catching seven of eight targets for 142 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown was a beautiful 60-yard pass that resulted in Tua walking to the sideline and saying, “Talk to me.” Raheem Mostert was also involved, scoring two touchdowns on the ground, resulting in two franchise records previously held by Ricky Williams and Mark Clayton, respectively. The defense might have had the most significant day, with Bradley Chubb leading the charge after a costly penalty in the Titans game. This was a complete team win, and the Dolphins needed that. 

The Statement Yet to Make 

The Dolphins will be home again for the third straight week as they await the Dallas Cowboys for a 4:25 pm Christmas Eve matchup. The team has been haunted all season by the narrative that they can’t beat good teams and that they can’t go toe to toe with physical teams. The Cowboys are both of those things. They have a record of 10-4 and a physical defense led by Micah Parsons. The Cowboys also follow the same trend as every team that has defeated the Dolphins this season: they are coming off of a loss. Dallas was embarrassed by Buffalo on Sunday, losing 31-10, allowing James Cook to run for 179 yards while adding two touchdowns (one on the ground, one in the air.) 

The stage is now set for the Dolphins to buckle down and take control of their destiny. They have three games that will all have the air of playoff matchups. If the Dolphins can beat the Cowboys, it will be step one to their ultimate goal. The Buffalo Bills are still in the mix for the AFC East crown, and the Baltimore Ravens have not locked up the first seed. It’s straightforward: if the Dolphins win, they enjoy their first-round playoff bye. The AFC will go through Miami if the team can make a statement in the final three games. Let’s hope that the Dolphins can provide themselves with an exceptional Christmas gift.