Tag Archive for: Jason Sanders

Michael Palardy

Dolphins flipping the field with punter Michael Palardy

Dolphins head coach Brian Flores knows better than most how important special teams are. While fans and analysts alike were scratching their hands when the Dolphins drafted long snapper Blake Ferguson in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Miami was patting themselves on the back. They knew that clean snaps were crucial to the success of the team’s kickers. It paid off through Jason Sanders. Now, to further improve the special teams unit, the Dolphins moved on from punter Matt Haack. To take his place is Michael Palardy.

From the very first day, everyone could tell Miami made an excellent choice.

The moment he began punting footballs, the difference in quality from his predecessor was easy to point out. Punts went where they were supposed to go. Excellent hang time. No awful shanks that left the Dolphins in a bad position.

All of this after Palardy suffered an injury that derailed a career that was going as well as a punter’s career possibly could.

“I was playing around and I just stepped wrong and I fell and collapsed to the ground.” Palardy said. “At that point, I knew something was up. This is kind of one of those things that you can’t really control and last year was tough, not being able to play. It was my first major injury like that. My entire career I’ve been healthy for the most part. It was tough to sit and watch; but I got through it and I’m here now and I’m happy to be here and I feel great. My surgery went well, my recovery went really well and I feel back to being my old self.”

Palardy’s old self bounced from team to team for the first three years of his career. He signed with eight different teams, one of which was a CFL team – the Toronto Argonauts. He finally found a home with the Carolina Panthers on November 14, 2016 after punter Andy Lee went on injured reserve. The next year, he won the starting job from Lee, and punted well enough to earn a 3-year extension that he signed in 2018, and he continued his path to becoming a top NFL punter.

But that’s when things went sideways for Michael Palardy.

In 2020, Palardy was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list (NFI) after suffering a torn ACL in the offseason. Then he landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list in December. Just two months later, the Panthers decided Michael Palardy’s time was up.

For a while, Palardy thought the same thing.

“My first two and a half years I was probably the epitome of a journeyman. I was on nine, 10 maybe 11 teams. Sometimes I lose track. (I had) 26 different workouts, so I was all over the place, I was always looking for an opportunity. I think that allowed me to really appreciate having the opportunity of being at a place like here and Carolina the previous five seasons. You grow a different appreciation for the game when that kind of stuff happens, when you struggle a little bit and that’s what I did. There were times where I questioned whether or not I’d be able to get an opportunity again because that window is very small.”

One can only imagine the relief Palardy felt when the Dolphins called his number.

“I wasn’t done with my rehab at the time and a little bit after I had gotten released, my agent got a call from Mr. (Chris) Grier showing interest.” Palardy said. “I came for a visit and I think I meshed really well with what they wanted to do and the intensity that they put on special teams. There’s a lot of value to that. That’s something that I hold near and dear to my heart; coaches, head coach, Coach (Brian) Flores, Coach (Danny) Crossman, the intensity that they put on the kicking game is something that I value. It was a good fit.”

No one talks about it, but special teams can make or break a football game. There’s a stark difference between a team having to start from their own 10-yard line, or their own 35-yard line because a punter made a mistake. Michael Palardy and his performance in training camp so far is very encouraging. If he does as well during the regular season, Miami may need to seriously consider extending him beyond the 1-year deal they gave him.

“He’s been consistent, which is where it all starts.” Special teams coordinator Danny Crossman said. “We’ve got to be good every single day. He’s talented. He’s got some experience so I like where we’re heading. Again, we’ve been at this for 10 days and we just got the pads on. So we have a long way to go.”

Michael Palardy and his punting could ensure opponents will constantly have a long way to go as well.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for seven years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung

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Dolphins Win Cardinals

5 Takeaways from Dolphins Win Over Cardinals

The Miami Dolphins shocked the NFL world again on Sunday, earning a 34-31 win over the Arizona Cardinals. The victory kept them within striking distance of the AFC East lead. But perhaps the best news coming from the win remains the emergence of Tua Tagovailoa.

This win propelled the Dolphins into the AFC playoff picture, despite football pundits once again picking against them. The Dolphins have now won four games in a row for the first time since 2016 and their 5-3 record is their best start through the first eight games of a season since 2014.

Here are five takeaways from the Dolphins’ 34-31 win over the Cardinals.

Dolphins Win Over Cardinals: Tua Definitely QB1

So much of the talk in the wake of Miami’s 28-17 victory over the Rams last week circled around Tagovailoa’s statistical performance. People clamored for more from the rookie. Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey pared down the game plan once Miami’s defense took control.

Against the Cardinals, though, Tagovailoa answered the lingering questions. He completed 20-of-28 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball seven times for 35 yards in this come-from-behind victory.

Tagovailoa authored an impressive 10-play, 93-yard game-tying drive in the fourth quarter of this one. He connected on all five pass attempts during the drive, including a 14-yard strike to DeVante Parker to convert on a third down from deep in Miami’s territory, as well as an 11-yard touchdown to Mack Hollins. Tagovailoa picked up 23 yards scrambling, too, including a six-yard dash to pick up another key third down.

And after the Dolphins defense stuffed a fourth-and-1 attempt by the Cardinals, Tagovailoa maneuvered the team into field goal range for the win. His performance wasn’t perfect, but it was a welcomed sight for the QB-starved ‘Phins.

Jason Sanders, Best K in Franchise History

Tagovailoa set up Jason Sanders for the 50-yard go-ahead field goal with 5:15 left in the fourth. Sanders netted his 20th consecutive made-field-goal with the game-winner. The kick broke the previous team record of 19 straight makes, set by Olindo Mare in 1999. It was the fourth game-winning kick of his career.

Sanders set a new career-long as well with his 56-yarder to end the first half. He became the first kicker in Dolphins history to make two 50-plus yard field goals in the same game.

Sanders now stands as the most accurate kicker in franchise history. He’s made 86.6 percent (58-of-67) of his career tries.

The rest of Miami’s Special Teams Unit has performed well, too. Punter Matt Haack ranks fourth in punts pinned inside the 20-yard line and ninth in net punting. Jakeem Grant leads the NFL in punt return yards and has the league’s only punt return touchdown.

Dolphins D Does Enough in Win Over Cardinals

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Miami’s main difficulties defensively this season have come against mobile quarterbacks and Kyler Murray proved to be the biggest test thus far. The Dolphins defense came up big early, though.

Emmanuel Ogbah stripped Murray on Arizona’s first possession of the game, and Shaq Lawson scooped and scored from 36-yards out. The Dolphins now have a takeaway in 15 consecutive games, which is the second-longest active streak in the NFL behind Baltimore (21 games).

After that, though, the Dolphins defense struggled to contain Murray. He completed 21-of-26 for 283 yards and three touchdowns. Murray showed his elusiveness throughout, avoiding Miami’s pursuit, gaining 106 yards and a scoring a touchdown.

But in the fourth quarter, the Dolphins defense made the necessary stops.

The Cardinals gained 474 yards of total offense, but just 77 of those came in the fourth. For the game, Arizona piled up an average of 7.18 yards-per-play, but that figure shrank to just 5.13 yards-per-play in their final two drives. That number gets even smaller if you remove Murray’s 35-yard connection to Christian Kirk. Without that play, the Cardinals managed just 3.0 yards-per-play down the stretch.

The Dolphins prevented Arizona from converting any third down attempts in the fourth and stuffed a pivotal fourth-and-1 try to set up the game-winning drive.

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Howard’s Not the Answer at RB

The Dolphins entered this one thin at running back. Myles Gaskin landed on the IR earlier in the week and Matt Breida missed the game with a hamstring injury. Jordan Howard got the start for Miami but couldn’t muster much of an attack.

Howard gained just 19 yards on 10 carries (1.9 yards-per-carry), though he did score from two yards out late in the first. All told, Howard played just 21 of Miami’s 61 offensive plays.

Rookie Salvon Ahmed took the bulk of the snaps at the running back position (28 snaps, 46 percent). Ahmed gained 38 rushing yards in his NFL debut, the most by a Dolphins player in their debut since Jay Ajayi gained 41 yards on Nov. 8, 2015 at Buffalo.

Miami’s running game needs to improve moving forward. The Dolphins gained 91 yards on 25 carries in the win against the Cardinals, a 3.6 yards-per-carry average, which is just okay. But Miami needs to get that rushing total up over 100 yards-per-game to really maximize Tagovailoa’s effectiveness.

Next week, the Dolphins can add newly acquired DeAndre Washington to the mix. Gaskin will be out at least another two weeks and it’s unclear if Breida will be ready to return against the LA Chargers.

Depth Concerns at WR

When Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson opted out of the season, some viewed it as an opportunity for other players to step up. Unfortunately, missing Hurns and Wilson only started the thinning of Miami’s receiving corps. Without rookie Lynn Bowden Jr. on Sunday, the Dolphins saw Preston Williams leave the game after his 9-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.

Losing Williams pressed rookie Malcolm Perry in the lineup more than he’s ever been in his short career. Hollins also saw an uptick in snaps.

Grant played 48 percent of the offensive plays and caught four passes for 35 yards. Parker played 90 percent of snaps and led the team with six catches and 64 yards receiving. Even newly promoted rookie Kirk Merritt saw some time.

If Williams’ ankle injury keeps him out an extended period of time, the Dolphins receiving corps is in trouble. Although his skill-set mirrors Parker’s, Williams provides another reliable set of hands for Tagovailoa. Grant should see additional opportunities moving forward. Bowden, if he comes of Reserve/COVID-19 list, and Perry could, too.

Miami awaits the debut of Antonio Callaway, who’s currently assigned to the practice squad but who could see time next week.

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