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Dolphins win Jets

5 Takeaways from Dolphins Win Over the Jets

The Miami Dolphins (7-4) rebounded from a tough loss last week with a resounding defensive effort against the New York Jets (0-11). The Dolphins defense stymied any offensive output from Sam Darnold and Co., romping their way to a 20-3 victory.  The win, coupled with key losses by other teams, propelled the Dolphins back into the AFC playoff picture.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Dolphins win over the Jets.

Dolphins Defense Dominant in Win Over Jets

The Dolphins defense returned to its dominant ways Sunday. Miami limited the Jets to just three points, 10 first downs and 260 total yards. In 25 possessions this season, the Dolphins held New York to just 0.12 points-per-possession.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the three total points allowed is the fewest by an NFL team in two meetings against the same opponent since 2009. The three points allowed is the second-fewest by the Dolphins against an AFC East opponent in one season. Miami shutout the Baltimore Colts in both games played against them in 1972.

Miami extended its takeaway-streak to 17 straight games, the NFL’s longest active streak. The Dolphins’ 19 takeaways this season are third-most in the league.

Miami improved its scoring defense to just 18.6 points-per-game this season, which is second-lowest in the NFL. And the Dolphins have the best third-down defense in the NFL after limiting the Jets to just 3-of-13 on third downs. Miami’s 32.8 third-down percentage allowed leads the league, and the Jets’ 10 first downs were tied for the second-fewest in a single game this season.

No QB Controversy

Much of the discourse leading up to this game surrounded which quarterback gave Miami the best opportunity to win. Tua Tagovailoa was coming off of his worst professional outing, but he’s yet to turn the ball over through four games played. Ryan Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, coughs up the ball at an average of once per game.

A thumb injury shelved Tagovailoa against the Jets, robbing the rookie of a bounce-back performance. Instead, Fitzpatrick helmed the offense. And although some argue for the veteran to replace the youngster, there was no Fitzmagic Sunday.

Sure, Fitzpatrick piled up yards (257), but he provided just two touchdowns against the league’s worst defense. He flashed his chemistry with DeVante Parker, who finished with eight catches and 119 yards, but little else. In the absence of Tagovailoa, the Dolphins offense did little to indicate the rookie was the problem.

After the game, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores voiced his support of Tagovailoa going forward.

“If he’s healthy, he’s the guy,” Flores said.

Flores couched the statement by saying: “We’ll see how he does in practice over the course of the week. He’s a tough kid. It was very close to him being able to go, but we have to make good decisions for him as well. We’ll see how he does over the course of this week in practice.”

If he can go, Tagovailoa will face a Bengals defense that allows 26.3 points-per-game and 253.7 passing yards-per-game.

Dolphins Rushing Attack Leaves Much to be Desired in Win Over Jets

While the Dolphins defense continued to shine, the offense’s lackluster rushing attack reared its ugly head as well. Miami’s ground game lacked rhythm and was largely absent in the second quarter. While some of that falls on offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, as well as the offensive line, what’s clear is Miami doesn’t have a difference-making running back.

The Dolphins split 22 carries among three running backs and watched the trio gain 94 yards but cough up two fumbles. Matt Breida and Patrick Laird both saw their chances limited after the third quarter miscues.

DeAndre Washington submitted the best performance of the three, gaining 49 yards on 13 carries. He also caught two passes for 11 yards. He may have earned himself a few more snaps moving forward, even with the eventual returns of both Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed.

What’s become abundantly clear is that Miami needs a difference-maker in the backfield and that player is not currently on the roster. It’s particularly important to add one, considering one of Tagovailoa’s strengths is RPO. The “run” needs to be an option.

Xavien Howard, NFL’s Best Cornerback

Xavien Howard continued his All-Pro play, too. He nabbed his league-leading seventh interception, picking off Darnold in the fourth quarter. Howard matched his career-high with seven INTs and has five games to go. He became just the second cornerback in team history with multiple 7-plus interception seasons, joining Sam Madison (1998-1999).

Howard’s 19 interceptions since 2017 also pace the NFL. What’s incredible about Howard’s ball-hawking prowess is that he missed 16 games over that span. His career 0.37 interceptions-per-game is fourth-highest among players who made their debut in the Super Bowl era, per Elias Sports.

It’s not just interceptions, either. Howard broke up three other pass attempts, giving him 50 pass breakups for his career. He has 15 passes defensed this season, tied for second-most in the league and one behind the league leader.

Darnold was 3-for-10 for 37 yards and an interception when throwing at Howard. Opposing quarterbacks have just a 50.3 passer rating when testing Howard this season.

Dolphins Win Over the Jets Propels Team Back into AFC Playoff Picture

The Dolphins dominated the Jets to the tune of 44-3 this season. Those wins helped the Dolphins keep pace in the AFC. After Week 12, Miami remains just one game behind the Bills in the AFC East. With the win Sunday, coupled with keys losses by Indianapolis and Las Vegas, the Dolphins vaulted to the 6-seed in the conference.

Miami’s move up the standings comes thanks to a superior conference record (4-3) than both the Colts (3-4) and Ravens (4-4). But with five games to go, the Dolphins have a difficult task ahead.

The Dolphins will need to secure another win next week against the floundering Cincinnati Bengals (2-8-1). Minus Joe Burrow, this matchup has been robbed of its potential headline, but it remains as a must-win for Miami.  The final four games lack any easy opponents for the ‘Phins.

A win versus Cincy would put the Dolphins at 8-4 for the home stretch. Then comes the team’s stiffest test yet, a date with the defending Super Bowl Champs, the Kansas City Chiefs (10-1). After that, the Dolphins host New England (5-6), who could be playing for their playoff lives at that point.

What follows is another must-win: a road matchup with the Raiders (6-4). This could be a postseason play-in game. The regular season finale comes in Buffalo (8-3), and, considering the Bills have a stiff remaining schedule as well, it might very well be for the AFC East title.

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Dolphins Win Jets

5 Takeaways from Dolphins Win Over the Jets

The Miami Dolphins dominated the New York Jets on Sunday. The Dolphins 24-0 win stands as the team’s first shutout since 2014. Improving to 3-3 on the year marks the first time in the Brian Flores era that Miami has been at .500. With the Jets floundering to 0-6 under Miami’s former head coach Adam Gase, it becomes more clear with each passing week that the Dolphins have the right leader in Flores.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Dolphins win over the Jets.

Dolphins D Dominant in Win Over Jets

The Dolphins haven’t shut out an opponent since they blanked San Diego six seasons ago. They hadn’t shut out the Jets since the 1983 AFC Championship game. The defense’s domination delighted Dolphins fans as they shut down the purported “offensive guru” Gase.

Miami’s defense elevated its play on Sunday, limiting the Jets to 2-of-17 on third down tries. For the season, the Dolphins top the NFL in third-down defense, allowing just 31.3 percent of conversions. Miami stands fourth in scoring defense (18.8 points-per-game) and sixth in sacks (17).

In the win over the Jets, the Dolphins held Flacco to 148 net passing yards. Last week, the Dolphins surrendered just 128 net passing yards to San Francisco, making this effort the first since 2010 Miami has limited opponents to fewer than 150 net passing yards in consecutive games.

The defense kept the Jets to just 93 yards in the first half, allowing just five first downs and forcing six punts. This helped Miami build a 21-0 halftime lead.

Ogbah, a Great Investment

Among the other free agent additions for 2020, Emmanuel Ogbah’s name might have been an afterthought. But he’s become a force for this defense in the pass rush.

Ogbah recorded two sacks in the Dolphins win over the Jets. His effort stands as Miami’s first two-sack performance since Cam Wake and Akeem Spence both had a pair of sacks versus the Jets in November 2018. Ogbah’s now recorded five sacks this season, tied for second-most in the AFC. Sunday also saw him register six QB hurries and two more QB hits.

The Dolphins are getting the most out of their two-year, $15 million investment in Ogbah. He’s registered a sack in three straight games and at least half a sack in five straight. He’s just a half-sack shy of his career high (5.5)

Howard Returned to Form

Xavien Howard registered his fourth interception of the season after he picked off Joe Flacco in the second quarter. Howard has clearly returned to his 2018 ballhawking form after a knee injury limited him to just five games last season.

Sunday marked the fourth straight game with an interception for Howard. His four-game streak is the second-longest in team history, behind safety Dick Westmoreland (five straight games with an INT in 1967). Howard’s four picks this season are tied for most in the NFL and he’s ninth in pass-breakups (6). His 16 interceptions since December 2017 are the most in the NFL in that span. He’s made an interception in 11 of his 46 career games.

Adding Byron Jones aided this secondary and Howard specifically, but Howard has elevated his play in 2020. He’s held opposing quarterbacks to 12-of-26 passing (46.2 percent) with just one touchdown and four interceptions.

Gaskin, a Bell Cow?

Seemingly overlooked this offseason with the additions of Matt Breida and Jordan Howard, Myles Gaskin felt like the forgotten man amid all of the Le’Veon Bell chatter this week. Gaskin posted a video to social media of his highlights, then followed that with his best performance as a pro.

Gaskin gained a career-high 91 rushing yards on 18 carries (5.1 average). He added four receptions for 35 yards as well. His 126 all-purpose yards also set a new career-high for the second-year running back. The last time the Miami saw a running back total at least 126 scrimmage yards was Kenyan Drake’s 193 performance versus New England in December 2017. Gaskin’s 91 rushing yards are the most by a Dolphins RB since Kalen Ballage ran for 123 yards versus Minnesota in December 2018.

Gaskin’s emergence as a legitimate NFL starter belies his seventh-round pedigree. He continues to take a larger share of the running responsibilities, and his ability as a pass-catcher helps keep opposing defenses honest. Gaskin’s play has resulted in back-to-back healthy scratches for Jordan Howard.

Bye Week Comes After Dolphins Win Over Jets

The Miami Dolphins saw their scheduled shuffled by the NFL last week. In the wake of COVID-19 positives for the New England Patriots, the league changed the schedules for eight different teams. For the Dolphins, that meant they faced New York in Week 6 instead of Denver. It also means Week 7 becomes their bye, instead of Week 11.

The Bye comes at the right time for the Dolphins, as several veterans are hobbled. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy landed among the inactives after groin and foot injuries limited his participation in practice this week. During the game, linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel exited in the second quarter to be evaluated for a concussion. He did not return.

Linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill hurt his hand in the third quarter. In the fourth, wide receiver DeVante Parker (groin) and defensive tackle Raekwon Davis (shoulder) also sustained injuries. The early Bye affords these players a week of healing and rest ahead of an important stretch for the Dolphins.

Miami has a slate of six winnable game ahead of them, and they’ll need a 5-1 or 4-2 stretch to set themselves up for the playoffs. According to Tankathon.com, the Dolphins have the 10th-easiest remaining based on strength of schedule. They’ll need to bank wins here over the next few weeks, as their final four games see Miami play the Chiefs and the Patriots at home, then travel to Las Vegas and Buffalo to finish.

Xavien Howard

Dolphins CB Xavien Howard arrested for domestic battery

Per ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe, the Miami Dolphins’ star cornerback, Xavien Howard, was arrested on Sunday by the Davie police department on charges for domestic battery in an incident with his fiancée.

According to the police report, Howard and his fiancée got into a verbal argument about the recent purchase of a purse that wasn’t disclosed in the report. The incident became physical when Howard grabbed his fiancée’s arm and pushed her back against a mirrored glass wall in the hallway of their bedroom. Howard then released her, causing her to fall onto her right arm, landing on Howard’s crutches.

Howard’s fiancée suffered physical scratches as well as redness on her right wrist and forearm. Howard also complained of knee pain according to the report. He was then taken to the BSO jail by Davie police, where Howard currently is now. This is Howard’s first offense as his record has been clean up to this point.

Monday morning, the Miami Dolphins released a statement regarding Howard’s arrest.

“We are aware of the situation and currently gathering information. We will have no further comment at this time.”

Howard’s camp has been silent regarding the incident, though Andy Slater of Fox Sports did reveal video of Howard – on crutches – appearing in court and refusing the counsel of a public defender.

Miami’s star player missed most of 2019 due to a knee injury that required surgery to repair. He’s now under a 5-year, $75 million dollar contract the Dolphins rewarded him with for his on-field performance.

Unquestionably, Xavien Howard is the best player on this Dolphins roster. He’s viewed as one of the cornerstone pieces of this long term rebuild. But incidents of domestic violence are inexcusable. Former Dolphins running back Mark Walton was unceremoniously waived after being arrested for aggravated battery of a pregnant woman back in mid-November.

Even if the Dolphins deem it fit to keep Howard after this incident, he will be subject to league discipline.

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

Who will step up as captains of the 2019 Miami Dolphins?

After a preseason that saw the Dolphins purge their roster, they’re not only lacking talent, but also leadership and captains.

Miami rosters roughly 20 players that were on the team last season and first-year coach Brian Flores is looking to discover guys that his vision.

With players like Laremy Tunsil, Ryan Tannehill, Cameron Wake and John Denney no longer with the team, Flores spent the preseason looking for players who can step up as leaders and captains for a team that features one of the youngest rosters in the NFL.

When speaking to the media on Wednesday, Flores told reporters that the Dolphins are yet to name the team’s captains.

With everything we have heard this offseason, players like Jerome Baker and Xavien Howard seem like perfect candidates to lead the new era of the Miami Dolphins.

Will Ryan Fitzpatrick earn the title, despite having to play for his job on a week-by-week basis? Can Daniel Kilgore bounce back from an injury-shorted 2018 season and provide leadership for an offensive unit that has combined to start just 88 games?

Who would you like to see step on to the field as captains when the Dolphins welcome Baltimore to Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday?

Preston Williams header

Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams drawing high praise

It’s been a long road for Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams. He’s made mistakes off the field that he’s trying to get past, and he’s trying to make up for those mistakes by pushing himself as an undrafted free agent. Now, as Miami’s first preseason game draws ever closer, Williams is starting to impress the fans, his coaches, and even his teammates.

“That guy can be special.” said Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard. “He’s still learning, he’s just a rookie. (There) is so much room for improvement with him but he’s going to be a number one receiver one day.”

Considering Howard’s ever-increasing reputation, that’s extremely high praise. Howard’s job is locking down other teams’ best wide receivers, and in training camp, Howard gives that same treatment to Williams. Howard wins a lot of those matches. But there are moments where Williams makes an impressive play to beat the elite cornerback. That’s a difficult task no matter who it is, as everyone knows.

Back in late May, Ryan Fitzpatrick was asked about the tall, strong receiver, and apparently the praise wasn’t quite as pronounced.

“He’ll make some ‘wow’ plays and he’ll make some plays that remind you that he’s a young guy.” He said. “Consistency is going to be a big thing with him. In terms of some of the physical features and the way that he can go get the ball and those type of things, he’s been very impressive. Again, he’s working his tail off and it shows and you can tell out here, but there’s also a lot of work that still needs to be put in for him to be able to be trusted and be out there.”

But since then, trust has been attained, especially from young QB Josh Rosen. The two are building an impressive rapport, one that just might help Rosen win the starting job.

“Yeah, he’s got a ton of potential.” Rosen said after Saturday’s scrimmage. “He’s an unbelievable athlete. He’s got a great attitude. He works really hard, and I think he’s got a really high ceiling. It’s just about how hard he works, and I’m right there in the boat with him. We’re the same age, so hopefully we can develop together and keep pushing each other.”

To further boost their chances, Rosen and Williams actually have a history together. The two were on the same team at The Opening camp in Oregon in 2014 as recruits in high school. During that time, they made quite a tandem.

“I don’t know how much chemistry after – how long is that, five, six years ago?” Rosen said. “But yeah, it’s good to see him. That’s kind of the crazy thing about the NFL is that you walk in and you see faces that you haven’t seen in years from all over.”

Now, with an old friend throwing him the ball as he fights his way back to his NFL dream, does Preston Williams still have a chip on his shoulder from going undrafted? The answer, apparently, is no.

“That’s over, so I don’t really think about it any more.” Williams said. “I’m here now. I’ve got my foot in the door. I just came in to work. It doesn’t matter where I’m at or where I went.”

True enough, since where he is, is at the forefront of a brewing competition. As a result, he’s in the thick of it with DeVante Parker and Brice Butler for a spot on the final roster. If things stay this close between them, then preseason will have to make the final decision. In the end, Preston Williams isn’t taking anything for granted.

“It’s real humbling because a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to sit in these chairs.” He said. “So I just come out here every day like it’s my last practice.”

Header for Laremy Tunsil story

Dolphins LT Laremy Tunsil expresses desire to stay in Miami

It’s quickly becoming evident that Dolphins left tackle Laremy Tunsil is a rising star. He rarely allows sacks, he’s improving in the run game, and he’s still under contract for the next two seasons thanks to the NFL’s fifth-year option. However, it would be wise for Miami to lock him up before it gets to that point.

True, Tunsil is not the kind of person who will show up to camp in an armored truck to express his desire to get paid. That distinction lays solely on the shoulder of Jaguars defensive back Jalen Ramsey.

But this does not mean that leaving Tunsil without a long-term contract is a smart move. Tunsil would earn a pretty penny on the free agent market, and the longer he goes without a new contract, the more expensive he projects to be.

This is precisely why the Dolphins made an excellent move locking up star cornerback Xavien Howard before his contract ran out. As a core member of the team, Howard is expected to be a staple of the defense for years to come. And while he’s the highest paid corner in football right now, that easily could change in 2020. Young stars Trae Waynes and Marcus Peters are set to be free agents in 2020. Between the two of them, they’re bound to command at least as much as Howard, if not more. If they had signed first, it would have increased Howard’s price by default.

Fortunately, Tunsil seems focused on football now that camp is in session.

“That’s not a concern for me right now.” He said Thursday after practice. “I’m trying to be the best that I can be and help the team any way I can, and just keep it going day-by-day.”

Day by day, he’s proving to everyone he’s worth the title of franchise left tackle, in spite of certain assumptions. NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger recently called Tunsil the best young left tackle in football. High praise, given how many excellent left tackles there are in the league.

But does Tunsil want to be paid like he’s the best?

“Day-by-day, man.” He said. “We’ll see. I’m going to let my actions talk.”

Noncommittal to be sure, but that’s to be expected from the low-key Tunsil. One thing he did say though is that he would love to remain in Miami for the rest of his career.

“I would love that.” He said. “I would love to be with one organization for the rest of my career. That’s just a goal for everybody. Nobody wants to leave.”

The stability of staying with one organization for a whole career is a rarity to be sure. With any luck, Tunsil will get his wish. Which means the Dolphins, who want to keep Laremy Tunsil for a long time, will get theirs as well.

Dolphins make Xavien Howard highest paid defensive back in NFL history

The day has finally arrived.

After months of speculating, the Miami Dolphins today, made Xavien Howard the highest paid defensive back in NFL history.  The former second-round pick from Baylor, struggled early on in his career-before taking the next step in 2018.  And for a team that has very little resembling a shutdown defensive back, the move was absolutely necessary.  Howard now becomes the face of the Dolphins’ defense, and will be tasked with shutting down the opposition’s No.1 wide receiver.

Here are the details according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Howard, 25, led the NFL in interceptions last season with seven.  He was also invited to his first Pro Bowl–if you believe those type of things matter.

Now that the Dolphins inked Howard to a lucrative long-term deal, they will now focus on resigning left tackle, Laremy Tunsil.