Despite all the grief the Miami Dolphins (5-7) have received in their first round of the 2020 draft, they do seem to actually hit their early 2021 picks.
There is no more striking example than the 33-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, when receiver Jaylen Waddle and outside midfielder Jelan Phillips had their best performances and defender Jevon Holland made an interception.
For as much criticism – fair in many cases – as general manager Chris Grier, coach Brian Flores, and the Dolphins bosses for their draft picks and line-up decisions, their two picks in the first round and their picks at the start of the second round. All projects this year are paying dividends.
“They work hard,” Flores said in a webcast on Monday. “Football is important to them. They come first. These guys are cool. They are competitive. They like to play with each other, to support each other.
“I am sure that they will continue to get better, because they will continue to work, and they are all sponges. They want to get better. They want to learn. They want to get better. They want to help our team. ”
After nine tricks, Waddle’s career-record 137 yards and touchdowns, he is the fifth-most takedown player in the NFL (77). In recent weeks, when there has been a bit more in the passing game, he has increased his catch yards to a respectable 9.8.
Waddle, selected at No. 6 in April, and former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa converged on a deep slope that, with yards after catch, led to his 57-yard move throughout his career. After surpassing 100 yards in the first half on Sunday, he became Miami’s first rookie in team history with three-figure yards in the first half.
“I wouldn’t say I was waiting,” Waddle said of looking more at midfielder in recent weeks. “Honestly, I just go out there and try to do my job. Whatever they want me to do, I try to go out and execute. ”
Phillips, the 18th draft pick, has played with three NFL rookie sacks for the first time since Raiders’ Max Crosby played four in 2019. He was the Dolphins’ first rookie with multiple sacks in the game since midfielder Jerome Baker. in 2018.
“We’re just playing more aggressive and loose,” Phillips said, noting that other gang passes have kicked Panthers quarterbacks Cam Newton and PJ Walker off him. “We worked better as a team in terms of our coordination on the stunts and games that we run and just play more freely and have genuine joy and have a great time playing together, just flying and playing. … ”
These three sacks propelled Phillips into the lead in the category with 6 1/2 in a season.
Holland made his second interception in his first pro season, where he demonstrated versatility with seven pass deflections, two sacks, active fumble recovery and 46 tackles.
“That was all I ever imagined. It’s super fun. “This is the greatest pleasure I’ve had,” Holland said. “At first it was fast, like they were guys flying around, big bodies, but I just understood myself and how I play and tried to take the next step in preparation so I could just play for free and let everything go with the flow. … me. When preparation is combined with hard work and execution, bursts happen. ”
The Waddle Waddle dance move that Waddle made after scoring a first-half goal against the Panthers was what Phillips said he and Christian Wilkins’ defensive tackle for some time this year have been trying to get Waddle to do the game.
The group has fun on and off the field, but also knows when to focus.
“Winning soccer games is our common interest,” Phillips said. “I think the chemistry in the dressing room is incredible. Whether they are newbies or older guys, I found this team is not very group-based. We kind of hang out with each other and everyone really enjoys spending time. ”
Another Dolphin player in the second round after Holland, attacking lineman Liam Eichenberg, saw his difficulties this season, but starts with a left tackle as a rookie and has reduced his mistakes in recent weeks.
Flores tries to keep the rookies humble and warns that the last part of the NFL season is where the rookies get tough.
“They still have a long way to go and learn a lot,” said Flores. “This is really the moment when everything becomes different for them. The college seasons are really over.
“The season is longer. This is a more physical game. It’s more exhausting in many ways: mentally, physically, emotionally. … In that sense, the length of the NFL season is different from anything they’ve dealt with. ”
As for the heavily criticized first round of 2020, Tagovailoa amassed a string of impressive performances after Sunday’s 27 of 31 match. quarterback Noah Igbinogen has been healthy and inactive in half of the team’s 12 games this season.
This week, the Dolphins may bring back center Michael Deiter, who missed the last eight games with a foot injury. Daiter went through his last week of practice, but Miami did not turn him off due to an injured reserve.
“Last week he did some good things in training,” said Flores. “He wasn’t ready for us to call him, but we’ll take this day at a time and see how he trains this week.”
Host Will Fuller (finger) and DeVante Parker (hamstring) are close to making a comeback but haven’t exercised last week.
“This is no different from where we were at this time last week. We’ll see on Wednesday, ”said Flores. “Both are obviously getting better and getting closer. They will work [Monday] and [Tuesday]that will tell us a little more and sort of if we’re already there. ”