Habib: On Miami Dolphins midseason awards, who's MVP?
MVP, best defensive player
DE Emmanuel Ogbah
An easy choice. Who knew, when he signed with the Dolphins, that he’d break out with a career-high seven sacks (most by any Dolphin in his first eight games here), not to mention three forced fumbles? Give this man an extension.
Best offensive player
WR DeVante Parker
Not an easy choice. After considering RB Myles Gaskin (387 yards while no other RB had shown much) and TE Mike Gesicki (15 yards per catch) I settled on Parker, who has 36 receptions for 431 yards and three TDs. Like Gesicki, Parker has done well with his opportunities. He has been targeted 49 times. With or without the injured Preston Williams, you’d like to see him targeted even more.
Best special teams player
K Jason Sanders
Duh. All he has done is everything the Dolphins have asked. Against the Cardinals he blasted a 56-yarder and the winning 50-yarder to bookend the closing minutes of each half. At this rate, he’ll be the first Dolphins kicker to make the Pro Bowl since Dan Carpenter in 2009.
Assistant coaches & Co.
For whatever baffling reason, the Dolphins have chosen to make it a state secret as to which coaches did what to make up for the five who were absent for the Cardinals game. We know that TE coach George Godsey helped coach Tua Tagovailoa. We also know that Kaleb Thornhill, director of player engagement, stepped up in some fashion, as did trainer Kyle Johnston and VP of football administration Brandon Shore. Congrats to them. Great job. Whatever that job was.
RB Myles Gaskin
What we saw in training camp — Gaskin repeatedly making plays — was no mirage. It also was not a sign he’d be a dependable backup. It was a sign he’d be the featured back and certainly make more impact than newcomers Matt Breida and Jordan Howard. In half a season Gaskin has tripled the output of his entire rookie year. Playing as if he has something to prove, he already has proved something.
Dolphins 34, Cardinals 31
Not the best game of this year, the best game of the past several years. When you turn off a game feeling emotionally drained, that’s as good as it gets.
Late in Jets game
With 2:27 left and the Dolphins having locked up the victory, rookie Tua Tagovailoa makes his NFL debut. That’s not what warrants this recognition. Instead, it goes to Ryan Fitzpatrick, on the sideline, leading the cheers for the guy who not only replaced him for this game, but may have replaced him for good. A team-first guy all the way.
Best development we can’t control
Turn on the pregame shows. Inside the NFL. National talk radio. Podcasts. Folks from outside our world are rediscovering that the Dolphins do exist. Sports books keep slashing Miami’s odds to win the division, conference and even the Super Bowl (hey, let’s not get ahead of ourselves). After being ignored for so long, it feels good to be part of the National Football League, doesn’t it?
Ford to Patriots
Trading with Bill Belichick is never a good idea. Even before Williams went down, sending Isaiah Ford packing required way more faith in the depth at receiver than it had earned. Ford’s absence could sting for however long Williams is out.
Best way to cope with COVID
GM Chris Grier
While we were starting to get used to being holed up in our homes, the NFL Draft went virtual and the reaction was off the charts. Seeing GMs, players and the commish relaxed in their homes was a treat, even if we may never know if Roger Goodell actually devoured all of those M&Ms himself. Who wouldn't rather look at Bill Belichick's pup at the computer instead of Belichick's frown? While all this was going on, Grier took his draft picks and scooped up talent that could help this team for years, beyond just Tagovailoa. We're talking about three offensive linemen (Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt and Solomon Kindley) who are recording starts as rookies. Finally, hope that after years of trying to put an offensive line together, the Dolphins may at last have a foundation.
GM Chris Grier
Rather than solve their need at running back in the draft, Grier chose to trade for Matt Breida and sign Jordan Howard in free agency. Neither has been a force. Hindsight never made a drafting miscalculation, true, but it must be pointed out: When CB Noah Igbinoghene was taken 30th overall, for example, the running backs on the board included Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who has 586 yards for the Chiefs; D’Andre Swift, who has 457 yards from scrimmage for the Lions; and Jonathan Taylor, who has 631 yards from scrimmage for the Colts.
Most poignant moment
Flores and Fitzpatrick
Minutes before the team scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium, Flores was seen walking Fitzpatrick off the field. It turned out that Fitzpatrick’s mother had just died, a tragedy Flores himself endured about a year earlier. So there Flores was, walking with his arm around Fitzpatrick’s shoulders, trying to comfort his QB "as a coach, as a friend, as a man." Flores said. Fitzpatrick was given as much time as he wanted to grieve but was back with the team the following week.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (1.0, 2.0, 3.0)
Here are three instances in which Fitzpatrick talked about Tagovailoa. See if you detect a theme:
“I know that I am the placeholder and we've already had that conversation.”
"There's a million throws that he makes that I can’t.”
"I feel that I'm really tied into him and the success that he'll have, whenever that time comes.”