While most of the media in and around Miami has focused on the potential season end of Ryan Tannehill due to a knee sprain, I’ve chosen to do a quick write up on the players that have made this Dolphins season special.
Here are the five unsung heroes this season:
1. Kiko Alonso: Alonso brought a serious level swagger and toughness to the position of middle linebacker. This season, he has flourished in Vance Joseph’s 4-3 defense and has defined and cemented his role a go-to guy on the defense. The results have been incredible-four forced fumbles and two interceptions ( one a game winner versus the Chargers).
2. Cameron Wake: While there should be balance between offense and defense on this list, Cam Wake has been and forever will be the reason the Dolphins win and lose. From a production standpoint, getting 9.5 sacks this season after being sidelined with a torn Achilles the season prior, he gets my vote as a team unsung hero. Not to mention, Wake has impactful and meaningful production when he’s getting push one on one and even when he’s held he is a disruptive force. At the age of 34, he’s getting stronger each and every year. Just ask his Range Rover.
3. Ryan Tannehill: For one, Tannehill has been a model of toughness at quarterback for the franchise. He has started 77 straight games and until yesterday was headed for a strong finish-quite possibly his best quarterback rating and completion percentage. When Adam Gase was hired as head coach of the Dolphins, his first objective was to “fix” Tannehill. He did more than that as Tannehill has become the constant that could be counted on to lead, seldom complain, and take the blame after a loss. Barring a setback, we might see Ryan Tannehill have a major part in being the guy in the playoffs, but for now, he will continue to lead from the sidelines supporting backup Matt Moore.
4. Kenny Stills: After clearly having an issue in a Miami offense of last season, Stills has become the go-to guy deep. For one, Stills has six touchdowns despite the lack of targets this season. Stills has been active each and every week and has made catches with ease after dropping a potential big TD in Seattle week one. He qualifies as a difference maker and complements the play of Jarvis Landry quite well. Stills has touchdowns of 24, 74, 66, 39, 43, and 28 yards. It’s no wonder why he has emerged as the Dolphins deep threat in the vertical passing attack featured this season by Coach Gase. (Hat Tip-Eric Elizondo).
5. Damien Williams: After seeing this specimen of talent that Williams is with my own eyes in San Diego, I’m convinced he’s clearly a notch above all other players at the position in the league. From his week one scamper at the tail end of the Seattle game to his back shoulder catch in San Diego or his 10 yard rush to take the lead versus the Bills, no one has done more than Williams who has been versatile and continues to produce despite lack of plays.
So there you have it. A list of players who have done the dirty work and have gotten the job done when called upon. Whether the Dolphins make the playoffs or not, they have a core group of players who have bought in, have contributed, and have set the tone week in and week out.
Honorable Mention: Devante Parker (WR), Walt Aikens (ST), and Andre Branch (DE).