For the Miami Dolphins to have a successful 2023 season, which fans are hoping for, some players must have a better season than they did in 2022. Miami has undoubtedly made acquisitions for the 2023 season that will make them a force to be reckoned with in 2023. All other problems aside (see Tyreek Hill), certain players must step up their game if the “force to be reckoned with” title is to apply.
The Five Dolphins Players Who Must Improve Their Performance From Last Season
Players from all facets of the Dolphins team (i.e., offense, defense, and special teams), have to show they will rise to the level of players that they have shown to be, in the past, despite less than stellar performances in 2022.
Raheem Mostert rushed for a career-high 891 yards, averaging 4.9 yards a carry, with three touchdowns. However, anyone who watched the Dolphins games last year, saw that while he may be one of the fastest players on the Dolphins roster, he lacks the burst to get past the opposing team’s secondary. In 2019, Mostert had his highest total for career yards in a season, to that point, with 772. During that season with the San Francisco 49ers, Mostert averaged 5.6 yards per carry and scored a career-high eight touchdowns. Six of his eight rushing touchdowns were from 10 yards or more. On average, his rushing touchdown yards average was 17.3 yards. In 2022, two of his three rushing touchdowns were from ten yards or greater. His rushing touchdown numbers average last year was five yards lower (12.3 yards) than the 17.3 he averaged in 2019.
The Dolphins acquired Bradley Chubb from the Denver Broncos along with a fifth-round pick in 2025, in exchange for a 2023 first-round pick (which was traded to the New Orleans Saints for head coach, Sean Payton, with the Saints using it on defensive tackle, Bryan Bresee), a fourth-round pick (2024) and running back, Chase Edmonds. Chubb then signed a five-year, $110,000,000 contract with Miami.
The eye-popping numbers he had put up for the Broncos in his first seven games of 2022, dropped off sharply. Chubb had 26 tackles (15 solo, 11 assisted), including five and a half sacks, and two forced fumbles. In seven regular season games with Miami, Chubb had 13 total tackles (five solo, eight assisted), including, only two and a half sacks and one forced fumble. Dolphins fans are hopeful that Chubb reuniting with new Dolphins defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio, will prove fruitful.
After the 2020 season, in which Jason Sanders converted on 92.3 percent of his field goal attempts, including eight of nine from 50 yards or more, and was a perfect 100 percent on P.A.T. attempts (36 of 36), Miami gave Sanders a new contract. The Dolphins signed Sanders to a five-year, $22 million deal. Sanders’ performance since signing that contract in 2021, has not come close to his 2020 performance. In 2021, Sanders made 74.2 percent of his field goal attempts, including making only two of his six attempts from 50 yards or more. Last season, Sanders’ percentage of field goals increased to 81.3 percent made, but for the second season in a row only converted two of six field goals of 50 yards or more. Here is hoping Sanders can get that 2020 form back. If he cannot, it may be time to start looking for other options.
In April of 2022, Howard signed a new, restructured contract that will see an increase from his original contract by roughly $12 million more a season. After signing the contract in the Spring, Howard’s numbers dropped off drastically from 2021. He played in fewer regular season games (16 in 2021, 15 in 2022), had five fewer tackles (50-45), including fewer sacks (1-0), and fewer forced fumbles (2-0). Most importantly, he saw a significant decrease in interceptions (5-1). He also had fewer passes defensed (16-12). The only category Howard matched the season before signing, and after signing his contract, was fumble recoveries (2). Any Dolphins fans watching last season’s games may have also noticed he seemed to have lost a step in his speed in reacting to the ball and covering his receiver. Fingers crossed, last year was just an off-year for Howard and he will return to his 2021, form.
The Offensive Line…
While every season feels like a Jekyll and Hyde expectation when it comes to the offensive line, 2023 is no different. There are videos out there of Austin Jackson missing two defenders who run right past him and him reacting like “where did they go,” which was a couple of seasons ago. More recently has been the protection and health of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. If a player at any level of football does not perform up to the level they can and should be called out. If one were to go back and watch the clip of last year’s Dolphins game versus the Cincinnati Bengals, where Tagovailoa suffers a concussion, one cannot help but notice Connor Williams’ effort, or lack thereof.
…But Mainly Connor Williams
It is understandable offensive linemen will get beaten by their opponent; it is inevitable. However, as an offensive lineman, the job is to protect your quarterback at all costs. That could be by getting your head on the opponent’s numbers and driving them past the quarterback or, worst case scenario, holding the player to save the quarterback. Instead, Williams gingerly jogs toward the defender he was just beaten by and watches as his quarterback gets tossed like a rag doll. Williams comes sliding in at the end of the play to make it seem like he tried to do something. Fans can watch the video for themselves and make their own judgments. The annual what, who, when, and if the offensive line will show up every game, is the question all Dolphins fans wait with bated breath for answers to, and 2023 will be no different.
The Dolphins have a very talented roster along with lucrative contracts to match. If the Dolphins are to have success and be the team they have the potential to be, will largely hinge not only on staying out of potential/alleged legal trouble (Tyreek Hill) but also having players perform to and meet the potential that got them those large lucrative contracts in the first place. Dolfans everywhere will be holding their breath that all legal, health, and performance issues turn-out to be non-issues by the start of the 2023 NFL season.
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