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I wanted the Miami Dolphins to go all the way this season. I really did. And for a while, it looked like they had a real shot. Then the wheels came off. And they did so in spectacular fashion.
I make no bones about it – I’m a Dolphins fan because of Tyreek Hill. I’m not a Miami lifer. I adopted the Dolphins when they signed Hill. However, once that happened, I was all in.
I bought into the pre-season hype. I watched Hill and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa work almost flawlessly together all season long. Hill was very outspoken over the summer – he wanted 2,000 receiving yards and a Super Bowl win. It was a tall order – no receiver has ever amassed 2,000 yards in a season and Tagovailoa had never even played in a postseason game, much less won one.
The question for me was always health. The Dolphins are a good team but they’ve had trouble staying healthy down the stretch, Tagovailoa in particular. I figured if he could play a full schedule and the key pieces of Miami’s offense could do the same, the Dolphins would have a real chance.
While Tagovailoa did in fact stay healthy this season, the team around him crumbled over the last month of the season. The defense was hit the hardest – linebackers Bradley Chubb, Cameron Goode, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Jerome Baker were all lost in January alone. Heading into the Wild Card round, cornerback Xavien Howard was ruled out while four other players were listed as questionable.
It was almost as if the Dolphins were going into the game with one hand tied behind their backs.
Another factor, I believe, is the loss of momentum heading into the playoffs. Miami was on a downward spiral over the last few weeks of the season. Over their last seven games, they went 3-4; among those losses were a blowout at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens and a tough seven-point loss to the Buffalo Bills at home. The Dolphins appeared to have lost all the momentum they had early in the season. The collapse sent them to Kansas City to face the Chiefs in one of the coldest NFL games on record.
That in and of itself was enough for me. Miami is not a cold weather team. They have a losing record in cold games and haven’t won a game under 38 degrees at kickoff since 2022. There was just no way at all that they were going into a sub-zero game in Kansas City and winning. In order to have a deep postseason run, the Dolphins are going to need home-field advantage. Without that, their chances are slim to none of contending.
As far as Tyreek Hill goes, he had a monster year. It does, however, feel a little empty with the way it ended. He was a mid-season MVP candidate and he was well on pace for the coveted 2,000 yard mark. The ankle injury ended that. However, he still finished as the NFL’s top wide receiver. Hill caught 119 passes for a league-best 1,799 yards and 13 touchdowns (tied for first in the NFL). It’s the most receiving yards he’s had in his career and the second-most touchdowns (two shy of his 15 in 2020). Hill made his eighth consecutive Pro Bowl and, I believe, solidified his spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton (broadcaster Chris Collinsworth agrees with me; he referred to Hill as a future first ballot hall of famer during the Bills’ game).
If only . . .
It’s something that I’m used to saying. I’m also a fan of the Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars. We say that a lot. But if only the Dolphins had finished the year with more of an exclamation point – posting a winning record over the last month or so of the season, putting up a little more of a fight in the last two games, not losing at home in the season finale, and offering more resistance in the playoffs – I’d feel much better than I do right now.
Miami had two of the most prolific offensive players in the NFL on their team in Tagovailoa (the NFL’s top quarterback) and Hill. It just wasn’t enough.
And that scares me for the future.
- Tyreek Hill returns to Kansas City Saturday night for first time since trade
- Hill, Dolphins close season with division title and individual records on the line
- Miami stumbles against Baltimore, still fighting for the AFC East title
- Dolphins clinch playoff berth, Hill's pursuit of 2,000 receiving yards remains alive
- The chase for 2,000 yards: Hill has to average 153 ypg over the next three games