How bad was the 2021 season? Dolphins’ characters, biggest disappointment and top performer – Boston Herald

A three-year remodel did not get the Miami Dolphins to the desired destination.

The Dolphins are pretty much in the same place they were when the latest overhaul began, and that stagnation ultimately cost Brian Flores his job.

While some improvements were made during the rebuilding process, the offense continued to struggle. The biggest concern going forward is how much of the list can be saved and what is the next step for this franchise?

Here’s a look at how the Dolphins fared in all areas, and some recognition at the end of the season that will allow us to examine the 2021 season closely.

Delivery game: D

There are only nine teams in the NFL that had a poorer cumulative passing rating (85.4) than the Dolphins, and four of those teams had a rookie quarterback at the helm, and another four lost their starting quarterback due to an injury . It can be argued that Tua Tagovailoa had a decent second season (90.1 passing rating) as an NFL starter. Tagovailoa delivered a record of 7-5 despite two injuries, but there were four games where he threw less than 200 yards. It’s quite clear that Miami’s offensive games put handcuffs on the attack and limited playcalling.

Running games: F

The Dolphins possessed one of the NFL’s worst rushing attacks, no matter how it was quantified. Miami ranked 30th in rushing yards per. match (92.2) and 31st in rushing yards per. trials (3.55 per carry). Turning backfield over to Duke Johnson and Phillip Dorsey in the final month of the season helped the unit improve, but it was too little, too late. The Dolphins’ makers need to reconsider how they handle the tailback position, given the failures they’ve had to improve this unit over the past three offseasons.

Defense of the delivery: B

The Dolphins ranked among the league leaders in sacks (48) and pressure this season. Miami’s defense ranked seventh in the opponents’ cumulative pass rating (85.4), and four of the teams that finished ahead of them are in the playoffs. Miami forced 1.5 takeaways per. match, giving Green Bay an eighth-place finish in the NFL. For the second season in a row, Miami relied heavily on the coverage of Xavien Howards and Byron Jones, who freed the defensive front and security to flash regularly. Both cornerbacks deserve more praise for making Miami’s plan work.

Defense of the race: C

The Dolphins had struggled to defend the race all three of Flores’ seasons, and this year was no exception. Miami allowed opponents to win 109.8 rushing yards per game. match and 4.4 yards per. experiments. The Dolphins only held their opponent to less than 100 rushing yards six times. While Miami’s young defensive linemen – Emmanuel Ogbah, Raekwon Davis, Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler – began to flourish, the linebacker unit took a step back and struggled with consistency, coverage and running attacks.

Special team: D

Special teams had been one of Miami’s strengths the first two seasons of Flores’ reign, but this year’s unity was a massive disappointment. Jason Sanders missed eight field goals and an extra point. Michael Palardy’s points were average (40.1 net, and 39 percent fell within the 20-yard line). Miami’s return match was also non-existent for various reasons. It did not help to trade Jakeem Grant, the franchise’s leading touchdown producer on his return to Chicago. Jaylen Waddle was never comfortable with a return (17.6 yards on kickoff return and 7.0 yards on point return), and Jevon Holland was an automatic fair catch.

Training: D-

Miami’s offensive fought in all areas. The unit led by co-offensive coordinators George Godsey and Eric Studesville had to overcome offensive line issues that eased sparingly. But never enough for Godsey to call plays that required the quarterback to spend longer running time in his pocket without maximum protection. And even then it was not safe. The Dolphins defense had identity issues early on and had to wait for a couple of rookies (Jevon Holland and Jaelan Phillips) to gain a foothold. But they found it eventually, and the defense began to thrive in the second half of the season.

Top-performing offensive player: Receives Jaylen Waddle

The Dolphins gave up a future first-round pick to enable themselves to acquire Waddle after trading down from No. 3 with the San Francisco 49ers. The productivity of the former Alabama standout proved he was worth the move. Waddle set a new NFL rookie record with 104 receptions, which he turned into 1,015 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. It will be interesting to see what Waddle can do when the Dolphins build a better offensive line and put more playmakers around him.

Top-performing defender: Cornerback Xavien Howard

Howard did not have a season worthy of the league’s Defensive Player of the Year honors like 2020, but he was without a doubt the Dolphins’ top player of 2021 – a game changer who sealed victories by creating clutch revenue and scoring points. More importantly, it was his second healthy season in a row, contributing 50 tackles, five interceptions, a sack, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. The Dolphins will have to adjust Howard’s 2022 salary to keep him happy – and from demanding a trade like last July.

Biggest surprise: Flores was beaten

Miami returned from a 1-7 start to win seven games in a row, spending the final month of the season in the playoffs. Flores made sure that the locker room hung together and that the team did not smoke. Miami found a way to win eight of the season’s last nine games after his lead. Although Flores delivered the franchise’s first back-to-back winning seasons since 2002-03, the Dolphins fired him at the end of his third season due to his challenging personality, making him difficult to work with.

Biggest disappointment: Offensive line

Miami’s offensive line was the anchor that weighed on this team all season. Everyone on the unit struggled at times, and while first-time offensive line coach Lemuel Jeanpierre could be used as a scapegoat for the group’s matches, everyone involved must take personal responsibility for how bad the unit looked. The failure of this unit is not only on Jeanpierre. It’s also up to general manager Chris Grier, who selected the five linemen selected in the early rounds of the final three drafts.

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