3 takeaways from the Dolphins’ Week 16 win | Launderer report

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    Butch Dill / Press Associate

    The Miami Dolphins won their seventh straight game on Monday night to position themselves for a playoff push. They handled the New Orleans Saints in a physical and impacted game of absence that featured rookie quarterback Ian Book for the Saints.

    The Dolphins harassed Book throughout the game, sacking him eight times and netting two interceptions, one which Nik Needham returned for the game’s first touchdown.

    It was a dominant defensive performance for Miami, and while the offense wasn’t too impressive, Tua Tagovailoa and Co. did enough for the decisive 20-3 victory. For now, the Dolphins are entering the No. 7 seed in the AFC.

    It’s remarkable that Miami is in the playoff position after starting the 1-7 season, and it’s becoming clear that the Dolphins shouldn’t panic with Tagovailoa or coach Brian Flores during the offseason. Here’s what else we learned from the Week 16 win in Miami.

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    Butch Dill / Press Associate

    Ahead of the 2021 draft, the Dolphins moved out of third place to allow the San Francisco 49ers to chase a quarterback. They then return to No.6, scoring the Philadelphia Eagles selection and making sure they could land one of the best pass-catch prospects.

    With the sixth selection, Miami took the Alabama product and former Tagovailoa teammate Jaylen Waddle. Monday’s game was another sign that going up to get Waddle was a smart move.

    The Dolphins had just 259 attacking yards against New Orleans and were just five of 15 in the first downs. However, Waddle consistently found holes in the Saints’ secondary, finishing with 10 catches, 92 yards and one touchdown. It was not a unique performance from the rookie.

    As Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski recently suggested, Waddle may have pushed his way into consideration for Offensive Rookie of the Year. His 10 catches equaled a Monday night football rookie record, and he’s now six receptions away from breaking Anquan Boldin’s rookie record in a single season.

    In total, Waddle has 96 catches, 941 receiving yards and five touchdowns. While the Dolphins’ offense hasn’t been particularly consistent this season, Waddle has always been excellent.

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    Butch Dill / Press Associate

    Here’s something we learned over Miami’s seven-game winning streak. The Miami defense has the talent and the drive to be special. Quarterbacks and football have become a goal for Dolphins defensemen on the home stretch.

    “You’re going to do everything humanly possible to get that ball back,” said rookie pass thrower Jaelan Phillips, per. Joe schad from Palm Beach Post. “It’s a choice. I feel like you’re a bit of a coward if you don’t.”

    The Dolphins have allowed 250 yards or less overall in four straight games. They scored a takeaway in every game over the winning streak. They’ve allowed just 102 rushing yards since week five. On Monday, they embarrassed New Orleans.

    In addition to totaling eight sacks and two turnovers, the Dolphins’ defense allowed just 164 total yards of attack. Book had a passer rating of 40.6 making only 12 of 20 attempts. New Orleans didn’t convert a single third-down chance and was only 1 of 3 on the fourth down.

    If the Dolphins can make it to the playoffs, opponents won’t want to see that defense.

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    Butch Dill / Press Associate

    Here’s the problem for Miami. While they’re one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now, they could still miss the playoffs. Two tough games remain against the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots. Losing either could knock Miami out of the playoffs.

    Just as the Dolphins have played for the past two months, their first few fights could come at a cost.

    There was an overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 3, a two-point loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7, and the London loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in of week 6. These are regrettable results as winning any of them would have given Miami a bit of a cushion before January.

    And these are teams that this Miami team – in their current incarnation – would likely have handled, had they not been completed.

    There’s no clear reason why it took the Dolphins two months to get started, but it’s a shame it happened. The team we’ve seen in recent weeks deserve to be in the playoffs. The Dolphins now have to beat Tennessee and New England to prove it.


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