Miami Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders might as well flip the bird visibly to the national cameras going forward to remind all the teams who passed on him that they made a mistake.
Then, he can go home and light a cigar, dress in his king’s robe and crown, put his feet up and watch all the lesser kickers of the NFL in prime time miss chip-shot extra points and what should be automatic field goals.
Well, that’s a little drastic, but that’s what I’d do if I was Sanders.
Sanders’ Kicking Earns Him Franchise Records
Sanders has set a Miami-franchise record in consecutive field goals made to begin a season, knocking his 14th straight through on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. It was also his second consecutive game with five field goals made and he has scored 34 points for the Dolphins in the last two weeks alone, also a record.
So, what? The Dolphins are 2-3 this season and likely don’t have the team built to win the AFC East division this year.
Sanders’ Can Kick Miami to Wins
But Sanders’ consistency and impressive conversions can win Miami games even if it isn’t good enough to win the entire division.
A rebuild takes time and usually has a lot of growing pains from player-to-player, but one sure-thing we know for now is the kicking position is set for years to come.
Sanders Ahead of Big-Name NFL Kickers
Sanders also has more than half of his made field goals from 40 or more yards, proving just how vital he really is. He even has more points on the season than big name kickers that come to mind when you think of the position. Sanders (54) has eight more points on the season than New Orleans Saints’ kicker Wil Lutz (48), nine more points than the Baltimore Ravens’ Justin Tucker (49), 13 more points than the Green Bay Packers’ Mason Crosby (41), 17 more points than the Dallas’ Cowboys’ Greg Zuerlein (37), 18 more points than the 49ers’ Robbie Gould (36) and 25 more points than the Minnesota Vikings’ Dan Bailey (29).
Run Game Getting Sanders Just Close Enough
We can’t forget that Miami’s leading rusher last season was quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and he had just a little more than 200 yards. Nothing screams how a team can’t run the ball more than that.
While the Dolphins’ offseason RB acquisitions have improved the overall quality of Miami’s run game, it’s no where close to being relied on. So, having a kicker who can consistently nail long kicks is crucial if there are some drives the Dolphins’ offense struggles.
We saw in Miami’s game a few weeks ago against Seattle that the Dolphins defense was actually holding their own with the Seahawks, but their inability to reach the end zone cost them another game. But, Sanders’ kicking was perfect and Miami moving even partially down the field lined them up for points on more than half of its drives. At one point, the Dolphins only trailed 17-15, thanks to Sanders’ five made kicks.
Miami’s Scoring Being Brought to Life By Sanders
Scoring has also been something Miami has struggled with in recent seasons. Sanders’ so far for-sure kicks have sparked the team as a whole. Coming away with points is the entire point of the drive, and now that Miami has gone just far enough it has created a game script this team has been striving for.
The Dolphins are coming together and feeding off the firepower of Sanders, while in return Sanders is feeding off of them. The uptick in progression for both Sanders and Miami has come fast, as the Dolphins are knocking off and keeping pace with some of the top teams in the league already in 2020 after less than a season and a half with head coach Brian Flores.
43 points against a representative of last season’s Super Bowl is no joke. The story line of that game isn’t that San Francisco is injured. It’s that Miami traveled cross-country to PLAY. Sanders led the charge with 20 of the team’s 43 points and he has a chance again to put up large numbers this week at home against the winless New York Jets. So keep sleeping on the history he’s making, he’ll keep popping cigars.