Winners of three consecutive games, Brian Flores’ Miami Dolphins continue to improve and open eyes as well.
Seven games into the 2019 season, the team from South Florida was still looking for its first win of the year. And it wasn’t just the fact that the Miami Dolphins sported a 0-7 record, the season began with home losses to the Baltimore Ravens (59-10) and New England Patriots (43-0) by a combined 102-10 count. All told, the club’s 0-7 start saw the ‘Fins outscored a combined 238-77. New head coach Brian Flores saw his squad score nine total touchdowns and commit 17 turnovers.
Of course, things would get better as the club won five of its final nine contests. Still, a 5-11 record put the Dolphins in the basement of the AFC East. The team was dead last in the league in rushing, was 30th in total defense, logged an NFL-low 23 sacks, and permitted the most points in the league (494).
But the goal in Miami was to change the culture and the message sent by both Flores and general manager Chris Grier had been sent loud and clear. Still, 2020 got off to a rough start with tough divisional losses to the Patriots and Bills. But the Dolphins have been a much different team as of late. And as the club prepares for Sunday’s clash with the 5-2 Arizona Cardinals, all sides of the ball have been performing much more efficiently.
Seven games do not make a season. But Flores’ team is suddenly giving up the fewest points per game in the NFL. That aforementioned shaky pass rush from a year ago has totaled 17 quarterback traps this season. A club that managed just 16 takeaways in ’19 has already forced 17 turnovers.
So what about the offense, now under the command of rookie signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa? While the ground attack is averaging just 98 yards per game, that’s actually a major improvement from a year ago (72.3). Second-year pro, Myles Gaskins leads the club with 387 yards rushing and 585 yards from scrimmage. And be it the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft or ageless quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins have allowed only 11 sacks in seven outings this season. A year ago, Miami and Carolina allowed a league-high 58 QB traps.
The team is currently riding a three-game winning streak heading into their clash with the Cardinals at Arizona – by a combined 95-34. They’ve won each of those contests by double digits and all four of their victories this season have been by double digits. A year ago at this time, those kind of scores were commonplace when it came to the Dolphins. But it’s safe to say that Flores and company have certainly flipped the script.