OK, so they didn't have anybody make the Pro Bowl. That's disappointing. But what isn't disappointing are some of the individual performances we have seen this season.
In fact, when I recently put together a list of the players who have had what I would term "good seasons" the number was higher than I had first imagined. This is encouraging. This is important. This, in so many ways, is what this season was really all about. Gauging progress. Identifying long-term pieces. Seeing which players have the wherewithal to consistently play well.
Granted, there has been a lot of turnover on this roster, a record amount, and some of these late additions simply haven't done enough to allow us to form any long-term conclusions. But so many others have. So many others have given us an entire season, or close to it, of indisputable evidence.
So with this season about to end Sunday in New England, and as we slowly begin turning the page toward perhaps the most important offseason in team history, here is the list I've put together of a dozen players, in no particular order, who have had good seasons, playing in a minimum of 10 games. See if you agree.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick: No, at 37 years old, he isn't a long-term piece. But in the list of good seasons, how can he not be included? I understand he has thrown 13 interceptions and I understand his completion percentage (61.4) is nowhere near among the best in the league. But Fitzpatrick has been everything and more that this team hoped he would be. He has been consistent and productive and has had an enormous impact on many of these young players.
- DeVante Parker: The numbers say this is his best season, and the highlight reel of remarkable catches only underline that. A year ago at this time I honestly didn't believe he would be back with this team. Now, I am convinced he is a keeper, very possibly the No. 1 receiver this team had envisioned when they selected him in the first round of the 2015 draft. If you can make an argument for any one player deserving of the Pro Bowl, it is probably Parker.
- Nik Needham: There is probably no player on this team that better depicts what the season is really about than this undrafted rookie cornerback out of UTEP. From basically off the radar to a starter during the course of one season, Needham is one of the real finds of this talent search. How good has he been? Good enough to be a part of this team's future.
- Mike Gesicki: After a slow start, Gesicki has come on strong over the last half of the season, giving the Dolphins the type of sure-handed, down-the-field threat that is so important in building an offense. Give this coaching staff credit for its creativity in how it uses Gesicki and give Fitzpatrick credit for finding him in some key situations. The arrow is now pointing up for Gesicki. How far up remains to be seen.
- Jesse Davis: You haven't heard his name very much this year, which probably tells you everything you need to know about an offensive lineman, certainly this offensive lineman. Amid all the week-to-week changes on the line, Davis has been consistently solid at right tackle. He clearly has the trust of this coaching staff and his contract extension earlier this season means he's an important part of this re-build.
- Raekwon McMillan: Before being placed on injured reserve earlier this month, the former second-round pick was having a strong season, clearly embracing this new defensive system. Perhaps the highlight of his season was a fourth down play in the second meeting against the Jets, when he was already in the backfield as the runner got the ball. McMillan finished with a very productive 72 tackles, but it is the improvement he made, also in defending the pass, that best defines his season.
- Jerome Baker: He leads the team in tackles. He's a captain of the defense. He calls signals. And while he didn't have many headline-screaming plays this season – only one sack and one interception – it is his consistency and overall knowledge of this defense that makes him so valuable. Baker is now finishing his second season. He's already a good player. His goal now is to be more than that.
- Vince Biegel: Yet another example of what this season is about. Biegel was acquired in the trade that sent Kiko Alonso to New Orleans. I initially thought he was just a throw-in, somebody to make the terms appear more equitable. But after watching him for 15 games, I'm not so sure the Dolphins didn't get the better of this trade. That he is the third linebacker on this list only underlines the strong, young nucleus now in place.
- Christian Wilkins: How is a defensive tackle credited with two pass breakups? Or how about a touchdown catch? That tells you a little about this rookie's versatility. No doubt there was an ejection and a few penalties he'd like to have back but overall this was a solid season where Wilkins has been healthy and productive throughout. He has been credited with 56 tackles through 15 games, which are nice stats for an interior lineman, but you get the feeling watching Wilkins that once he gets comfortable, real comfortable, he's going to be a special player.
- Davon Godchaux: With Wilkins and Godchaux, the Dolphins appear to be set at defensive tackle for the foreseeable future. Godchaux was productive for the third straight season, currently with 68 tackles and two sacks. It's often hard to gauge how well a defensive tackle is playing because his greatest value is often setting up plays for his teammates to finish. But Godchaux has stood out enough to know that his career is on the right course.
- Eric Rowe: Signed by the Dolphins as an unrestricted free agent Rowe has found a home at safety after playing some cornerback earlier in the season. How well has he played? Sometimes money speaks the loudest as Rowe received a three-year $18 million contract extension in early December. His 76 tackles are second on the team and his knowledge of this defense from his time in New England has proved invaluable.
- Jason Sanders: He caught a touchdown pass. He recovered his own onside kick. He converted seven field goals in one game. He had the game-winner in overtime against the Bengals. Any way you want to break it down, this has been a good season for the second-year placekicker.