Jerome Baker embodies all of the things Brian Flores and the Miami Dolphins are looking for in a player. Aside from his durability, versatility and on-field leadership, Baker is also a leader in his community.
The Miami Dolphins announced Tuesday linebacker Jerome Baker as its nominee for the Walter Payton Man NFL Man of the Year Award, presented by Nationwide. Considered one of the league's most prestigious honors, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. Each of the league's 32 nominees were announced Tuesday.
Baker is a regular presence in the South Florida community, utilizing his platform as a Miami Dolphins player to make Miami and the surrounding area a better place. One of the first recurring events he established after he was drafted by the Dolphins in 2018 was a Christmas event for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade. Born on Christmas Day himself, he hosts the event for children as a birthday gift and even made sure the event could be held virtually in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Parker made an emphatic return to the lineup registering five receptions for 62 yards on five pass targets. Two of those receptions were gorgeous toe-tap grabs along the sideline with well-located back-shoulder balls from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
"I think you just throw it to the guy and let him catch it because he's done that and he's proven that in his career," Co-OC George Godsey said. "There's a lot of evidence on tape of guys that have his ability that just get up there and catch the ball whether it's behind them, in front of them or a jump ball. As many times as we can get the ball in his vicinity, we like it."
The numbers back up Godsey's claim -- Parker's 53 contested catches since Week 1 of 2019 are the second-most behind only Marvin Jones' 57 (Lions and Jaguars).
Parker's return to the lineup stresses opposing defenses.
"It creates a lot of defensive issues outside," Godsey said. "He does a good job blocking in the run game. He's got a lot of experience to help out the guys in the meeting room."
"DeVante adds another vertical stretch for us offensively, and he makes tough catches when you need him to, so really glad to have him back," Tagovailoa said post-game Sunday.
Tua Takes an Impressive Streak into the Bye
Tagovailoa made a return of his own to the lineup back in the Week 10 victory over the visiting Baltimore Ravens. Since Tagovailoa helped guide to victory on that Thursday night, he and the Dolphins are unbeaten in three starts since.
Including that relief performance in Week 10, Tagovailoa has four straight games with a passer rating better than 100.0. Nobody else in the NFL has a streak of more than two such games this season.
Over the last five weeks (min. 100 pass attempts), Tagovailoa is sixth in yards per attempt (7.7), fourth in passer rating (109.2) and he's one of five starting quarterbacks with one-or-fewer interceptions. He has the sixth-lowest sack percentage of any quarterback this season (4.2 percent).
Additionally, the Dolphins have four plays of 50-plus yards since the start of the win streak (Week 9) – that leads the NFL. Those completions include:
Jacoby Brissett to Isaiah Ford for 52 yards vs. Baltimore
Tagovailoa to Albert Wilson for 64 yards vs. Baltimore
Tagovailoa to Mack Hollins for a 65-yard touchdown at the Jets
Tagovailoa to Jaylen Waddle for 57 yards vs. Carolina.
Not in My House (Batted Passes)
The Dolphins lead the NFL is batted passes at the line of scrimmage. Emmanuel Ogbah's seven-game streak with at least one pass defensed was snapped on Sunday but he still leads all defensive linemen with nine passes defensed this season. His teammates picked him up last week with another two deflections at the line o -scrimmage.
There's an art to the batted pass, according to Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer.
"It's no different than tackling," Boyer said. "We have specific drills that we use that have specific coaching points, just like we do with tackling, just like we do with interceptions, just like we do with defeating blocks. It's something I would say as a defense we highlight. And really we started that a year ago with the batted balls. We kind of explained the impact that they have on the game and our players have bought into one the impact they have on the game, but two the drills we ask them to do. Then obviously we're seeing some success or some carry-over from the drills we do in practice to when they do them in group periods versus whether it be our offense or a show team, to game situations."
The Miami Dolphins today announced they have signed center Cameron Tom to the practice squad.