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Inside the Numbers: Year In Review

The Miami Dolphins finished the 2023 regular season 11-6 for their second consecutive winning season under Head Coach Mike McDaniel and first 11-win season since 2008.

McDaniel is just the third coach in Dolphins history to make the playoffs in each of his first two seasons at the helm, joining Hall of Famer Don Shula (1970-71) and Dave Wannstedt (2000-01).

The Dolphins have now played in the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time since 1997-2001. 

We go Inside the Numbers, presented by BDO, to take a look at the most notable team stats, individual metrics, milestones and more from a memorable 2023 season.

A Dynamic Passing Attack

The Dolphins led the league in total offense (401.3) - for the first time since 1994 - as well as passing offense (265.5) and quarterback hits allowed (59). That all translated into the league's second-ranked scoring offense (29.2) operated by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa

Tagovailoa led the NFL with a career-high 4,624 passing yards and tied for fifth in passing touchdowns (29). He also finished fourth in passer rating (101.1), third in completion percentage (69.3) and second in yards per pass attempt (8.3).

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill paced the NFL with a league-best 1,799 receiving yards on 119 receptions (15.1 avg.) and tied for first with 13 receiving touchdowns in 16 games played. Hill's 1,799 yards are seventh most in NFL history and set a new franchise record, breaking his previous mark of 1,710 yards set last season. He is the first player in NFL history to have 1,700+ receiving yards in multiple seasons.

Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle also made history, becoming the first Dolphins player to post three straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons and the ninth receiver in NFL history to begin a career with three straight 1,000-yard seasons.

Hill and Waddle joined Philadelphia's DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown and Tampa Bay's Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as one of three pairs of teammates to both reach 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons.

Tagovailoa and Hill are the first QB-WR duo to be outright league leaders in both passing and receiving yards in the same season since Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson did so for Houston in 2009.

The Run Game

The story of Miami's prolific offense can't be told without mentioning the run game, which registered a franchise-record 5.1 yards per carry and tied for first in the NFL with 27 rushing touchdowns. The Dolphins also finished third in yards before contact per rush (1.95) and first in yards after contact per rush (3.39).

A big reason for those top marks was the play of 31-year-old running back Raheem Mostert, who eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his nine-year NFL career.

Mostert's 18 rushing scores were the most in a Dolphins season, breaking Ricky Williams' record of 16 rushing touchdowns in 2002. Mostert's 21 total touchdowns tied for the NFL lead with San Francisco running back Christian McCaffrey and were the most ever in a Dolphins season, breaking a record held by Mark Clayton, who had 18 touchdowns in 1984.

Running back De’Von Achane, Miami's third-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, also played a pivotal role in the success of Miami's rushing attack.

Achane finished the season with 103 carries for 800 yards and 11 total touchdowns. His 7.8 yards per carry average is the most of any running back in a season in NFL history (min. 100 carries).

Achane only played in nine games with more than one carry,  but still accounted for four of the seven games in which NFL rookie running backs recorded 100+ rushing yards and an offensive touchdown. His four 100-yard rushing games tied the Dolphins rookie record.

Before this year, just three Dolphins players (non-QB) had scored double-digit offensive touchdowns in a season since 2009 and no Dolphin had done so since running back Lamar Miller scored 10 offensive touchdowns in 2015. 

In 2023, Mostert (21), Achane (11) and Hill (13) all scored 10+ offensive touchdowns and joined Lorenzo Hampton (12), Mark Duper (11) and Mark Clayton (10) from the 1986 team as the second trio of teammates in Dolphins history to each score double-digit touchdowns in the same season.

A Stout Defense

The Dolphins finished the year ranked 10th in total defense, allowing just 318.3 yards per game.

It was the first time Miami finished a season with a top 10 defense since 2010 (6th, 309.3).

Miami also led the NFL in quarterback hits (131) and ranked third with a franchise-record 56.0 sacks.

Miami's 144.0 sacks over the past three seasons are the most in the NFL.

Not only did Miami's pass rushers get to the quarterback, but they were also impactful in stopping the run. Miami ranked sixth in opponent yards per rush (3.8) and has allowed just one 100-yard rushing performance by a running back in the last 34 regular season games (Austin Ekeler, 2023 - Week 1). The San Francisco 49ers are the only other NFL team that has allowed less than three 100-yard rushing games by running backs over the past two seasons.

The middle of Miami's defensive front is where you'll find defensive tackles Zach Sieler and Christian Wilkins, who each had career years. Sieler (10.0 sacks) and Wilkins (9.0 sacks) ranked third and fifth, respectively, in sacks by NFL defensive tackles this season and now own the top two single-season marks by Dolphins defensive tackles as well.

Miami's sack leader, linebacker Bradley Chubb (11.0), also finished the season tied with Tampa Bay safety Antoine Winfield Jr. for the most forced fumbles in the NFL (6). 

Miami's 15 forced fumbles as a team were tied for the most since 2006 (22).

The Dolphins defense will enter Week 1 of the 2024 season with the NFL's longest active takeaway streak (12 games, including playoffs).

Special Teams

Kicker Jason Sanders turned in a strong sixth season with the Dolphins, making 24 of his 28 field goal attempts. Sanders' biggest moment of the season came in Miami's playoff-clinching win over Dallas in Week 16, when he made all five of his field goal attempts and his lone extra point attempt. 

Sanders had never attempted three field goals of 50+ yards in a game, but nailed all three against the Cowboys. In addition to a career-long 57-yard kick, he also connected on the game-winning boot from 29 yards out as time expired to send Miami to the postseason, and won AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance. 

It was one of just 11 games this season in which a kicker scored over 15 points. 

Sanders' 58 made extra points are the second-most in a season in team history and tied for 11th-most by any kicker in a season since 2000.

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