The Blitz: Christmas Eve in Miami

December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas Eve, Dolphins fans! We're one day away from the big holiday and two sleeps from the big game Saturday in Las Vegas.

Today on the Blitz, we'll revisit Christmas Eve 2016, detail Miami's stingy defense and opposing quarterback production, and the potential matchup of two quarterbacks from the same high school. Plus, later today, we'll bring you an exclusive interview with Dolphins linebacker Kyle Van Noy on Drive Time with Travis Wingfield.

Wednesday Injury Report

Dolphins

Safety Clayton Fejedelem and offensive guard Solomon Kindley did not practice on Wednesday.

Linebacker Jerome Baker and Kyle Van Noy, offensive guard Ereck Flowers, tight end Mike Gesicki, wide receivers Jakeem Grant and DeVante Parker, defensive end Shaq Lawson and safety Bobby McCain were all limited in Wednesday's practice.

Raiders

Defensive end Clelin Ferrell and linebacker Nicholas Morrow did not practice Wednesday.

Cornerback Damon Arnette, center Rodney Hudson, defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, offensive guard Gabe Jackson and tackle Sam Young were limited participants at Wednesday's Raiders practice.

Click here for the complete Dolphins-Raiders Week 16 injury report.

They Said It

The Dolphins make the trip out west Friday evening. Head Coach Brian Flores discussed the importance of this game and juggling the holiday season.

"It's the holiday season, so we'll try to make some time that everyone can spend with their families, but also try to get the work in because it's an important game also," Flores said. "I think our players understand that, so we obviously worked some yesterday, we'll work today, we'll work tomorrow as well and then we'll have some time to spend with our families tomorrow evening and Friday – Christmas morning – before we leave."

Working during the holidays comes with the territory in the National Football League -- a task this Dolphins team is champing at the bit to file in the successful category.

"The holiday means a lot because families come together, spend time, have Christmas dinner or lunch, a hot breakfast or however families do it," Dolphins safety Eric Rowe said. "This year it's a little bit different because usually every Christmas or around Christmas, there is always a game; but I've never had to leave on Christmas Day. It's definitely an adjustment but it's not a forever thing. We've got a job to get done and we've just got to go."

Around the Beat

Growing up, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's childhood living room wall proudly displayed a Marcus Mariota poster. The products of Honolulu's St. Louis High School could now share the same field Saturday night in Las Vegas if Mariota gets the starting nod.

Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post has more.

"He was a big role model for a lot of us kids back home," Tagovailoa said. "Marcus has a big legacy. Marcus is a person people looked up to a player and a human being."

The Ringer's Kevin Clark wrote a follow-up story to his 2019 story about the Dolphins program and plan under Head Coach Brian Flores and General Manager Chris Grier.

Patient building is more important. The Dolphins, with more than $100 million in cap space after their purge last year, augmented the young base with veterans on relatively expensive but flexible deals: Kyle Van Noy, Emmanuel Ogbah, and guard Ereck Flowers among them. Ogbah and Van Noy lead the team in sacks, a combined 15. Homegrown stars like Xavien Howard are paired with pricey free agents like Byron Jones. There are no guarantees in football—the Dolphins might not win big with this core—but the process is sound.

Dolphins On Social

On this Day in Dolphins History

December 24, 2016 - The Dolphins outlast the Buffalo Bills to continue their playoff push as Andrew Franks kicks a 27-yard field goal in the final minute of overtime and the Dolphins defeated the Bills 34-31 at New Era Field. The victory improves the Dolphins record to 10-5 and they clinch a playoff berth with a Kansas City victory over Denver the following day. Running back Jay Ajayi ends up with 206 rushing yards, his second 200-yard game against Buffalo during the season and third overall. Ajayi becomes the fourth player in NFL history to rush for 200 yards in at least three games in the same season, joining Tiki Barber (2005), Earl Campbell (1980) and O.J. Simpson (1973).

Stat of the Day

Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of just 83.9 against the Dolphins this season. That's the third-lowest passer rating allowed in the NFL behind only the Steelers and Rams.

Know the Raiders

It remains unknown who will start at quarterback for the Raiders in Saturday night's game. Both quarterbacks present challenges, but in different ways – particularly when it comes to taking sacks and running the football. 

Marcus Mariota wasn't sacked in his first game as a Raider, but he took an average of 3.68 sacks per game his last two years in Tennessee. Derek Carr has been sacked just 20 times in 14 games this season and was dumped only 29 times in 16 games last year.

Mariota's propensity to extend plays has produced 1,487 career rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground compared to Carr's 210 yards and five career rushing touchdowns.

Content on Tap

We have a special Christmas Eve feature with Dolphins linebacker Kyle Van Noy coming your way today. Kyle joined the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield to talk about his first season with the Dolphins, his eSports company, the Van Noy Valor Foundation and the Valiant Knights and bucking the stigma that comes with adoption. The podcast is accompanied by a written piece on MiamiDolphins.com.

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