As the team turns the page from a win over the Panthers to its preparation for the New York Giants, we talked to the Dolphins assistant coaches on Tuesday about the roster, a recent addition, the growth of young players, how a blocked punt comes together, versatility on display, competitive spirit and celebrating as a collective group.
Completing better than 80 percent of his passes for the second-straight week, and on a tear since entering the lineup in the third quarter in Week 10 vs. the Ravens, Tua Tagovailoa now has 16 starts under his belt as a pro. With better than 3,500 passing yards and 27 total touchdowns compared to just 12 turnovers, Miami's southpaw signal-caller is trending in the right direction.
"I just continue to see growth, Frye said. "Young quarterbacks go through a development stage and what you want to see is growth, and a lot of that growth is due to hard work that nobody sees. That's what it takes to play the position and you're seeing a lot of his hard work carry over from meetings after meetings after meetings, then walkthrough, then practice, then take that to the game."
As the starts begin to pile up, and the Dolphins build a winning streak, Tagovailoa league-ranks in the month of November impress.
Ice Cold Celebration, Burning Fire to Win for Waddle
One trait Brian Flores always says he wants to see in players is a love for the game of football. And one player that regularly exhibits how much he wants to win football games is rookie wide receiver Jaylen Waddle.
"I think he ratchets it up," Dolphins Wide Receivers Coach Josh Grizzard said about Waddle's game-day intensity. "But you can see it on the practice field, too. Whether it's from the time he got here, just wanting to compete. Whether it's going up against the scout team or going good-against-good, he brings it. He does a good job in the classroom with it, too … I think it's just natural on gameday and you just take that from here and it goes up a little more."
His penguin waddle celebration is a momentary departure from Waddle's typical gameday mindset, one that displays the fire, intensity and competitive spirit. The Dolphins rookie receiver has a pair of touchdowns and a 57-yard reception en route to a combined 17 receptions and 202 yards over the last two weeks. The surge vaulted the No. 6 pick in the draft to the top Pro Football Focus grade among rookie wideouts.
The long reception Sunday was the fifth-fastest speed tracked in the NFL this year (21.8 MPH, per Next Gen).
"He was rolling," Grizzard said. "I had a few people send me that stat, which sounds about right. I thought he was moving even faster when he tracked down the 'backer from Atlanta on the interception, he just didn't have the ball."
The NFL is a unique business for a myriad of reasons, perhaps none more than how quicky opportunity can arise.
Phillip Lindsay's season-high in rushing yards was 39 entering Sunday (as a member of the Houston Texans). After arriving in Miami on Wednesday night, Lindsay factored in 12 carries for 42 yards on the ground, 15 total snaps and a key blitz pickup on the 57-yard strike from Tagovailoa to Waddle.
"I think Eric (Studesville) did a great job of getting him ready," Head Coach Brian Flores said. "We had a small package for him, let's call it eight-to-10 plays. Phillip was on top of it. We probably could have given him another eight-to-10 plays and he would have got it all down. We spent a lot of time going through it, walkthrough, they met, did walkthrough some more and they met some more. They worked ball handling with the quarterbacks, went through the protections. Walked through it, went through it some more. They spent a lot of time on it and it's just a credit to Phillip and his commitment to getting it right and Eric getting him coached up and ready to go."
Lindsay's 42 yards were second-most in the game behind Myles Gaskin and his 3.42 average yards after initial contact was impressive on such a turbulent week for him.
"It's a credit to him and the work he put in, in a short period of time," Dolphins Co-Offensive Coordinator Eric Studesville said. "And also how motivated he was to get out and play and compete and find a way to contribute however he could."
Holland's Role, Versatility Symbolic of Team Philosophy
Three weeks ago, rookie safety Jevon Holland blitzed Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson 22 times and produced the most pressures in a game by a safety since Next Gen Stats began charting GPS data in 2016.
Sunday against the Panthers, Holland blitzed just once. Instead, he played largely in the deep post for 27 coverage snaps without allowing a single receiving yard.
"That's kind of been the philosophy that Coach Flores has had in regards to what he looks for in a Miami Dolphin," Dolphins Defensive Backs Coach Gerald Alexander said. "A guy that loves the game, that's multiple and presents versatility and you can use him in different roles. Jevon has done a great job of being able to display his versatility between his skillset in the deep defense as well as his effectiveness towards the line of scrimmage. So, we have an opportunity to look at the things we want to do defensively on a week-by-week game plan and be able to utilize our personnel the way we see fit."
Holland's partner in crime the last few weeks, Brandon Jones, was down on Sunday with an injury. Eric Rowe saw a workload increase seeing his highest snap-percentage of the season, producing some gaudy stats in his own regard. Playing split safety, covering the slot and factoring in down around the line of scrimmage, Rowe totaled five tackles, a pass breakup and 37 receiving yards allowed on 35 coverage snaps.
"We're fortunate to have some really good players, specifically in the safety room," Alexander said. "When you put in a guy like Rowe, who had a role and has had a role, and that role obviously increased with (Brandon Jones) going down, that is something he's not unfamiliar with because he's been in that role before. It was good to see him excel in that situation."
Everything is Better with Friends
Thanksgiving is all about family, football … and friends! Reflective of the game of football, those three elements translate inside the white lines and beyond the playing field.
For the Miami Dolphins, it's not about who makes the play, just as long as the play gets made. Zach Sieler was mic'd up for Sunday's win over the Panthers, doing very little to hide his excitement over his teammate Christian Wilkins collecting a sack in the game.
"I'll be honest with you, man, I'm lucky as hell to work here because it's a selfless group," Dolphins Defensive Line Coach Austin Clark said. "That's one example but, for us, that's every day. That's how all these guys are -- it doesn't matter who it is, these guys like playing together and it's amazing what guys can individually accomplish when no one cares who receives the credit."
The Art of the Blocked Punt
The Dolphins blocked their second punt in as many seasons and produced the first touchdown of the game Sunday. Dolphins Special Teams Coordinator Danny Crossman broke the play down for us:
"A little bit of movement, trying to get them into communication breakdowns," he said. "Making sure their vision was maybe where it wasn't supposed to be and any time you get people having to communicate, there's potential for an issue and an opportunity for us to make a play."
To hear more audio from the assistant's Tuesday pressers, download the latest edition of the Drive Time Podcast (out Wednesday morning).