Making it Look Easy
DeVante Parker, once again, made the extraordinary look ordinary. Pinned to the perimeter of the end zone Sunday, he snared a first-quarter pass from rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for the opening score of the game. Just one week after he nearly got both feet in for a miraculous touchdown reception, Parker emphatically stamped his feet inside the white lines to put six points on the board for the Dolphins.
Parker's flare from the dramatic is one of several consistent traits he offers. In earnest, his production explosion began in the victory over the Eagles last December when he posted a career-high 159 yards receiving. In that game, Parker elevated over defensive backs and pulled down not one, not two, but three plays for massive gains on what can normally be described as a "50-50 ball."
When throwing the jump ball to Parker, it's closer to an 80-20 ball.
After that game, Parker signed a contract extension through the 2023 season. Coming into this season, and throughout the year at his press conferences, Parker has repeatedly hammered home his primary goal for the season: availability.
"Staying healthy and playing 16 games, that's it," Parker said of his 2020 goals back in August.
So far, so good. Parker has played in every Dolphins game despite a few appearances on the injury report. His mindset is geared towards always being available to make plays for his team.
"I don't have time to be missing out on games and little stuff like that," Parker said "The little tweaks -- I just feel like I've got to come back in."
Since missing at least one game a year from 2016-2018, Parker has played in all 28 Dolphins games dating back to the start of 2019. Since Week 9 of last season, Parker's 1,382 receiving yards are sixth-most in the NFL. Over that span, he's played all 19 games and produced five 100-yard performances. On just five occasions, Parker produced less than 50 yards receiving, and he was forced to exit one of those games in the first quarter (2019 at the Jets).
Consistency is a hallmark of this Dolphins program under Head Coach Brian Flores in the same way a selfless, team-first mentality is a requirement. At a position that often carries the tag of diva, Parker is anything but.
"Whatever position I'm in, wherever the coaches – whatever position they put me in to make a play, that's what I've got do," Parker said. "I'm not worried about stats and all that. I just want to win."
Parker was clutch on Sunday with six receptions on eight targets. He caught the touchdown and moved the chains on four other receptions, three of which came on crucial third downs. Monday, Flores talked about the dependability of Parker both in terms of availability and reliability on tough, contested catches.
It certainly gives (Tagovailoa) confidence to throw it to him, that he'll make contested catches," Flores said. "In those critical moments, it's a good feeling to have somebody like that out on the field. DeVante has done everything he can to get out there and play. He's played through some nicks and bruises. He's definitely a team-first guy."
Before last Sunday's win over the Chargers, Parker showed solidarity for a teammate who wasn't available to play in the game. Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins makes no bones about his affinity for Power Rangers as a youth, so Parker paid homage to Wilkins' favorite television show as a child.
On the Topic of Consistency
Dolphins defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah set a career-high with eight sacks this season. That mark ties him for fourth in the NFL and the streak of six consecutive games with a sack between Weeks 4-10 etched his name near the top of an impressive list in Dolphins prestige.
Only Jason Taylor's eight-game run in 2002 tops the six-game stretch with a sack by Ogbah. He tied Doug Betters (1983) and two separate Taylor six-game streaks (2003 and 2000) for the second-longest streak of games with a sack in team history.
Ogbah's red hot run is catching the attention of the NFL. He was the featured subject on and NFL Today on CBS segment this past Sunday.
The Dolphins won five of the six games during Ogbah's sack streak. After three years in Cleveland, Ogbah spent 2019 in Kansas City with the Super Bowl Champion Chiefs.
"In Kansas City, I learned how to win and so I kind of took that with me when I came here," Ogbah said of signing with Miami. "I'm hoping to be in Miami for the rest of my career."
Ogbah's eight sacks are 2.5 more than his previous high (both 2019 and 2016). He's only six quarterback pressures away from matching his career-high of 46, he's six run stops shy of his high-water mark of 25, and he'll match his career-best 16 QB hits if he picks up two more over the final six games.
"Am I surprised?" Ogbah opined. "Not really, because I knew what I was capable of. I guess it just took the right coaching to bring it out of me."
Ogbah has consistently pointed to the trust of his coaches to put him in position to make plays.
"When I come to the sideline and say, 'hey, the offensive tackle is giving me this and whatnot, I want to take this move,' that's why I was telling them like, 'hey, I'm going to take this move, can you have somebody cover me?' That's the trust we have with each other," Ogbah said.
In the NFL Today piece, he was particularly complimentary of Head Coach Brian Flores.
"Coach Flores pushes you hard because he knows you're better than what you're giving," Ogbah said. "It makes you a better player and you love to play for a guy like that."
Flores reciprocates his appreciation for the 6-foot-4 presence on the Dolphins defensive line and the total package he offers.
"I think Ogbah does a great job from the standpoint of taking on blockers, taking on double teams, setting the edge, getting in the gap on a game or a stunt, getting his hands up on quick throws, communication," Flores said. "Those things have been very good."
The Dolphins roster is the second-youngest in the NFL with an average age of 25.67. Three of the younger players on the roster (Solomon Kindley, Robert Hunt and Austin Jackson) played a combined 130 snaps Sunday.
Monday, Flores touched on the loss and the season-high six quarterback sacks allowed.
"I don't accept bad play here," Flores said. "We expect a lot of every player, rookie or veteran, everyone in the organization. We need to do a better job on the o-line, d-line, secondary, receiver position, all positions. We got to use it as a learning experience and we've got to move forward."
Kindley had to exit the game after 31 snaps after aggravating a foot injury.
"His foot bothered him during the game so obviously we pulled him," Flores said. "It's still early so we're still kind of in evaluation mode. He's going to get back as soon as he can. He's a tough kid."
Ted Karras reflected on the performance of the rookie offensive linemen by saying it wasn't just the rookies, it was the whole offense that has to play better.
"I think we all had a tough day yesterday as an offensive unit," Karras said. "These next (six) weeks here determine our fate for this season so we're very eager to turn the page. It's never a good feeling after a performance like that but we have another test here in six days so we're going to work hard to win this next one."
Flores asserted his belief – and the team's belief – in another rookie on Monday in Tagovailoa.
"This is clearly a very talented player. He's played well," Flores said. "He's a developing player. We have a lot of confidence in him. That's why he's the starter."
Flores further addressed the decision to make a change at quarterback.
"I'm always going to try to do what I feel is best for the team in a particular game and that's kind of how we felt yesterday," Flores said. "That's really it. We couldn't get into a rhythm the majority of the first three quarters. It became a two-score game so we stuck Fitz in there. We felt that was the best chance for us to win a ball game last night."
On the topic of the offensive line, the Dolphins placed tackle/guard Jesse Davis on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday.
This Guy Again?
Xavien Howard's sixth interception of the season vaulted him into a tie for the league lead with New England's J.C. Jackson. His counterpart, Byron Jones, can hardly believe what he's seeing out of his teammate.
"You can't see my facial expression in the helmet but it's like 'this freaking guy again?' It's been really fun to play with him," Jones said.
"When X gets an interception, in my mind I get one too," he continued. "He has enough for everyone in the secondary. As long as he keeps getting them -- we all want to contribute, but if we just stick to the technique and stick to the fundamentals it'll come. But we're happy when he gets them."