One of the common themes from media sessions with the players this week was their closeness and camaraderie as a team. That much was evident when Christian Wilkins was hurling spitballs across the media room at Tua Tagovailoa while he attempted to answer questions about ball placement and footwork.
Perhaps it was a trip through the adversity of a seven-game losing streak, or simply the journey of taking the field each day and improving as a team, that has solidified the 2021 Dolphins as a close-knit brotherhood.
"I think our guys – we're still trying to find our rhythm and playing complementary football in all three phases of the game," Tagovailoa said. "I would also say we're really close as a team. I haven't done a lot of things off the field with many of my past teammates than I have this year with guys. I would say we're really close. It's really like a family, for sure."
Another example of this brotherhood can be found in a recently debuted touchdown dance – and in its inspiration. Rookie receiver Jaylen Waddle's play has garnered some dancing and introduced the world to the 'waddle,' his ironic shuffle-step move that he broke out the last two weeks after visiting paydirt.
"I actually did it last week because Christian always runs on for field goal," Waddle said. "He'll be the first one and we just started doing it… It's really just a me, Christian (Wilkins) and 'JP' (Jaelan Phillips) thing. We just do it. We just have fun."
The irony of it all, a player named Waddle who was tracked at a sub 4.3 40-yard-dash during his Alabama days, and owner of the fifth-fastest GPS-clocked time this season per Next Gen Stats (21.8 MPH on his 57-yard reception vs. the Panthers), waddling like a slow penguin.
While Wilkins hasn't scored any touchdowns this season, he is producing among the top of the leaderboard at his position group. His 45 percent run-stop win rate (an ESPN metric that tracks run defense) and 29 run stops (Pro Football Focus metric tracking tackles within two yards of the line-of-scrimmage) rank tied for first and second in the NFL, respectively. Still, Wilkins is jealous of the opportunities to dance afforded by Waddle both because of his name, and the frequency of his trips to the end zone.
"(Waddle) gave me some credit," Wilkins said. "He gave me the founder, I guess, credit. He did pretty good. I'm glad. It's a perfect celebration too. I wish I had a cool last name like Waddle or something. (laughter) I've been trying to get him to do it all year and he's finally found the courage to do it. We've been working on it all year but when he brought it out, it was pretty solid."
When he brings the quarterback down for a sack, however, his signature move hasn't changed -- the Power Rangers Morphin' Time move.
My Cause My Cleats
Week 13 is My Cause My Cleats week, the NFL's initiative that allows players to customize their cleats, which are later auctioned off with the money going to the charity represented on said player's shoes.
For the entire list of the Dolphins' My Cause My Cleats representation, click here.
Friday Injury Report