The Dolphins were among the most active teams this offseason when it came to acquiring new talent. Miami entered the draft with 14 selections after signing 10 NFL free agents in March. They would add running back Matt Breida via trade and signed safety Kavon Frazier over the draft weekend while ultimately making 11 selections during the NFL's most popular offseason event.
The result for those 23 player additions: 5,502 snaps played, seven touchdowns, 14 sacks, six takeaways, 240 tackles and just 51 quarterback pressures on 1,107 pass blocking snaps (pressure on 4.5 percent of the collective pass plays) across five new offensive line additions.
That doesn't include the production from Adam Shaheen (a July trade acquisition), Lynn Bowden Jr. (acquired for a draft pick swap with Las Vegas in September) or Salvon Ahmed (signed as a street free agent in-season). It doesn't include undrafted defensive tackle Benito Jones or Zach Sieler and Mack Hollins who were both claimed off waivers just before the start of the offseason last December.
Michael Lombardi of the Athletic authored a piece about Miami's offseason moves and the impact the 2020 haul of veteran and rookie contributions is having on the organization.
The Fins can pressure the passer with an assortment of blitzes and have the talent to hold up on the back end. They added Emmanuel Ogbah to their front seven, and his ability to rush has been outstanding.
"It's our ability to adapt on a weekly basis – we have a sign that says adapt or die in our (defensive backs) room," Dolphins safety Bobby McCain said, before quickly adding "not literally."
McCain continued: "Putting pressure on the quarterback, the o-line, the coordinator – making them feel us, you don't know where we're coming from or what we're doing. We have good game plans every week."
Lombardi's colleague at The Athletic, Ted Nguyen, turned on the tape to dissect the schematics of the Dolphins defense and pressure packages under Head Coach Brian Flores and Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer.
The story seems to be the same for each of the Miami Dolphins' opponents during their five-game win streak. After each game, opposing quarterbacks explained in their post-game press conference that they had a plan for the Dolphins' pressure looks and blitzes but they just couldn't execute.
Nguyen's deep dive shows the on-field examples for why the Dolphins have won five consecutive games with a defense that ranks near the top of the league in several key categories. Since Week 5, Miami is first in Total QBR against (36.0), points per game allowed (17.2) and is second in quarterback pressures (86) and completion percentage allowed (57.0 percent).
The defense hasn't found success exclusively through the 2020 offseason acquisition period. In 2019, Miami acquired Eric Rowe, who has changed positions and become one of the league's most productive safeties in coverage and against the run. They picked up Christian Wilkins in the first round; he's fifth in the NFL in ESPN's run stop rate among interior defensive linemen. They found a pair of productive offensive skill players in running back Myles Gaskin and wide receiver Preston Williams in the seventh-round and in the undrafted free agency pool.
They also found linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel in the fifth round.
The second-year, do-it-all pro out of Wisconsin has two forced fumbles (one on defense, one on special teams), he has a 78-yard scoop and score to his credit and a blocked a punt that put Miami on the Chargers' 1-yard-line (paid off by a Salvon Ahmed touchdown run on the next play) in Sunday's win.
Van Ginkel's hand in the hidden yardage battle is part of a greater story of where Miami has been dominant – the explanation for why the team is ninth in the NFL in scoring but 28th in total offense.
Not only has the Miami special teams and defense taken it upon themselves to score three touchdowns without the offense ever taking the field – and, in essence, taking three potential drives away from the offensive attack – they are setting up rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with short fields on a weekly basis.
Since Tagovailoa took over the controls of the offense, Miami has nine takeaways. Turnovers on downs and the blocked punt is included in that statistic, and out of a possible 63 points off of those nine turnovers, (seven points times nine takeaways equals 63, sans two-point conversion attempts) the Dolphins have scored 49 points.
Taking advantage of short fields and capitalizing on the opposition's mistakes is something of a hallmark of good football teams.
"You always want to end the drive in a kick," Tagovailoa said. "Field goal or a punt, you always want to end it in a kick. When the defense gives us the ball back, we're just thinking it's an opportunity for us to go put points on the board. We need to put points on the board to re-pay that."
Tagovailoa was, of course, part of the offseason haul that has helped Miami to wins in six of the nine games this season. But the selfless mentality of this football team is not exclusive to the newcomers. Incumbents, like wide receiver Jakeem Grant, are doing their part to make the team successful by both contributing and creating opportunities for other players.
"Jakeem does a lot of brotherhood routes," Tagovailoa said. "What I mean by that is he runs routes knowing he's not going to get the ball but to get other guys open. But he also makes plays when his number is called. He's a really good teammate."
One player out of 53 on the roster, Tagovailoa credits Flores for helping to alleviate pressure from a winning streak or any expectations, and credits the camraderie of the team for the ability to play winning football five games in a row.
"Coach Flo alleviates all of the pressure," Tagovailoa said. "He tells all of us rookies and players just to perform to the best of our abilities. That's all they ask of us. Everyone on this team, we all just want to do good and we fight for one another. We play as a family and for one another."
Wednesday Injury Report
Dolphins: Linebacker Kyle Van Noy (hip) didn't practice on Wednesday and offensive guard Solomon Kindley (foot) was a limited participant at practice.
Broncos: Quarterback Drew Lock (ribs), tight end Noah Fant (ribs), tackle Jake Rodgers (shoulder), and inside linebacker Joe Jones (calf) did not practice Wednesday.
Tackle Calvin Anderson (ankle), cornerback A.J. Bouye (hip), wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (ankle), inside linebacker Josey Jewell (quadircep) and safety Trey Marshall (ankle) were all limited participants at Wednesday's practice.
For the rest of the Dolphins-Broncos Week 11 injury report, click here.