The 17th game, which was added to the 2021 schedule, is great for one reason, more football! And who wouldn't want that? Traditionally, the schedule was broken into four quarters, but even that was an adjustment from the 14-game season that evolved into 16 games in 1978.
So, while the first quarter of the season won't be officially in the books until the opening period concludes Sunday in Tampa, we're looking at the Dolphins 2021 class' first four games of their rookie campaigns.
Rookie Quarter-Point Report
Miami's draft class was top-heavy with five picks on the first two days of the draft and two more selections over the final four rounds. The rookies have already amassed 702 snaps just one year after the Dolphins 2020 class led the NFL in snaps played (4,858) by first-year players.
WR Jaylen Waddle
Snaps Played: 204
Stats: 25 receptions, 200 yards, TD
Waddle's shown the electric playmaking ability that made him the sixth pick in April's draft. His 4.4 average yards of separation is fifth-best in the NFL (Next Gen Stats). His 80.7 percent catch rate in 9th-best among players with at least 10 receptions and his percentage of yards after catch (65 percent, 130 YAC) is second-most in the NFL (Rondale Moore, 66.3 percent).
For further analysis on Waddle and the entire Dolphins 2021 class, download the Drive Time Podcast with Travis Wingfield, available wherever you get your podcasts.
LB Jaelan Phillips
Snaps Played: 118
Stats: 11 tackles, .5 sacks, 4 QB hits
Phillips enjoyed a bit of a breakthrough performance in Week 4 vs. the Colts. He had been showing growth each week, but it seemsthe production is beginning to match the effort and skill that Phillips flashed in the first month of the 2021 campaign. His 10 QB pressures are fourth-most among rookies (Micah Parsons 17, Osa Odighizuwa 15, Odafe Oweh 13).
S Jevon Holland
Snaps Played: 135
Stats: 8 tackles, 2 QB hits, fumble recovery
After a training camp that saw the rookie from Oregon turn in a handful of big plays, Holland is finding the football in the regular season. His hit on Jonnu Smith in the Week 1 win in New England was originally credited with the forced fumble (later award to Byron Jones), but that play showcased his closing speed and sure-tackling. Holland has been charged with just one missed tackle this season (PFF).
OT Liam Eichenberg
Snaps Played: 218
Stats: 94.6 pass blocking efficiency (Pro Football Focus)
Eichenberg started the last two games at right tackle after starting the season opener at left tackle. At his best, Eichenberg can be seen isolated in a one-on-one block with the protection sliding away from his matchup. His technique and ability to close distance between and the rusher stands out, as does his run blocking. The Dolphins second-highest rushing average by gap is off right tackle (4.3 yard per rush, PFF).
TE Hunter Long
Snaps Played: 20
With just 20 snaps played, Long's best work has occurred in the running game. Long hit key blocks on back-to-back wildcat snaps in the New England game where he achieved knockback at the point of attack on the two carries totaling 12 yards, which set up a first-and-goal from the Patriots' 3-yard-line.
Larnel Coleman, Gerrid Doaks, Trill Williams and Robert Jones are all either on the active roster or the practice squad. Only Jones has played game snaps (seven vs. Buffalo) from that group, but each had valuable experience in training camp and the preseason, waiting for their chances to make their debut and impact on Sundays.
Assistant Coaches Media
Dolphins assistants spoke to the media on Tuesday. Here are some of the comments regarding this rookie class.
Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer on Jaelan Phillips: "He's a diligent worker. He's working hard to improve some things he needs to improve … Jaelan is going to get better because of his work ethic and skill set. He gets a little more comfortable and the more experience he gets the better off he'll be, and that's true for all young guys.
Defensive Backs Coach Gerald Alexander on Jevon Holland's development: "Talking specifically to the safeties I think the consistency and execution of the details. The smallest things that end up being the biggest things that we need to do whether it be pad level, hand placement, eye discipline, alignments, depth in the deep defense, breaking off the proper foot, transition our eyes to our angles before we take our feet there … there's so many things that not only for Jevon and his development as a young guy, but all of us collectively as a unit when you start playing against teams like we're playing against this week where competitiveness and talent are always going to be there, but the level of detail when you're playing against an offense that can execute with precision like this are the things we have to consistently do."
Grant Traded to Chicago
The Dolphins dealt return specialist Jakeem Grant to the Chicago Bears Tuesday for an undisclosed draft choice.
Grant's journey to this point of his career was an unlikely one. At 5-foot-7, he was one of the subjects featured on the 2016 series 'Undrafted' which followed prospects not projected to hear their names called on draft day. He was the only player from the show to be selected. Grant flashed potential throughout his five-plus years including second-team All-Pro punt returner honors in 2020.