Safety T.J. McDonald was recognized Thursday as the Dolphins winner of the 2018 Good Guy Award.
Selected by those who cover the team on a regular basis, the Good Guy Award is given to the player who best demonstrates the spirit of cooperation with the media.
“I’m definitely thankful,” McDonald said. “For me, you’ve got to be able to stand up in hard times, just like the good times, just be a man about your business and with the media be a pro. That’s how I’ve always attacked it, through the good games, through the bad games. I know you guys are going to be in here, you’ve guys got a job to do. For me, it’s just being a pro about it and going about it in a professional way.”
McDonald follows guard Jermon Bushrod in winning the award, which first was given out in 2001 when it was given to linebacker Zach Thomas. The three winners before Bushrod were DT Jared Odrick, C Mike Pouncey and S Michael Thomas.
McDonald said his approach to dealing with the media came in part from his father, Tim, who was a six-time Pro Bowl selection during his 13-year NFL career with the Cardinals and 49ers.
“Good game or bad game, you gotta treat them both the same,” T.J. McDonald said. “I know you guys got a job to do as well. I see you guys all the time. You just want to get an environment, you want to be able to bring good energy to your teammates and stuff like that and trying to keep the locker room together.”
X factor: One day after cornerback Xavien Howard was named Dolphins MVP for 2018, Head Coach Adam Gase offered one reason for Howard’s success: consistency. In answering a question about Bobby McCain’s performance this season, Gase said: “There’s nobody I can really say, ‘Hey, this guy was …’ Well, there’s one guy. He’s had consistently good games. He’s had a couple of rough ones, but I think it was like the fifth or sixth week (before that happened with) Xavien. For the most part, everybody has just had … There’s been good and then there’s been bad. On defense, it’s telling because you get exposed. Everybody knows that guy messed that up. Offensively, you might be able to screw up and get away with it and nobody will really notice.”
Making his move: Defensive coordinator Matt Burke was asked Thursday to name the player on his unit who had shown the most improvement from the start of the season to now, and the first name he mentioned was linebacker Raekwon McMillan. Burke added cornerback Jalen Davis and linebacker Mike Hull, but those two specifically referred to their performance against Jacksonville last Sunday. Referring to McMillan, Burke said, “He’s shown a lot of growth, especially the last six weeks. He’s played really well for us. From a run game standpoint, he’s been really good. Raekwon has shown a lot of progress throughout the season.” McMillan will enter the season finale needing two tackles to reach 100 for the season.
Sanders quest: Despite missing only his second field goal attempt of the season against Jacksonville last Sunday, rookie Jason Sanders still has a chance to tie or break the Dolphins’ single-season field goal accuracy record with a big game against the Buffalo Bills. Sanders would tie the record of 91.3 set by Jay Feely in 2007 and tied by Cody Parkey last year by going 4-for-4 against the Bills and a 5-for-5 performance would give him the record outright. Sanders also will enter the final regular season weekend leading the NFL in touchback percentage at 80.3 percent (53 touchbacks on 66 kickoffs). Dustin Hopkins of the Washington Redskins is second at 79.7 percent. By comparison, Parkey was 28th in the NFL last year at 41.8 percent.
College spirit: With the University of Alabama facing Oklahoma at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday night, an Alabama television reporter visited the Dolphins training facility to get some thoughts from rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick, who at this time last year was preparing for the Crimson Tide’s run to a national title. Fitzpatrick said he was planning on visiting his former teammates Thursday night, but he was disappointed to not be able to see the game live because the Dolphins will be in Buffalo on Saturday night getting ready for their regular season finale. “It’s going to be a real good game,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s in my home stadium now. It’s going to definitely be killing me because I know if I went to the game, I’d have a whole lot of fun. It would be exciting to be out there with a whole lot of energy. It’s a bummer I can’t go, but it is what it is. I gotta handle my business."