The Dolphins announced their team awards Thursday; among the four winners were a pair of rookies, including the Dan Marino Most Valuable Player, Jaylen Waddle.
Waddle has a chance to set the NFL record for most receptions by a rookie (101, Anquan Boldin in 2003). The wide receiver is the first rookie to win the award since linebacker Zach Thomas received the honors in 1996. He's the fifth rookie to win the award joining Thomas (1996), Marino (1983), David Woodley (1980) and Bob Griese (1967). Waddle has already set rookie franchise marks with his 99 receptions and 988 receiving yards.
"It means a lot," Waddle said of winning the award. "Just being on this team and trying to help win games. It means a lot."
Jason McCourty brought home the Don Shula Leadership Award. He's just the seventh player to win the award in his first season with the team joining Ryan Fitzpatrick (2019), Frank Gore (2018), Karlos Dansby (2010), Chad Pennington (2008), Junior Seau (2003) and Fred Barnett (1996). McCourty is just the second defensive back to earn the honor, joining safety Yeremiah Bell who was a co-recipient in 2009.
Elandon Roberts is the Ed Block Courage Award recipient, voted on by the team training staff. Roberts' relentless attitude and perseverance allowed him to return to the starting lineup in time for the season-opener at New England in Week 1 after enduring a season-ending knee injury in Week 16 of 2020. A team captain each of the last two years, Roberts set a career high with 79 tackles (42 solo) with one game left to play.
"It means a lot and I just want to really show my appreciation for the training staff here at the Miami Dolphins," Roberts said. "They were with me day in and day out. I can't really describe how I feel for that group of people in there. I won't name any names because I kind of know that they don't want any recognition. They just come in here every day and just try to do their jobs the best they can and I just appreciate them. To be honest, receiving this award to me is just basically showing a tribute to them because even though I was fighting day in and day out to get back, they were right there with me along the way."
The second rookie to take home some hardware is Jaelan Phillips. This year's recipient of the Nat Moore Community Service Award is the first rookie to receive the honors since the award's 1987 inception. Phillips has participated in numerous charitable activities in the South Florida community this year and volunteered his time on a near-weekly basis on his off days during the season. He has been available in times of need, donating his time and resources to help Surfside residents following the condo collapse and for Haiti Relief following the earthquakes in August 2021
"When I came down to South Florida, the first thing that I knew was that I wanted to really make an impact in the community both on the field and off the field," Phillips said. "Even in college, I tried to do my part doing community service with the team and with the athletic department, handing out food and supplies to the homeless people down in Overtown and different events like that. But when I went to the league, I obviously knew that my ability to do more increased in that the platform that I had would give me the ability to really spread that philanthropic mindset that I have and so I've been trying to do as much as a I can for the community."here he's made his biggest strides."
One More Time for 2021 (2022)
The season finale is less than 48 hours away as a familiar foe travels to South Florida in the the New England Patriots. The Dolphins can register the first season sweep over their AFC East rival since the 2000 season, and achieve back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1997-2003 when the club had seven-straight campaigns over .500.
Here are three quotes from Brian Flores, Tua Tagovailoa and Xavien Howard on preparing for the Patriots.
Head Coach Brian Flores on Patriots improvement from Week 1 meeting: "I think they've really improved in every area – offense, defense and special teams. I think they've dealt with injuries like every team and other guys have stepped up. I think there are some things that are standard operating procedure there. Guys play tough, play physical, play disciplined. They do a nice job overall."
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on tough Patriots defense: "I think they force the quarterback to get the ball out of their hands quick. They force quick decisions. They don't give up big plays. They want you to work for your touchdowns. If it's a checkdown that works for 10 yards, that's the kind of game they want to play. It's take what they give you and when you have your shots, you've got to take your shots when they arise."
Cornerback Xavien Howard on Patriots QB Mac Jones: "I feel like he's improved this whole season. When I first played him in Week 1, when I saw him play and the stuff he was doing I'm like, he's not a rookie. He was doing some stuff like he's been in the league a little minute. I've just seen him improve and I'm looking forward to seeing him this week."