The Miami Dolphins today announced they have signed defensive tackle Zach Sieler to a contract extension through the 2023 season. He's played all nine games and totaled 26 tackles (13 solo) and 1.5 sacks on the season.
"It just shows the organization has faith in me and I want to go out there each week and show how happy I am," Sieler said.
According to Pro Football Focus, Sieler has 17 quarterback pressures and 17 run stops (tackles on run plays within two yards of the line of scrimmage) on 326 defensive snaps so far this season. Less than a year ago, on Dec. 9, 2019, Sieler was claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens. A former seventh-round pick, Sieler is quintessential proof that it's not about how a player arrives, but what he does with his opportunity.
Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores discussed the traits synonymous with success in the league. He points out that every team only gets one first-round pick (without trading), and highlights the importance of finding players through different avenues.
"Is he tough? Is he smart? Does he love to play? Is he team first? Is he competitive," Flores asks rhetorically of what makes an NFL player successful. "If he has all those qualities, then you give yourself an opportunity to learn, develop and improve and eventually contribute. Sieler, whether it's his time in Baltimore or coming here, (Nik) Needham, (Andrew) Van Ginkel, those guys have all those characteristics. It allows them to get the most out of their ability and they've been able to play well. And they're still getting better."
Sieler, a seventh-round draft pick by Baltimore out of Ferris State in 2018, reflected on the last year of his life and the growth he's made as a player to arrive at this extension.
"The Dolphins, their coaching, and everyone who kind of gave me a chance to take my game to the next level," Sieler said. "Coach (Marion) Hobby, Coach (Austin) Clark, Coach K-Jack (Kenyon Jackson). They helped me grow my game and learn how to be effective."
"The organization is great from the top down," he explained. "To grow here and continue with this culture we're starting to build, I'm very happy to be a part of that."
Ogbah Stays Hot
Now tied for fourth in the NFL with eight sacks, and near the top of the leaderboard in other advanced metrics like quarterback pressures, batted passes and run stops, Emmanuel Ogbah talked about the trust developed between he and the coaching staff.
"The players, we're out there," Ogbah said. "So sometimes we see what the coaches don't see. I can make a note of what the tackle is giving me so I tell them I'm going to make this move and ask 'can you have somebody cover me?' They have trust in me to make that play. When I go out there and do what I said I'm going to do, that just helps the trust grow and get better."
A prime example of that trust goes back to the second snap of the game Sunday in the 29-21 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Ogbah crashed inside and dented the offensive line. Cornerback Nik Needham came clean on a blitz and executed the play by getting Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert to the ground.
Needham talked about that play and the impact of Ogbah on the entire defense.
"(Ogbah) gets a sack every week," Needham said. "On that play, they were probably more worried about him than me. I came off the edge and the running back had his eyes locked on Ogbah, so Herbert ran right up to me. He's a dominant force out there."
Need Him, Needham
Needham did more than just sack the quarterback. Entering Week 9, Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen was second in the NFL with 62 receptions. His primary position is inside -- where Needham typically resides.
Allen caught three passes for 36 yards on the day. He ended with just one catch for 11 yards on three targets when going up against Needham.
"Watching film every week, you can see Herbert was throwing to (Allen) on the go-to situations," Needham said. "In the game plan, we wanted to make sure we forced him to throw to other guys in the key situations."
Needham (an undrafted free agent in 2019), Sieler (claimed off waivers last December) and Ogbah (a free agent signing on this third team in five years), exemplify Flores' comments regarding finding talent from various sources.
Regardless of how a player arrives, the expectation is the same.
"We have a team full of guys who – football is important to them," Flores said. "Competing and communicating is important to them. They've bought into working together as a team in working hard and preparing. We've seen some good results from that and they continue to buy into those things."
Red Zone Success
The Dolphins have a red zone success rate of 80 percent the last two games (8-of-10). The two possessions that didn't finish in the end zone occurred when Miami was attempting the shorten the game late against the Chargers (two runs and an incomplete pass) and the earlier possession where a failed quarterback-center exchange resulted in a turnover.
One of the eight successful red zone possessions ended with a Durham Smythe touchdown reception, the second of the tight end's career. Smythe talked about the offense's red zone plan and the credit the staff deserves for scheming up wide open scores.
"That's a part of the field that we put a lot of emphasis on during the week, whether it's running the ball or play design that frees people up," Smythe said. "We've had plays in our game plan that frees people up. That's a reflection of the offensive staff and the game plans they're putting together in the red zone and us going out there and trying to execute."
Jordan Howard Waived
Flores opened his Monday press conference with the news of waiving running back Jordan Howard.
"We released Jordan Howard this morning," Flore said. "This was a mutual parting. Given the circumstances, Jordan handled himself professionally. He was a consummate pro. There were no issues. We just felt this was in the best interest of both parties. I have a lot of respect for the way he worked, no ill will or anything of that nature."