Four games into a 16 game season means the Miami Dolphins have officially reached the quarter mark of the year. While the team has been up and down so far, heading into their bye week with a 2-2 record, the club sits in a three-way-tie for the Division lead, and are coming off their best team-performance of the year.
Who deserves the team awards for this year - after four games, of course? We hand them out, and let you debate, below.
Lamar Miller, running back - Perhaps a surprise pick here as the team MVP, but Miller has been spectacular for Miami recently, and is deserving of this consideration. He is second in the NFL with a 5.7 yards per carry average, a tenth of a yard behind Justin Forsett for the league lead. He's found the endzone twice on the ground, tied for 10th in the league, three behind DeMarco Murray for the top spot in the NFL. He has another score through the air, and has caught 12 passes this year, nearly half of his 26 receptions in 2013. Knowshon Moreno's injury opened the door to Miller being the workhorse instead of a shared backfield, and Miller has performed exactly as he needs to in that situation.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Tannehill, K
Offensive Player of the Year
Mike Wallace, wide receiver - The "one-trick-pony" has a few more tricks up his sleeve this year. A lot of people do not pay attention to Wallace unless he is on the receiving end of a 40-plus yard touchdown, and, as we all know, those are few-and-far between in Miami. Yet Wallace is stil leading the team with 20 receptions, 34 targets, 246 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 catches of 20-plus yards, and 13 first downs. He has become an all-around wide receiver, who actually is playing with an attitude lately, and it is making him a better player. Wallace still is not someone who will go up and fight for a ball in the air, and he tends to catch with his body more than with his hands, but, once he has the ball, he is running through, over, and around players much more this season than at any time last season.
Honorable Mention: Lamar Miller, Ryan Tannehill
Defensive Player of the Year
Jelani Jenkins, linebacker - Thrust into the starting lineup with injuries to Koa Misi, Dannell Ellerbe, and Philip Wheeler, question marks of whether or not Jenkins, who always had potential but is just in his second season after being a fourth round selection by Miami last year, was ready to take on a major role lingered. Jenkins crushed any of those questions through the first four games, leading the team with 38 tackles (pace for 152 and tied for sixth in the league heading into Week 5) and in fourth on the team with 1.5 sacks, just half a sack behind the leaders Olivier Vernon, Cameron Wake, and Derrick Shelby.
Honorable Mention: Jason Trusnik, Earl Mitchell
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Ja'Wuan James, offensive tackle - Awards typically go to the players who put up the flashy stats, but in this case, it is the rookie who is not accumulating stats that gets the nod. James, who has been the starting right tackle for the Dolphins since they drafted him in the first round back in May, has allowed only seven hurries, three hits, and a sack, according to Pro Football Focus' numbers. He ranks as the 20th offensive tackle in the game, and 9th right tackle, according to PFF. James has been exactly what the Dolphins needed on the right side of their offensive line.
Honorable Mention: Jarvis Landry
Defensve Rookie of the Year
Walt Aikens, safety - Drafted in the fourth round this year as a cornerback, during the offseason, Miami transitioned Aikens to serving more as a reserve safety, especially with the suspension to Reshad Jones. Aikens has flourished in that role, and is playing well whenever he is on the field. He may not be a dominant player yet, but his three tackles and an interception have him ahead of most of the defensive rookies at this point.
Honorable Mention: Chris McCain, Terrence Fede, Anthony Johnson
Comeback Player of the Year
Daniel Thomas, running back - This will likely change by the end of the year, with Mike Pouncey and Knowshon Morneo returning at some point, but Thomas was released by the team in the preseason, and was not picked up by anyone. He then was re-signed by Miami two weeks into the season after Moreno dislocated his elbow (there were reports that multiple teams contacted Thomas at the same time as Miami, but he chose to return to the Dolphins), and he has come back strong. Thomas has seven carries for 50 yards in his first two games back with the Dolphins, giving him an average of 7.1 yards per carry. It's a small sample size, but he is doing more than anyone could have anticipated at this point. He may not be getting a ton of carries, but he is taking what he gets and doing something with it. He is also helping in pass protection, which is a big reason why Miami looked to bring him back. Thomas has done well in half the number of games as most of the other players.
Honorable Mention: Brandon Gibson, Samson Satele
Moment of the Year
Second half vs New England Patriots - An entire half may be more than a "moment" but the Dolphins were able to come back from a 20-10 deficit at halftime in their Week 1 contest against the Patriots to win 33-20. The second half was so dominant that Miami outgained New England 222-67 yards in just the second 30 minutes - and 37 of New England's yards came on their last drive, before they turned over the ball on downs. Miami destroyed the team everyone picked to win the AFC East in the second half, a half worthy of the "moment" tag.
Road Performance of the Year
vs Oakland Raiders in London - Is there any other choice at this point? Miami has two road games on the season, getting beat down by the Buffalo Bills or demolishing the Raiders in London. The 38-14 victory in Wembley Stadium clearly takes the top position between those two. The Dolphins simply dominated the Raiders throughout the entire game,