The Miami Dolphins are finally starting to see some returns from their younger players. The team beat the Baltimore Ravens in a game highlighted by the youngest members of the Dolphins' roster, and it should be a good sign for the future of the Dolphins.
There are currently 31 players 25-years of age or younger on Miami's 53-man roster. That does not include eight players on the practice squad who are 25 or younger, and it does not include Dion Jordan, who is 25 but is suspended for the year. Miami had under-25 players Jamar Taylor, Chris McCain, Ulrick John, and Ja'Wuan James all inactive for the game, largely due to injury.
The Dolphins saw players like Olivier Vernon, Michael Thomas, Billy Turner, Dion Sims, Lamar Miller, Walt Aikens, Damien Williams, Kenny Stills, Jordan Phillips, Jarvis Landry, Jelani Jenkins, Matt Darr, DeVante Parker, Bobby McCain, Neville Hewitt, Andrew Franks, and Jay Ajayi all contribute to the win, all of whom are 25 or younger, with Parker, Bobby McCain, Franks, and Ajayi all just 22 years old.
Some of those players were contributors, playing important roles, but perhaps not starring in the game. Thomas had six tackles on defense, plus one on special teams. Sims caught one pass on two targets for four yards. Aikens recorded a tackle on special teams. Williams ran the ball one time for one yard, had a reception for five yards, and returned to kickoffs for a 21 yard average. Stills was targeted one time in the passing game. Hewitt played 21 percent of the defensive snaps and 75 percent of the special teams plays.
Then, there was a collection of players who had key plays, roles, and performances. Turner started at guard and played every offensive snap. Vernon recorded 6 tackles for the game with 2.5 sacks and four quarterback hits. Miller carried the ball 20 times for 113 yards. Phillips recorded four tackles, with a quarterback hit, and a pass deflection, which resulted in the interception by Reshad Jones. Landry caught two passes on five targets for five yards. Jenkins recorded seven tackles and one pass defense. Darr punted nine times with a 45.8 yard per kick average and two inside the 20. Parker caught three passes on five targets, gaining 63 yards, including a 38 yard touchdown. Bobby McCain recorded seven tackles with one pass defense. Franks was 2-for-2 on extra points (not counting the missed extra point, blocked extra point, two-point conversion oddity that happened in the game) and put all three kickoffs into the endzone, two of which were touchbacks. Ajayi added four carries for 12 yards
There is no denying that Miami has to find a way to fix their offense and solidify their defense. One offensive touchdown, and only on a possession that started in Baltimore territory and consisted of one play with a bomb from quarterback Ryan Tannehill to Parker, is not good enough to win most games in the NFL. The passing game struggled to find rhythm the entire game, and it was ugly at times.
The good news is that Miami seems to have a crop of young players starting to come into their own late in this season. Assuming that development continues over the last four games of the year and into next season, the Dolphins could have a solid nucleus of young talent around which to build.