Every team has a player they feel is irreplaceable. Without that player, the team’s odds of winning drops tremendously. Much like in the game of “Jenga”, where players take turns removing one block from a tower of 54 stacked blocks. As each block is removed, the odds of that structure falling increase tremendously. Much like in the NFL, where if one of the team’s truly elite players is lost due to injury or suspension, that team’s odds of success diminishes.
Last year, we all saw what happened when Miami’s franchise quarterback, Ryan Tannehill was lost for the remainder of the season. Perhaps many believed without him, the team wouldn’t be able to continue down their path of success. However, Matt Moore stepped in and played tremendously. He did things many of us weren’t sure if he was still was capable of. Yes, Ryan Tannehill is better than Moore, but the difference between the two in 2016 was minuscule. ( I do think Miami would’ve done much better with Tannehill in the playoffs tbqh)
In 2016, Jay Ajayi was the heart and soul of the offense. Despite an ever revolving offensive line, he still managed to find success and was able to keep Adam Gase’s offense afloat. He was the Dolphins’ offensive “Jenga Piece ” last season, but was he the team’s most irreplaceable player? I’d say no, and give that honor to Reshad Jones. Without Jones in Miami’s secondary, the unit as a whole took a significant drop statistically. His presence which is often felt in the run game, allowed team’s to run at will on Miami’s bottom-5 run defense. Miami was never able to recover from losing Jones early in the year and with him healthy in 2017, Matt Burke’s defense should make tremendous strides in 2017.
With all that said, here are three irreplaceable players for the 2017 Miami Dolphins.
Although stats don’t tell the story of what Ndamukong Suh brings to the Dolphins’ defense, he’s absolutely the team’s most valuable player up front. He continuously draws double teams, and allows the player’s around him to match up favorably vs the opposition. He’s one of the best run-stopping defensive tackles in the NFL and without him, Miami’s defense would fall greatly. Would Jordan Phillips or one of the newly signed rookies have the same impact as Suh? Not a chance. Remove Suh from the 2017 Miami Dolphins, and the entire defense falls mercifully, like a ton of Jenga Blocks.
As previously stated, Miami’s defense drops tremendously when Reshad Jones isn’t in the starting lineup. He’s a natural leader that continuously makes plays in both the run and passing game. Often times, he drops down in the box and plays the role of an additional linebacker to better stop the run. In addition, what he does pre-snap to set the defense up is often overlooked. He puts his guys in position to succeed on every play. That’s the kind of stuff that went unnoticed when Jones went down in 2016. Yes, he’s a hard-hitting playmaker that can make a difference every play. But what he brings to the team as a leader and the “quarterback of the defense” makes him one of the Dolphins’ most valuable Jenga Pieces. Without him, the entire stack of blocks will fall to the ground.
This for me is the Dolphins’ most irreplaceable player in 2017. Yes, I know some have their doubts that Ajayi is the real deal and like to point to his three 200-yard games as reason his stats were inflated last season. However, all it takes is two eyes to see the talent oozing out of J-Train. He’s a player that can run you and your friends over, and then outrun you 50 yards for a touchdown. He runs like his hair is on fire, or that it might be the last time he every rushes the football. I do believe there’s a role on this offense for Kenyan Drake and Damian Williams, but the drop off in talent is substantial. Miami’s offense might be better suited to throw the football, given the talent on the outside. However, Gase showed last season that this team plays it’s best football when feeding the rock to Ajayi. He is the heart and soul of the offense, and without him team’s will not fear the run game. This makes him, in my opinion, the Dolphins’ most important “Jenga Piece” in 2017
Who do you think is the Dolphins’ most irreplaceable player in 2017?
This article was written by Josh Houtz. Follow him on Twitter!