The Miami Dolphins enter their bye week with a record of 7-3 — winners of their last four games. It has been quite the run for this team and they now sit atop the AFC East standings, just ahead of the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills.
Since the season is over halfway gone, we at The Phinsider conducted an internal poll to determine who the winners of our midseason awards would be if the season ended today.
Who took home the imaginary hardware? Let’s find out!
MVP - Tua Tagovailoa
After his first two seasons, many people, fans and national media members alike, wrote Tua Tagovailoa off as a starting quarterback in the National Football League. They said that any mention of the things working against him (serious hip injury his final year in college, no training camp his rookie year due to COVID-19, an abysmal offensive line, a coach who didn’t support him, etc.) were just excuses that should be ignored. Well, you can now look those doubters directly in their faces and tell them they were wrong... dead wrong. Tua Tagovailoa currently sits atop so many quarterback metrics through ten games this season that I couldn’t possibly list them all right here. So, instead, I’ll let the Dolphins fans from Miami’s game against the Cleveland Browns do the talking for me. “MVP, MVP, MVP!” We have found our franchise QB, folks.
Offensive Player of the Year - Tyreek Hill
Trading for Tyreek Hill was the biggest move of the offseason. The Dolphins gave up a first-rounder, a second-rounder, two-fourths, and a sixth to bring Hill to Miami. After completing the trade they signed Hill to a 4 year $120 million dollar contract extension-making him the highest-paid receiver (and offensive player, excluding QBs) in the NFL. A lot of fans wondered how any non-quarterback could play up to such a contract and Dolphins fans have seen enough failed big-ticket additions to feel a touch queasy. Against all odds, Hill has managed to outplay his contract to this point and solidify his status as the most dangerous weapon in the NFL. He has posted career highs in Y/RR (yards per route run), yards per game, and receptions per game. He leads the NFL in receptions, total yards, catches of 20+ yards, and receptions that result in a 1st down. He has become the focal point of this offense and has helped to transform Tua Tagovailoa and this passing attack. He has a real shot at breaking the record for receiving yards in a single season and has somehow turned into a bargain at $30 million APY for the life of his contract. Franchise-altering addition and an easy decision for OPOY.
Defensive Player of the Year - Jaelan Phillips
When the Dolphins selected EDGE Jaelan Phillips with the 18th-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, many fans were upset with Miami’s decision to select a pass-rusher over a running back or another skill position player. However, two years later, it looks like the Dolphins may have gotten things right! Phillips has improved in 2022 and is starting to take his game to new heights in his second season with Miami. In the offseason, Phillips talked about becoming a more rounded player, able to play all three downs in the National Football League. Ten games into his sophomore season, that is what we’re seeing from the 23-year-old pass-rusher. Phillips has combined for 30 total tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2022. Most impressive, however, is not his sacks but his ability to consistently get pressure on the quarterback. Additionally, against the run — an area where he struggled as a rookie and during his collegiate career — he has improved dramatically. He’s quickly become one of the league’s best EDGE defenders, ranking 8th in the NFL according to ESPN’s run-stop win rate. He’s also currently ranked 10th in pass-rush win rate. Other players may have been worthy of DPOY. Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins came in a close second, and Darth Kader deserves his flowers but heading into Miami’s BYE week, only one player on the defensive side of the football deserves to be DPOY. His name is Jaelan Phillips, and his best football is yet to come.
Game of the Year - Week Two at Baltimore Ravens
Some will say Miami’s win over Buffalo might be the most important game of the season when all is said and done this year, but there can be little doubt that the thrilling comeback at Baltimore back in week two was the game of the year so far for Miami. Down 35-14 with under 13 minutes left, the Dolphins engineered one of the most impressive comebacks in recent NFL history. Back-to-back touchdown bombs to Tyreek Hill tied the game at 35. Then, after a Justin Tucker field goal gave the Ravens the lead once more, Tua Tagovailoa engineered a 6-play, 68-yard drive for the win, finding Jaylen Waddle in the end zone with just 14 seconds left. For Tua, it was a performance for the ages. 469 passing yards (his first 400+ yard passing game) and 6 touchdowns, which put his name in the Dolphins’ record books with Bob Griese and Dan Marino. It was an all-around unforgettable day in Baltimore for Miami fans.
Play of the Year - Tua Tagovailoa launches a 60-yard TD bomb to Tyreek Hill to tie the game against the Baltimore Ravens
Heading into the season, the biggest questions surrounding Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa were obvious: Can he throw the deep ball at a high level, and can he get the best out of Tyreek Hill? It’s safe to say that both of those questions were answered with a resounding ‘YES’ in Week 2 of this season.
Down seven points against the Baltimore Ravens, the Dolphins faced 3rd-and-6 at their own 40-yard-line with 5:27 left in the 4th quarter. On what Mike McDaniel calls the “F— it” play, Tua threw an absolute peach of a ball to Tyreek Hill down the left sideline, perfectly hitting Hill in stride as he raced his way 60 yards into the end zone, capping off a 21-point comeback for the Dolphins.
It’s a play that shifted the entire game in Miami’s favor, and maybe even the season. If the Dolphins manage to go on and do something special this season, that will be the play that people look back upon and go, “That’s where it started.” For those reasons, the 2022 Phinsider Midseason Award for Play of the Year goes to Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill for their part in a 60-yard catch-and-run touchdown that may have changed the course of Miami’s season.
Newcomer of the Year - Mike McDaniel
McDaniel earned this award for several reasons. One, he seems to have given this team a sense of direction and hope that we have not seen around our Miami Dolphins very often over the last couple of decades. Two, he truly is a savant, as many claimed, when it comes to football, especially on the offensive side of the ball, resulting in an offense that Dolphins fans have not seen the likes of since the great Dan Marino was our quarterback. Three, perhaps the most important thing that McDaniel has done for this team was to come in and re-instill a level of confidence in Tua Tagovailoa that we have not seen from him since his days at Alabama, with amazing results. Thank you, Mr. McDaniel, for giving us long-suffering Dolphins fans hope once again!