The Miami Dolphins’ bye fell on the week before Thanksgiving. So, better late than never, I present a culinary quest to determine which aspects of the 2022 Dolphins line up with the savory selections of John Madden’s favorite holiday.
Chef: Mike McDaniel
In only his first season as the Dolphins’ head coach, Mike McDaniel (seen here promoting an alternative option to the traditional Thanksgiving centerpiece) has brought the Fins Family together like it hasn’t been since the first settlers sailed to America on the Titanic and introduced Big Macs to the Aztecs (citation needed).
McDaniel has proven to be our collective doting grandmother, preparing a fabulous feast whilst keeping all of the cousins from coming to blows over who is, in fact, the most homewrecking of hillbillies.
He’s shown improvement in areas where he faltered early in the season like in-game clock management and playcalling. This past Sunday against the woeful Houston Texans, he even called a pass play on 4th and 1, which worked like a charm. McDaniel has displayed versatility, humility, and ability on his way to taking the Dolphins to the postseason and (hopefully) beyond.
Turducken: the Explosive Offense
The spine of Chef McDaniel’s smorgasbord is Miami’s monumental monster of an offense. Led by Tua Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill, and Jaylen Waddle (with a little Jeff Wilson sprinkled in there, to taste), the offense is just like the mythical turducken: one half speed, one half power, and one half probably more speed I guess.
Tua put up 299 yards on 22/36 (61%) completions with 1 TD and 0 INT before being pulled near the end of the 3rd quarter (for safety during a blowout, which is an extremely un-Dolphins reason to see a QB leave). Hill grabbed six recs for 85 yds, while Waddle matched his yardage total at 85 on five catches. While the run game failed to get going (Wilson finished with 39 yards on 13 carries with 1 TD) against a terrible Texans run defense, it’s almost an edge case not worth worrying about. Houston is really really bad this year, and coming off of a bye, it’s understandable for the offense to focus its game plan on getting back into a rhythm throwing the ball as they head into a tougher stretch of games. Hopefully, the rushing attack gets back on schedule next week, but even without it, the offense was efficient enough to flip Houston’s dinner table.
Stuffing: Adequate (so far) Depth
Ahh, the glue that holds it all together. The stuffing in this gathering of grub is the Dolphins’ depth. It’s no family secret that Miami has been hit hard with injuries this season. Despite how he may have fared this week, Brandon Shell held it together in Austin Jackson’s absence on the offensive line, while young secondary players like Kader Kohou and Keion Crossen have stepped up on defense.
With word that Terron Armstead suffered a pectoral injury against the Texans, the Dolphins will need even more help from their extended family members in keeping the level of play up to the new lofty standards. Historically the offensive line has trouble staying solid (if even functional) when one of its anchors goes down, so here’s to hoping that they can buck that trend for the remainder of the year if Armstead is out for any length of time.
Injuries are a fact of life for all NFL teams, and more often than not, it’s how the players who are asked to fill in perform that dictates the success of teams down the stretch. Miami will need to keep getting the most out of its depth players to put the cranberries on top of this succulent season.
Booze: Maintaining Momentum
What happens when you’ve had two full plates of food, your stomach is filled to bursting, but you can still see plenty sitting out for the taking? Do you think “That just means more for the rest of the weekend” or do you say to yourself “LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND.” and look for a way to house the rest of what lies before you?
If you’re a true gravy-blooded American, you take door number two. But how? Easy. Grab the nearest bottle of booze and start a-chuggin. Once you get far enough down the label, your body will stop alerting you properly, and you’ll be ready to maintain your munching momentum straight through to the finish line.
The Dolphins could have come out against a 1-8-1 Texans team and played down, barely eeking out a win and stressing the fan base to no end. Some might argue that the second-half defense, Terron-Armstead-less offensive line, and Skylar-Thompson-led offense all sort of did that a bit. Nonetheless, Miami managed to get out in front of Houston 30-0 before any of that nonsense took place, and watching a Dolphins team soundly beat a team it should soundly beat is a welcome sight. Maintaining their momentum after the bye week was a big step in assuring that they enter the back half of the season ready to keep on keepin’ on.
Dessert: The Future
The Fins currently sit atop the AFC East and are the second place seed in the entire AFC. With six more games to go, they’re nearly guaranteed to make the postseason barring an epic collapse. The remaining games are against SF, LAC, BUF, GB, NE, and NYJ. While each of those games could be potential losses for Miami (as with nearly any NFL game), they feel more likely to be won than they have for nearly as long as I can remember.
The future has almost never looked so full of pumpkin and pecan pies, cookies, cake, ice cream, and any other dessert you can gorf down your gullet under the guise of it being a holiday (e.g. a gallon of pudding, thankyouverymuch). Of course, nothing is over until it’s over, but I’m riding onto the remainder of the road, jammed to my giblets with hope and ready for the Dolphins to give us even more to be thankful for.
Did you try to deep fry a turkey and cause an international incident? Yeah, you did. No point in lying about it. Join the support group in the comments.