The Miami Dolphins were kicked in the teeth in Week 7, the second time in 2023 that has happened to the team. In Week 4, the Buffalo Bills smacked Miami 48-20 knocking the Dolphins from the ranks of the unbeaten. In Week 7, the Philadelphia Eagles beat down the Dolphins 31-17, setting up the argument that Miami’s 5-2 record is a fraud. Miami’s wins over the Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, New York Giants, and Carolina Panthers give them five wins over teams with a combined 8-25 record.
Their two losses came against teams who are currently 10-4 combined. There seems to be a desire to declare the Dolphins and their threat in the AFC as dead. They are a fraudulent team who are only winning against weaker opponents and cannot stand up to the tougher teams in the league.
And that brings us back to the horror show that is set to be unleashed on the NFL.
Every horror movie has a moment where the threat seems to have been eliminated, only for them to rise like The Undertaker getting off the mat. Welcome to the Miami Dolphins having been knocked down, written off, and declared frauds. Now watch what happens when they rise.
The Dolphins have been a team beset with injuries this season. Players who were injured last year, like cornerback Nik Needham, early in training camp, such as cornerback Jalen Ramsey, or were in-season injuries, like running backs Jeff Wilson, Jr., and De’Von Achane, have all been on the sidelines with various ailments. Now, the Dolphins are starting to see these in-season reinforcements return.
NFL teams are allowed to return eight players from injured reserve during the season. They do not have to designate which eight players will use those slots until the individual players are ready to begin practicing. Once the players return to practice, the team has 21 days to bring them to the active, 53-man roster or shut them down for the remainder of the season and lose one of the designated for return slots.
Miami’s injured reserve list in 2023 has included Achane, offensive tackle Terron Armstead, running back Chris Brooks, wide receiver River Cracraft, defensive back Keion Crossen, guard Robert Jones, Ramsey, linebacker Zeke Vandenburgh, Wilson, and guard Isaiah Wynn. Wide receiver Erik Ezukanma is on the non-football injury list, but if he were to be activated, he would count against the eight-return limit as well.
Jones and Wilson have been activated off IR and brought to the 53-man roster. Ramsey had his 21-day practice window open last week and the Dolphins opened Cracraft’s window on Wednesday. With those four moves, Miami has used half of their allotment for the season. Armstead, who will be eligible to begin practicing and return after this weekend’s game, and Achane, who can return after the team’s Week 9 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, will both likely be designated for return as well.
Miami has their bye week in Week 10, creating a possibility that the team keeps players on IR beyond the minimum four games they have to miss to give them an extra week of recovery time.
Needham, who started the season on the physically unable-to-perform list, has also been activated. His activation does not count against the eight-player IR return limit.
It seems likely Miami will sit on their two remaining return designation slots at least for the next several weeks. Wynn, who would be eligible to return after Week 12, feels like someone the team would like to bring back, but the team may have to see how the offensive line is playing before making that decision and using another slot. Brooks, Crossen, Ezukanma, and Vandenburgh could all be forced to miss the rest of the year so Miami does not run out of their IR-return allocations, then have an injury to another player and either be forced to keep him on the active roster or place him on IR and lose him for the season.
The Dolphins’ reinforcements have started to arrive. Wilson and Jones are back providing depth at running back and guard, respectively. Needham will ramp up and could find himself working as the team’s primary cornerback opposite Xavien Howard until Ramsey is ready, or he could slide inside to nickel cornerback, leaving Kader Kohou and Eli Apple outside opposite Howard.
Ramsey is nearing his Dolphins debut, something that could happen as early as this week despite the initial prognosis of a December return. Cracraft could be back on the field soon as well. Armstead and Achane would seem to be waiting for their eligibility to arrive once they have missed four games, and then they could be on their way back as well.
Miami may have been knocked down by the Eagles, but they seem set to surprise everyone as they rise. The 2023 Dolphins storyline does feel like it is going to go from a scary movie for the rest of the league to a full horror movie.