The Miami Dolphins loss to the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football was something that all Dolphins fans would like amnesia from, and left little to be viewed as positive. The offense sputtered out without four-fifths of the offensive line and Tyreek Hill. The defense was nowhere to be found at the end of the game, and play calling on both sides was questionable at best.
That leaves us trying to look for any silver linings, and it feels like a needle in a haystack. The obvious one is Raheem Mostert, who was consistent all night, nearly eclipsing the hundred-yard mark and two touchdowns, and would’ve done more damage if given more carries.
Outside of him, there was one more player who made an impact from start to finish, and that was our “Unsung Hero of the Week” middle linebacker David Long Jr.
Bulletin Board Material
If you know about Long Jr.’s background, you’d know he was jacked for a shot at his former team. Just in case you need a refresher, here’s what Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said about David Long Jr. in the offseason and David Long Jr.’s response to that.
“We look at soft tissue injuries. We look at those soft tissue injuries of repeat offenders. It doesn’t take too hard to look and see that Kristian Fulton and David Long were repeat offenders of soft tissue injuries,” said Vrabel at the time. “They have to figure out a way to train. The game is played at a high speed. Kevin Byard has not pulled a hamstring since we have been here. There is a durability factor to playing professional football that we should not overlook. That is real. There are guys that are durable and there are guys that are not.” - Mike Vrabel
“If you watch film since my rookie year to the end of this year, every play, I lay it out on the line, so that was a surprise to me. I feel like it kind of created a narrative a little bit as far as how I take care of my body. If you ask anybody, I’m a first one in and last guy out type of guy. So I know he knows that as well. It really just put a bigger chip (on my shoulder) because I know what type of player I am. That wasn’t discussed to me, as well. So it was a lot. I took it with a grain of salt. I’m not really much a media person like ‘why did you single me out or whatever.’ I’m going to roll with it and I’m just going to get back to work.” - David Long Jr.
David Long Jr. has been a professional about it all, but he had this game circled on his calendar, and he did not disappoint. Long Jr. led the team in tackles with eight and had two tackles for loss. He was making plays all over the field and was a big reason why the Dolphins only gave up thirteen points all the way up to the five-minute mark in the fourth quarter.
Not only was Long Jr. one of the best defenders on the field Monday, he’s also been the best run-stopping middle linebacker in the league this year, per Pro Football Focus. One of the more notable holes on Miami’s defense last year and the beginning of this year has been stopping the run game and overall tackling. Once Long Jr. got more snaps, the defense dramatically shifted from league average to one of the best in the NFL.
David Long Jr.: 92.5 run defense grade this season— PFF MIA Dolphins (@PFF_Dolphins) December 14, 2023
1st in the NFL pic.twitter.com/2JbCLh3FE4
Long Jr. has had a special year so far with the Miami Dolphins, and although the Dolphins didn’t beat the Titans for a plethora of reasons, David Long Jr. balled out against his former team. Mike Vrabel has a good poker face, and I’m sure more than happy with the result of the game, but he knows he slipped up letting Long Jr. go and left a fire burning under him.
David Long Jr. is your “Unsung Hero of the Week” for week 14, blossoming into one of the best middle linebackers in the league. Oh, and enjoy David Long Jr. being mic’d up against his former team.
Let us know in the comments if you agree with this week's selection or who also could’ve been the “Unsung Hero of the Week.”