Sunday’s win over the New York Jets was exactly the type of confidence boost the Miami Dolphins needed. Not only were the Dolphins coming off an embarrassing late-game collapse on the prime-time stage of Monday Night Football, but their biggest question of the year needed an answer.
That question is, could the offense get it done without superstar receiver Tyreek Hill? The Dolphins didn’t just answer that question. They made a statement ending with an exclamation. The Miami Dolphins put up 27 points in the first three quarters before the starters got pulled, and most of it was on the back of the I don’t want to say lost, but maybe misplaced connection between quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and star receiver Jaylen Waddle.
That’s no small feat. The Jets have a top-ranked defense, especially against the pass. The Dolphins controlled the tempo on offense, and the defense was dominant from start to finish. Bradley Chubb will be in Zach Wilson’s nightmares for the next few weeks, and he put up numbers with three sacks and two forced fumbles, recovering one himself. Christian Wilkins, Zach Sieler, Andrew Van Ginkel, and Emmanuel Ogbah all got in on the sack party. The secondary was all over the place with Jalen Ramsey’s and Eli Apple’s pass breakups and Brandon coming up with two interceptions with five tackles.
I want all of them to get their flowers first because the “Unsung Hero of the Week” didn’t have a dominant game or put up numbers. The “Unsung Hero of the Week” played through injury and gave all he could to keep the offensive line stable, and that man is the walking boot man, Liam Eichenberg.
I know we’re going in a bit of a different direction with this week’s recipient, but Liam Eichenberg needed to be in the lineup. The Dolphins lost their All-Pro level center Connor Williams last week, and he’s gone for the rest of the year. Eichenberg is the backup center and has been below average to be nice about it. The snaps between Eichenberg and Tua haven’t been great either, but they’ve been putting in the work to fix that.
On top of being new to center and trying to establish himself as an NFL-caliber player, Eichenberg was also nursing a calf injury all week leading up to the Jets game. His status was in question all week with DNP’s on Wednesday and Thursday mixed with a light practice on Friday. Eichenberg was also seen in a walking boot all week.
In response, the Dolphins had backup guard Lester Cotton taking snaps and signed Jonotthan Harrison, who hasn’t taken a snap since 2019, and Matt Skura to the practice squad. Neither guy has any experience with the system, and Harrison had a real shot of playing. All signs pointed to Eichenberg being inactive, but that boy Liam said, nooooo sir!
On Liam Eichenberg's effort Sunday:— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) December 20, 2023
Liam’s performance when the team absolutely needed it… he wasn’t saying “I’m going to try to go,” he was telling everyone he was going to go.
“Liam Eichenberg is the first guy that I gave a game ball to because he willed his way to make sure he was the starting center,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said.— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) December 17, 2023
Put some respect on the Eichenberg Express.
Eichenberg sucked it up, blocked out all the pain, and suited up. You could tell he wasn’t at full strength, but he gutted it out and did everything he could while matched up with All-Pro Quinnen Williams, and that’s a tough task perfectly healthy.
If my memory serves me right, there were no bad snaps, and outside of the one sack Quinnen Williams had, he was held in check. He also gave Quinton Jefferson enough problems to get him heated after plays.
Somehow Quinton Jefferson hates Liam Eichenberg even more than the average Dolphins fan. pic.twitter.com/DE8YoI8n2f— Chris Kouffman (@ckparrot) November 24, 2023
Granted the offensive gameplan was designed to alleviate pressure off of the offensive line, but it could’ve been a whole lot worse with a guy who’s coming off the couch that’s been out of the NFL for four years, and only been in the system for less than week in the middle of the offense calling protections and trying to block Quinnen Williams.
It probably would’ve been a disaster, but that’s a hypothetical scenario that Dolphins fans don’t have to worry about because Liam Eichenberg ripped that walking boot off, played the best he could, and strapped that walking boot right back on in the locker room. I’ve gained more respect for Eichenberg for putting it all on the line, and he’s more than deserving of being your week 15 “Unsung Hero of the Week.”
Let us know in the comments how you feel about Liam Eichenberg’s performance.