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A Roller Coaster Of Emotions: Miami Dolphins 2023 Season in Review

By Eddie Lopez

Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel, right, reacts as General Manager Chris Grier speaks during the end-of-season news conference at Baptist Health Miami Dolphins training complex in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS)

The 2023 season was a strange one for the Miami Dolphins. From a 9-3 first in the division start to a 11-6 Wild Card spot finish, the season was a roller coaster.


This team was maybe the most talented Dolphins team since the Marino era including players like receiver Tyreek Hill, receiver Jaylen Waddle, rookie running back De’von Achane, superstar corner Jalen Ramsey and safety Jevon Holland. 


Rookie Of The Year: De’Von Achane 

Miami Dolphins running back De'Von Achane runs onto the field for his game against the New York Giants at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Florida. (John McCall/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS)

Miami has not seen a rookie running back play at the level that Achane was running at since 2017 rookie Jay Ajayi. He ran for 800 yards and eight touchdowns in just 11 games after missing some time with an injury. His explosive running ability allowed the offense to move the chains when the pass game was not working which is something the Dolphins have been looking for. 


MVP: Tyreek Hill

Miami Dolphins running back De'Von Achane runs onto the field for his game against the New York Giants at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Florida. (John McCall/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS)

Both Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek were neck and neck in the NFL MVP race for most of the season. Ultimately, Tyreek Hill showed that without the ball going through him, the Dolphins offense was nowhere near as dominant.  Tyreek finished with another impressive season in which he amassed a league-leading 1799 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. 


Offense: 

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) scrambles in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS)

The offense resembled the dominance of some of the “greatest show on turf” St. Louis Rams teams in the early 2000s with receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle both combining for over 2,500 yards and 17 touchdowns as well as the explosive backfield of Raheem Mostert and Devon Achane which also combined for 1812 yards. The offense led the league with an average of 401.3 Yards per game and were second in points per game behind the Dallas Cowboys. 


Defense: 

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) scrambles in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS)

The Dolphins Defense in its first year with Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio ranked 10th in total yards allowed and 22nd in total points allowed. This was Jalen Ramsey’s first season as a Dolphin in which he showed he is still a lockdown corner having three interceptions. The Defensive line was really the difference maker this year with Career years from Christian Wilkins, Andrew Van Ginkel, Zach Sieler, Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips. All of them had career-high sack numbers. 


Dolphins Defensive line getting it done in the pass rush.

Stats obtained via ESPN.com


What Happened? 

The helmet of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes breaks while being hit by Miami Dolphins safety DeShon Elliott on a run in the third quarter of the AFC Wild Card game Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Emily Curiel/The Kansas City Star/TNS)

Despite all of these amazing feats and impressive stats, the Dolphins produced the same result that Dolphins fans have been receiving for over 23 years. Nothing. They were eliminated once again in the first round with a 26-7 loss to the Chiefs.  One of the biggest problems this season, which is a recurring one, was injuries. Jaelan Phillips, Bradley Chubb, Andrew Van Ginkel and Xavien Howard all went down with an injury heading into the toughest stretch of the season. The already struggling secondary now had to rely on replacements such as Duke Riley, Ethan Bonner and Eli Apple to try and win the last three games of the season. 


Another problem was consistency. A great example of this is in week three, when the Dolphins scored 70 points and won by a margin of 50, the most in Dolphins history. The very next week they lost to Buffalo by 28 points. The Dolphins record vs winning teams was 1-5 this season and part of the problem was Tyreek Hill’s 12 drops and Tua’s subpar performance in the 4th quarter of big games. In 17 games, he recorded just four touchdowns and three interceptions in the fourth quarter and led the Dolphins on just two game-winning drives. 


What’s Next? 

Miami’s top priority right now is to bring back Christian Wilkins who showed he is a great leader and can play at a very high level. Besides Wilkins, Miami also has to make a decision to bring back key players like Jerome Baker, Connor Williams, Andrew Van Ginkel and Robert Hunt. 


Coach Mike McDaniel Had this to say when asked about the Wilkins and Williams contracts.

"Like we've always talked here in the past, our goal is to keep as many good players here as we can. They've both earned the right to be free agents." Via Dolphins Official Transcript

The Dolphins have expressed that they have no intent of moving on from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa despite all of the heat that he has taken in the past.


“... we wouldn't talk throughout the season in terms of contract stuff, but we've stayed in touch with his agent and had good conversations throughout the year. We never talk about money or anything, just good conversations about where he is and the relationship with (head coach) Mike (McDaniel) and the team here and everything he's done. So the goal is to have him here long-term playing at a high level. That's always the goal and we'll continue to communicate with him through the offseason here. Like we've always said in the past, you guys know me, we don't really talk in the media through all that stuff, so we'll just keep all those talks internal and with his reps." Grier told reporters via the Dolphin’s official transcript. 
Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross talks with general manager Chris Grier at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Jan. 9, 2022. (John McCall/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS)

On Jan. 24, the Dolphins released a statement stating that they had mutually parted ways with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

For now, the Dolphins get the much-needed rest and recovery for the many players that were on the injured list and look to change the narrative in 2024.


Now, NFL fans look to Feb. 11, a Super Bowl rematch between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers.



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