The top five Miami Dolphins players should be the backbone of the team’s future.
5. Kyle Van Noy: 69 Tackles, 46 solo, 6 sacks, 6 PDs, 2 FF, 2 FR
Signed in the offseason from the New England Patriots, Van Noy came with a winning pedigree and high expectations to duplicate his success in Miami. Van Noy didn’t really disappoint.
Sure, there were a few plays here and there where Van Noy didn’t do his job, resulting in big offensive plays. Yet, for the most part, Van Noy was consistent in his high level of play and elevated a lot of the players around him, which is more important than any stat you can keep track of throughout the season.
Van Noy looked comfortable in Brian Flores’ system once again and really thrived, leading to potentially good things throughout the rest of his time as a Miami Dolphin.
4. Jason Sanders: 36 for 36 XP, 36 for 39 FG
For the better part of the season (and arguably right up until the end of the season), Jason Sanders was the best kicker in football.
Sanders made every kick (literally all of them) from the goal line to the 39-yard line and only missed three kicks (2 from the 40-49 range and one from 50+) all season. He even set a new career-best with a 56 yarder during the season. His percentage was an outstanding 92.3% on the year, which puts him in the top 10 among all kickers in the league. He also had one of the better percentages from 50+, which was invaluable for a team that struggled to generate consistent offense.
The Dolphins found a gem in a 7th round kicker a few years ago and his performance on the year should earn him an All-Pro nod.
3. Jerome Baker: 112 Tackles, 70 solo, 7 sacks, 3 PDs, 2 FF
Baker has had a bit of a hot and cold career with Miami. There are sometimes when he looks like the answer at linebacker and sometimes where he looks out of place and position. Over the course of the whole season, however, Baker was Miami’s most consistent linebacker.
Baker accumulated the majority of his sack numbers in the second half of the season off of delayed blitzes, but those plays were game-changing nonetheless. His sack numbers were second on the team and his 112 tackles were first.
Baker has always been an athletic linebacker who generally does well in coverage and it seems that he flourished in his second year in Brian Flores’ defensive system.
2. Emmanuel Ogbah: 42 Tackles, 25 solo, 9 sacks, 5 PDs, 3 FF
Ogbah was a revelation for this Miami Dolphins defense and may have been the most underrated signing of the free agency period last year. Ogbah started a bit slow, as did most of this defensive unit, but put together a respectable season.
He registered 9 sacks over the course of the year, which was the best on the team. He did a good job pressuring the passer all season, as well, even though the numbers don’t represent it. It’s a shame he didn’t make it to the double-digit sack number, but his play this season was far better than it was over the course of his career.
1. Xavien Howard: 51 Tackles, 40 solo, 20 PD, 1 FF, 10 INTs
Xavien Howard was, by far, the most consistent and dominant player on this team throughout the 2020 season. When he wasn’t intercepting opposing quarterbacks, he was consistently shutting down their receiving options, putting together a resume that was Defensive Player of the Year worthy.
Howard struggled in the first part of the year, giving up a few big plays in Miami’s first three games but really rebounded to put together one of the better seasons at cornerback over the past few years. Howard was Miami’s only Pro-Bowler and should easily get an All-Pro nod this season as well.
It’s impossible to tell what Howard’s future with the team will be, but, at least as of now, he’s the best player on the roster.