The 2023 Miami Dolphins have been quite the show on offense. Tyreek Hill has long surpassed 1,000 yards receiving, Raheem Mostert is 34 yards away from 1,000 yards rushing, and Jaylen Waddle is 36 yards away from 1,000 yards receiving. This has never been done in the NFL; 3 players with over 1,000 yards on offense.
Yet, it’s the Miami Dolphins defense that has quietly worked its way up the defensive rankings as the year has progressed. After their Week 15 drubbing of the New York Jets, the Miami defense moved to 2nd best in the NFL in overall defense.
According to Pro Football Focus, Miami’s defense ranks 4th in pass rush, 2nd in run defense, and 6th in coverage defense. Much has been written about Jalen Ramsey and his effect on the Dolphins defense.
As the season winds down two more players are having positive impacts for this Dolphins team. Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler are leading this new Vic Fangio defense up front.
Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler both came to the Dolphins in 2019. Wilkins was the 13th overall pick of the Dolphins and Sieler was claimed off waivers from Baltimore. 2019, was nothing like 2023 for this dynamic duo. That year, Miami finished 32nd in pass rush, 32nd in overall defense, and 26th in rush defense.
Miami’s interior defense has improved each year since the arrival of this dynamic duo. The 2020 season saw almost immediate improvement. Miami improved to 15th in overall defense, 14th in pass rush, and 13th in rush defense. Fast forward to 2022, Miami finished 4th in pass rush, 4th in rush defense, and 17th overall.
Now Salt N’ Pepa, as they like to call themselves, are closing in on another milestone for this defense. Wilkins and Sieler are looking to be the first defensive tackle duo to each have 10 plus sacks. The emphasis is on the defensive tackle position.
There have been several instances of teammates getting at least 10 plus sacks each for the season. Philadelphia made history last year by being the first team in NFL history to have 4 players with 10 plus sacks each.
Jaelan Philips and Bradley Chubb each had 10 sacks last season for Miami. Both players play on the edge. In Miami’s history, having 2 teammates with at least 10 sacks each has happened 4 times. In 2000, Jason Taylor and Trace Armstrong had 14.5 and 16.5 respectively. In 2003 Jason Taylor and Adewale Ogunleye had 13 and 15 sacks each. The 2021 season saw Chubb and Emmanuel Ogbah do it and the 2022 season with Philips and Chubb.
These two teammates are starting to heat up at the right time. Since week 12 this bromance has combined for 7 sacks, 15 hits, and 5 quarterback hits. Wilkins and Sieler have also held Pro-Bowl running backs, Breece Hall and Derrick Henry to 12- and 34-yards rushing.
Wilkins currently has 8 sacks on the season and Sieler has 7.5 sacks. This duo will have their work cut out for them to close out the season. With three games to go, it’s not outside the realm of possibilities that Salt N’ Pepa each get 10 sacks. For now, “Salt and Pepa’s here and this dance ain’t for everybody.”