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Sunday Dolphins Mailbag: "Wilsonitis," Individual Awards, 1984 Team, and More

Will Byron Jones return at some point this season? Is the offensive line getting enough credit this season? Those and other questions from Miami Dolphins fans

Sunday edition of a bye-week-long supersized SI Fan Nation All Dolphins mailbag:

From phin1984 (@Phin1984Gareth):

How well did McKinley play at safety?

Hey there, upon first viewing and after rewatching, nothing really jumped out at me with McKinley other than the Chubb touchdown run when he came flying in from his deep safety spot and tried to throw his body at Chubb, only to bounce off him and see the running back never break stride for the touchdown. Outside of that, nothing really stood out, though I can tell you he was in on five tackles, per the gamebook.

From Jerry (@UFGatorJer):

Do you think the Dolphins bring in any kickers during the bye week?

Hey Jerry, that did happen and Mike McDaniel said Monday he was confident Sanders would turn things around and they were staying the course.

From Matty Phins (@phgins17and0):

Is the improvement on the Dolphins O-line getting enough attention/credit? Tua sure did have a lot of time against the Browns and the running lanes were enormous. Something I didn't even think was possible just weeks ago.

Hey Matty, no, the offensive line isn’t getting nearly enough credit, which is kind of bad considering how much criticism (a lot of it rightly so) it took the past two seasons. But that’s not how fans operate, so maybe the lack of bitching about the line has been greeted by the O-linemen as major kudos.

From Jeffallen782 (@jeffallen782):

Let’s hype up signing DT Ndamukong Suh. Your thoughts?

Editor's note: This question was submitted before Suh signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. Hey Jeff, that would be a no for me. First off, you have to think there’s a reason a player of his pedigree is still out there, right? Secondly, I’m not sure he’s the type of player you bring into a locker room halfway through a season. And thirdly, the Dolphins have done very well with their interior defensive linemen; the need they have now is at D-end because of the Ogbah injury.

From dolphins stan (@georgesburn3r):

In your opinion, how did the DL look post Ogbah given he’s out the rest of the year? And did the offense being able to put up (almost 40) without a dominant game from Waddle or Hill provide a sense of safety/security for future games?

I didn’t notice much of a difference after Ogbah left the game, just a lot more 3-4 looks, with Phillips, Ingram, Chubb and AVG rotating as the outside linebackers. I would suspect we’ll see more of that moving forward. As for the offense, yeah, there’s no question that performance was highly encouraging for what’s to come considering the way everything worked and the balance we saw.

From Daniel Dion (@DanielDion):

Can we stop wondering if Byron Jones is coming back or is he seriously planning to return?

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Hey Daniel, from a pure Jones standpoint, it’s tough to tell because he hasn’t addressed the media all year and he’s also been quiet on social media. I still have to think he’ll come back at some point this season.

From Jorge boyd (@raga1922):

Hi Alain, how do you replace Ogbah in the Dolphins defensive lineup and who do you replace Ogbah with? Example, do you play Zach Sieler at DE, do you bring some free agent from outside the organization, are there any available that are decent?

Hey Jorge, Sieler technically already plays DE for the Dolphins — when they’re in a 3-4 look. Ogbah lined up more as a DE when the defense used a 4-3 alignment, and I’m not sure there was anybody else on the roster to fill that exact role until the Dolphins signed Brennan Scarlett back to the practice squad. Scarlett has the body type to fill the Ogbah role and indicated he got a lot of snaps at defensive end in OTAs. I also think maybe we’ll just be seeing more 3-4 looks from the Dolphins.

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From Michael Gura (@MichaelGura4):

Hey Alain! A fun question to punctuate the boredom of the bye… The current team plays the ‘84 team in generational battle. Who wins & what’s the score?

Hey Michael, that is a very fun question and one obviously tough to answer, understanding that today’s athletes are bigger, faster, stronger than they were 38 years ago. Applying 1984 Dolphins vs. 1984 NFL and 2022 Dolphins vs. 2022 NFL, I think we would be looking at a big-time shootout because both offenses are explosive — to say the least — and both defenses have their flaws. So let’s call it 44-41, Tua and Marino both pass for over 400 yards and flip a coin as to who wins.

From Walt Thiessen (via email):

Hi Alain, I get it that people want to talk about Tua for MVP or Mike M for Coach of the Year or Tyreek for Offensive Player of the Year. But my question is this: why is all of that important? Isn't the team a whole lot more important, win or lose? Isn't what matters everyone pulling in the same direction, giving it their all? That's what Mike M. has been saying consistently. That's what any really good coach says, because it's true. So why are all of the individual accolades so important? I agree with Tua on this. "It would be cool, but we have bigger goals and aspirations on what we want to do as a team." That's what really matters. Regarding the Jason Sanders controversy, I think we should all remember what Adam Vinatieri said about kicking, "The mental aspect of kicking is the difficult part. Physically, we still have to be in shape and perform on the field, but the thing that separates the ones who make it versus the ones who don't is definitely the mental side." Sanders is struggling with the mental part of the job. Instead of calling for a change in kickers, don't you think Dolphins fans should be focusing on helping him to build his self-confidence instead of constantly tearing him down? It's not like athletes never hear what the fans and talking heads say.

Hey Walt, appreciate both of your points. Individual awards make for good chatter (sometimes), but they don’t hold the same place for me as other sports because football is such a team sport in that anybody’s success is dependent on other players and being the best at what you do might not get you recognized simply because of the position you play. But, yeah, individual award don’t matter nearly as much as team success. As for Sanders, I’m of the belief that outside noise (such as criticism from fans) come with being a pro athlete. If Sanders’ issues have even a speck to do with fan criticism, then you’ve got the wrong guy. Sanders very well might have confidence issues right now, but those are coming from within, not from fans.

From Jeff (via email):

Hey Alain, when the season literally started I felt apprehensive because of some of those injuries in camp and preseason. This season was always about waiting to see where we stand, and what kind of a team we really have. As the season progressed, IR has gotten a bit deeper and that's not a good thing at all. With the mindset of McDaniel and how he spoke about the Wilsons playing physical, I agree, but that comes at a risk too. All the fans can beg for is a healthy team for the final weeks of the season. The last 6 weeks will decide the division and answer a lot of questions about the Dolphins franchise moving forward. Especially those week 15-17 games, what do those results say about the coach long term? What does all of this really mean for the Dolphins given their history of stumbling?

Hey Jeff, think you’re getting ahead of yourself here. Injuries will happen in football no matter what style you have. The Dolphins win on offense because of their speed, not their toughness, and “Wilsonitis,” as McDaniel calls it, is fine and dandy, but won’t make as much of a difference as Hill and Waddle getting open and Tua getting them the ball. As for making judgments about McDaniel or the franchise moving forward, why don’t we see how things play out in Weeks 15-18 before we start evaluating? All we have to go by right now are the first 10 games, and I’d say things are looking pretty damn good for both the team and the McDaniel hire.

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