By Dr. Bruce Banner
Bruce Banner here again. I have not had a season as peaceful as this season in a long time. The Miami Dolphins are 9-5, in sole possession of the 6 seed in the AFC playoff picture and in control of their own destiny. Every time I get that angry feeling like things are going to implode these Dolphins do something to help calm me down. Take the last game against the Jets, they got down 7-0 early on and the Jets were driving looking for a second touchdown. I was starting to get angry, pacing, punching walls and feeling a little green and then all of a sudden a turnover. Then a score and then another one. They took the lead and didn’t look back. It had an amazingly calming effect on me. When I am calm I am very reflective and some thoughts came to mind that I would like to share with you.
First is how good Kenny Stills has been. He is not a number 1 receiver but he has been one of the best deep threats in the NFL this year. He has 7 touchdown catches, all of them over 24 yards long. 3 of them over 50 yards long. He has developed into a true stretch the field threat that could seemingly get behind any defense. In my scientific opinion I would make it a priority to resign him this off season. Our offense is undoubtedly better with him on the field.
It also occurred to me while watching the game this past Saturday night that we may have witnessed the beginning of something special in the secondary. Ronnie Lippett and Xavien Howard were on the field together as the top 2 corners for really what was the first time all season. They proceeded to take a very talented Jet wide receiver corps out of the game. Lippett demonstrated his WR ball skills on a tremendous interception while covering Marshall and then snagged another on the final play of the game. Howard had a number of fine pass break ups as well. This combination has not been on the field much due to injuries from Howard and the need to transition Lippett from a WR to a CB. However, I think we got a glimpse of the future of what these 2 young corner backs can do and I was very impressed.
It cannot be stated enough about what an impact Adam Gase has had on this franchise. First and foremost he is holding players accountable. He is putting in the rookies and giving significant responsibilities during this playoff push. There are no more kit gloves. But more than that he has brought an aggressive play calling style to the offense. We push the ball down the field and he is willing to take chances instead of the Sporano 2 yards and a cloud of dust play calls and the Philbin 3 yard curl route. His aggressive play calling was never more evident than last Saturday’s game against the Jets. With a backup QB playing and the Jets stacking the box to stop the run, Gase put the game in the hands of Matt Moore. He aggressively called for some down field shots and throwing the ball to beat the Jets. He was not afraid to put the game in the hands of his backup QB.
Finally, I must mention how impressed I am with the job Matt Moore has done. He has delivered for us 2 weeks in a row. He came off the bench cold against the Cardinals and delivered a game winning drive in adverse weather with time running out. Then he goes on the road into the house of divisional rival in the middle of the playoff hunt and throws 4 touchdowns while leading this team to a huge victory. He is not as physically gifted as Ryan Tannehill and you can see he threw a couple of flutter balls. But he also made really good quick decisions. He has a very quick release and showed a great command of the offense. If he can win one of the two remaining games and deliver this team to the playoffs he will go down with Earl Morrall and Don Strock as among the great backup QBs who have played for this franchise. Moore has done exactly what you want a backup QB to do. Be ready when called upon and if needed to go out and start some games then his job is to give you a realistic opportunity to win those games. Moore has delivered on that in spades. There are some that say trade Moore this offseason as he likely will have the highest trade value he will ever have. However, I believe that Moore’s role as the dependable backup is far more important than any trade value he will bring. His presence of knowing you can’t count on him if Tannehill goes down is a calming effect on this team. And as you guys know I am all about staying calm.