Dolphins 2021 midseason awards: Team MVP? Most improved?

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The third season of the Brian Flores era in Miami hasn’t gone the way that many hoped. The Dolphins have struggled for a majority of the season, losing seven straight before winning their last two to land in third place in the AFC East with a 3-7 record through 10 weeks.

Miami’s schedule isn’t necessarily the most difficult, but they haven’t shown enough consistency for the fans and media to buy in on them beating teams that they should.

While most things have been negative around Hard Rock Stadium for a majority of the season, it’s still important to reflect on the first 10 weeks and talk about those who have shined.

These are the Dolphins’ midseason award winners.

MVP - CB Xavien Howard

The definition of the MVP award is often tossed around as a conversation. Does it mean the best player or does it mean the person who the team would fall apart without? Sometimes it’s one and the same.

For the Dolphins this year, that player is Xavien Howard. The veteran cornerback struggled early in the season, but he was still making impact plays, like forcing the fumble of Damien Harris to give the Dolphins a win in the opener.

Through 10 weeks, there’s no one who has made more plays that directly correlate to these wins than Howard, and, for that, he gets the MVP.

Offensive Player of the Year - TE Mike Gesicki

Without DeVante Parker and Will Fuller for stretches, the offense has relied on two players, and the most important one has been Gesicki. He’s lining up mostly out of the slot or outside, meaning he’s essentially playing receiver this season.

Through 10 games, the tight end has 44 receptions for 529 yards and two touchdowns. That pace would blow his receptions and yardage highs out of the water.

In Week 10, we saw Gesicki getting covered by the Ravens’ top cornerback in Marlon Humphrey. That’s the type of respect that he’s earned from opposing teams, and it should open up things for some of the other options.

Defensive Player of the Year - DE Emmanuel Ogbah

Heading into a free agent year, Ogbah has been the Dolphins’ most consistent player in 2021. His 81 PFF grade puts him second on the team, and he’s deserving of the high marks.

Through 10 games, Ogbah has five sacks and 16 quarterback hits. This pace would put him less than a sack off of his career-high (2020 – nine sacks) and set his career-high in hits with 27 (2020 – 21 quarterback hits). He’s already had seven knockdowns, just one of his best as well.

Everything that the Dolphins’ defense has succeeded at this season has stemmed from Ogbah’s play on the edge. If he continues this for the season and stays healthy, he’ll set himself up for a lot of money to come his way.

Offensive Rookie of the Year - WR Jaylen Waddle

Through 10 games, Waddle has the most receptions and fourth-most receiving yards of any rookie in the league. He has been the player who gets the drives going. His ability to get open quickly has been his best trait.

The next step for Waddle will be to get incorporated down the field, but that’s not necessarily his fault, as he’s not the one calling the plays. For now, he’ll have to survive with being one of the better rookies in the league this year.

Defensive Rookie of the Year - S Jevon Holland

Early in the season, Holland wasn’t getting snaps consistently. He had some weeks where he’d get 50 and others when he’d see 19.

Now, with a more defined role (and playing nearly 100% of the snaps every week), the former Oregon Duck has really taken his game up a notch. His ability was highlighted in the Week 10 game against the Baltimore Ravens where he was everywhere.

If Holland continues on this trajectory, he’ll be mentioned among the league’s best.

Most Improved Player - DL Christian Wilkins

In his third season, Wilkins is starting to become the player that the Dolphins projected him to be when he came out of Clemson. Statistically, he’s on pace to record 74 tackles, 10 quarterback hits, and 3.5 sacks which would all be career-highs.

If you’re into PFF grades, Wilkins has that covered too. The 25-year-old’s 81.1 grade is the highest on the Dolphins and the sixth-highest among all interior defensive linemen.

While the defensive tackle position doesn’t get the love that it should, it’s important to recognize Wilkins’ contributions this year.

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