What is at stake for Dolphins at tomorrow’s annual NFL Honors?

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Kyle Crabbs
·2 min read
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The NFL will celebrate their 101st season tomorrow evening ahead of Super Bowl LV and, for the Miami Dolphins, there will be some significant opportunities for recognition. No, Miami probably won’t see Brian Flores claim the Coach of the Year award after the Dolphins fell short in a playoff push despite landing 10 wins this season. That honor feels destined now for Cleveland’s Kevin Stefanski amid an 11-win season and a playoff win. But never the less, tomorrow night could still be a big night for the Miami Dolphins, thanks to two Dolphins defenders: one being an old classic and the other a current day standout.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021 will be announced and, for the second consecutive year, Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas will be in the mix — Thomas finally broke through as a finalist after several years of eligibility passing him by in 2020 but the general perception was that Thomas “just missed” getting the needed votes for the class of 2020. Thomas, who has strong endorsements from Hall of Famer Kevin Mawae and presumed 2021 first-ballot inductee Peyton Manning. Is 2021 the year that Zach breaks through? We’ll know by Saturday night.

Meanwhile, Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard is still a legitimate contender for the AP Defensive Player of the Year Award. Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald was named the PFWA Defensive Player of the Year last month — but to count out Howard’s 10 interception season, in which he was dominant in coverage all around, feels short-sighted.

Comparing Howard’s 2020 resume to that of the 2019 AP Defensive Player of the Year, Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore, would further back Howard’s case. In 2019, Gilmore won the award with:

  • Passer rating allowed: 44.1

  • Targets: 101

  • Interceptions: 6

  • Passes broken up: 20

Howard this year?

  • Passer rating allowed: 48.3 (-3.8 versus Gilmore)

  • Targets: 101 (tied with Gilmore)

  • Interceptions: 10 (+4 versus Gilmore)

  • Passes broken up: 20 (tied with Gilmore)

So sure, Aaron Donald played in the limelight of Los Angeles. But Howard’s resume is just as good as last year’s winner for a team that won as many games this year (10) as Donald’s did. So perhaps an upset is in the cards for the Dolphins.

If Miami manages to secure an upset in either case, then tomorrow night can be considered a win for the Dolphins.