What stat best encapsulates Dolphins’ one-year improvement?

Ultimately, the Miami Dolphins’ successes on the gridiron will be defined by wins and losses — and so therefore Miami’s 2020 squad should be quite proud of what they’ve accomplished through 15 games this season. Their 10 wins doubles the team’s total from the previous season and, in Year 2 of a rebuild with a massive roster overhaul and two new coordinators in place, the Dolphins have hit their stride late, earning a 9-2 mark in their last 11 football games. One of those losses? A 6-point defeat at the hands of the 14-1 Kansas City Chiefs, who are the defending Super Bowl champions.

It’s been quite the ride. And it hopefully isn’t done yet.

But as we prepare to start to look back on the 2020 season in retrospect, one statistic (outside of wins) stands out as a dramatic sign of the Dolphins’ progress — especially when you compare it to the history of the franchise.

The statistic? Margin of Victory.

On a game by game basis, how much do you average winning or losing by across all 16 games? The Miami Dolphins’ 2020 margin of victory (MoV) is 6.4 points per game. So, across 15 games this season, Miami is on average nearly a touchdown better than their opponent week in and week out. That figure by itself is important. Only 11 iterations of the Miami Dolphins have been better — and they were all coached by Don Shula and they were all prior to 1986.

  • 1972: 15.3 MoV (won Super Bowl)

  • 1973: 13.8 MoV (won Super Bowl)

  • 1984: 13.4 MoV (lost Super Bowl)

  • 1971: 10.1 MoV (lost Super Bowl)

  • 1975: 9.6 MoV (10-4, missed playoffs)

  • 1983: 8.7 MoV (lost Divisional Round)

  • 1977: 8.3 MoV (10-4, missed playoffs)

  • 1974: 7.9 MoV (lost Divisional Round)

  • 1982: 7.4 MoV (lost Super Bowl)

  • 1978: 7.4 MoV (lost Wild Card Round)

  • 1985: 6.8 MoV (lost Conference Championship)

  • 2020: 6.4 MoV (to be determined)

Again, impressive stuff. But what makes this statistic really pop is when you compare it to Year 1 of the Brian Flores era in Miami, when the Dolphins logged the second worst Margin of Victory in the history of the franchise (-11.8 points per game). Only the 1967 team (-13.4) under the direction of George Wilson was worse. That’s right. Miami’s MoV in 2019 was worse than the discrepancy the team posted in 2007 when they finished 1-15.

But that’s all water under the bridge now. And the Dolphins are on average 18.2 collective points better on the scoreboard per game than they were this time last year. If that’s not an indication of where the Dolphins are headed, nothing is.