Top 25 Miami Dolphins players countdown: No. 25 is Jason Sanders

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This is The Palm Beach Post's Top 25 countdown of Dolphins players entering the 2022 season. We'll reveal multiple players each week throughout the summer, as ranked by our reporters using a simple criterion: Who's the better player right now?

Two years ago, Jason Sanders was an All-Pro, one of the best kickers in the NFL.

Last season, he wasn't.

In fact, Sanders was 30th in the NFL in field goal percentage, at 74.2%.

"That missed opportunity, that ball that creeps in there, is just creeping in at the wrong time," Dolphins special teams coach Danny Crossman said in December. "So he still strikes some really good balls. And we still have great confidence in him."

In February, Sanders signed a five-year $22 million contract extension. It was the fourth-highest average annual contract salary among NFL kickers.

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Was there an issue with new holder Michael Palardy? Did the new money create some new pressure? Was the problem mental, as opposed to physical?

"At this level, I think that being in the proper headspace and having that innate confidence is a big part of it," Crossman, who returns in 2022, said last year. "Everybody in this league, regardless of position, is talented. They wouldn't be here if they weren't."

The Dolphins expect Sanders to return to 2021 form.

Why we ranked Jason Sanders 25th

Despite a subpar effort in 2021, Sanders is still the most accurate kicker in Dolphins history, at 83.3% (100-for-120).

Dan Carpenter and Olindo Mare are second and third.

Only two seasons ago, Sanders was a remarkable 36 of 39, for 92.3%.

Sanders missed eight field goals last season, but he was 13-for-15 on tries between 20-29 yards as well as 34-for-35 on extra points.

At times Sanders experienced some pressure due to less than ideal blocking, which is especially unhelpful on long attempts. He was 2 of 6 from 50 or more yards.

Sanders didn't suddenly become a terrible kicker. This is a player who has converted 69 straight NFL extra points.

At one point in 2021, Sanders had a streak of 10 kicks made from 50 yards or longer.

Miami Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders (7), kicks a field goal Nov. 11 against the Baltimore Ravens at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Sanders had three field goals in the Dolphins' 22-10 victory.
Miami Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders (7), kicks a field goal Nov. 11 against the Baltimore Ravens at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Sanders had three field goals in the Dolphins' 22-10 victory.

Where we see Jason Sanders headed

Sanders, a seventh-rounder via New Mexico, has alternated very good seasons and not-so-great seasons over the first four years of his NFL career.

That means 2022 should be very good.

Sanders will have a new holder, likely punter Thomas Morstead or backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

New head coach Mike McDaniel delivers positive vibes and surely will work to help build Sanders' confidence.

Crossman has confidence in Sanders because of his solid overall body of work. There's no reason to believe Sanders won't be at least a solid kicker again in 2022.

Joe Schad is a journalist at The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA Today Florida Network. You can reach him at jschad@pbpost.comHelp support our journalism. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Miami Dolphins Top 25 players summer countdown includes Tua Tagovailoa