2019 was a difficult year for Miami Dolphins fans. The team was sold on “hope” and the promise of a better future — but a future that would very much come at the expense of a competitive roster in 2019. The Miami Dolphins of last year could barely keep their head above water for the first two months of the season, too. Too many new pieces, too many young players, too much happening too quickly for those being asked to execute.
But by the end of the year, the Dolphins got hot and closed the year with 5 wins in their final 9 games. It was a terrific close to a difficult set of circumstances.
But with the 2020 season now in full swing and the Dolphins having played three contests, how does this year’s unit measure up to last year’s team? How improved are all phases of the squad?
Let’s take a look.
Sep 24, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki (88) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the second half at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
Offense (through 3 games)
2019 points per game: 5.3 points
2020 points per game: 23.3 points
2019 yards per game: 222.3 yards
2020 yards per game: 324.3 yards
2019 turnovers: 8
2020 turnovers: 3
2019 third-down conversion rate: 8 of 40 (20% success rate)
2020 third-down conversion rate: 16 of 36 (44% success rate)
Sep 24, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II (15) throws an interception to Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (not pictured) during the second half at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
Defense (Through 3 games)
2019 points per game: 133 points
2020 points per game: 65 points
2019 yards per game: 499.3 yards
2020 yards per game: 399.3 yards
2019 turnovers: 2
2020 turnovers: 4
2019 sacks: 4
2020 sacks: 7
Dec 22, 2019; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders (7) kicks the game winning field goal in overtime against the Cincinnati Bengals at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Dolphins haven’t missed a kick through three games this season — kicker Jason Sanders is four of four on field goal attempts and six of six on extra points attempts. But the real improvement for Miami’s special teams is the performance of punter Matt Haack, who has dropped several beautiful punts deep into opposing territory through three games this season. The Dolphins struggled with consistency on that front in 2019 — so while there’s no true statistical measure to mark the improvement, it serves as a clear added advantage when Miami can flip the field and pin the opposition deep.