Is The Dolphins’ Long Wait For the Playoffs About To End?

The 2022 National Football league (NFL) regular season is approaching the halfway stage, meaning the various tables are taking shape. Some teams look nailed on to secure a place in the postseason games, with others looking over their shoulders and checking out the results of their opponents. The Miami Dolphins fall into the latter category, but at least the Phins still control their destiny.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) runs a play during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

You have to go all the way back to the 2000 season to find the last time the Dolphins progressed further than the Wild Card Playoffs. Even then, they fell at the Divisional Playoffs stage, losing disappointingly 27-0 to the then-Oakland Raiders. 2016 was the last time the Dolphins graced the playoffs with their presence; they lost 30-12 to Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round. Going 1-7 in 2021 left the Dolphins with too much work to do, and although they ended the regular season with a 9-8 record, they missed out on the playoffs for the fifth consecutive campaign.

A Mixed Start to the Current Regular Season

Fastforward to 2022, and the Dolphins are 5-3 from their opening eight fixtures. The Phins were 3-0, prompting many football fans to consider them the team for the best Super Bowl Vegas bets to make this season. However, three straight defeats followed, including a heavy 17-40 loss at the hands of the New York Jets, and suddenly people thought it was a case of the same old Miami.

Head coach Mike McDaniel put his faith in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa at the start of the season, and the 24-year-old had started to show why he was so highly rated in college. Tagovailoa returned to the starting line-up on Week 7 following his concussion injury, and the Dolphins returned to winnings ways, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-10 at the Hard Rock Stadium. On October 30, the Dolphins trailed the Detroit Lions 27-10 at halftime. Tagovailoa shone brightly in the second half, ending the game with 29 completions from 36 attempts, 382 yards, and three touchdown passes, as the Dolphins came back to win 31-27. The Dolphins are 5-1 with Tagovailoa pulling the strings from the pocket.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) and running back Raheem Mostert (31) do a dance after Waddle scored a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

This is the first time since Tagovailoa became the Dolphins’ starting quarterback that they have had top-tier receiving options and depth in the wide receiver position. Acquiring Tyreek Hill was a masterstroke, while Jaylen Waddle continues to dazzle each time he steps onto the field. It is no surprise the Dolphins lead the league in terms of passing yardage (2,455). Hill has already racked up 961 yards from 69 receptions for a 13.9-yard average. Waddle is on 727 yards from 42 receptions and an impressive 17.3-yard average. Both Hill and Waddle are on course for their best-ever regular season figures.

How Will The Second Half of the Season Pan Out?

The Dolphins have winnable fixtures in their next three games, which means McDaniel’s talented youngsters could go into December with an 8-3 record. They travel to the Chicago Bears on November 4 before hosting the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans on November 13 and 27, respectively.

There seems little wrong with the Dolphins’ offense. If Tagovailoa, Hill, and Waddle stay fit, the Dolphins have enough firepower to trouble anyone who faces them. Worryingly, the Dolphins have the fourth-worst passing defense for yards allowed. This area needs vast improvement, especially as the Phins face the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills, and Green Bay Packers after their trio of aforementioned winnable fixtures.

Exciting times are ahead for Dolphins fans, but they must win their next three games against teams they should beat if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. They do not want to go into six games of the campaign needing to pick up vital victories, although the Dolphins have already beaten both the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills.