The Miami Dolphins finished the regular season with a record of 9-8 before eventually losing their Super Wild Card matchup against the Buffalo Bills in a thriller by the score of 34-31. It was a roller coaster ride of a season with plenty of ups and downs along the way. The season didn’t end with the good guys hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, but with the team’s first playoff appearance since 2016, we can still say it was a success.
Since the season is now officially over for the Miami Dolphins, we at The Phinsider designated various staff members to determine who the winners of our end of season awards would be.
Who took home the imaginary hardware? Let’s find out!
MVP – Tyreek Hill (midseason winner was Tua Tagovailoa)
Tyreek Hill was acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs in March of 2022 for multiple draft picks including an always valuable first round selection. After the trade was finalized, the Dolphins then gave Hill a 4 year, $120 million contract extension. Many felt the receiver would struggle in Miami without the strong arm of Patrick Mahomes slinging him the football, however at season’s end, Tyreek Hill compiled the most receptions he’s ever had in a single season (119), the most receiving yards he’s ever had in a single season (1,710) and 8 total touchdowns — while catching passes from three separate quarterbacks. His receptions and receiving yards totals are both Miami Dolphins team records. I guess he didn’t come to Miami to retire after all, did he? Our midseason MVP, Tua Tagovailoa, will be coming back as the Dolphins’ starting quarterback next season according to General Manager Chris Grier and Head Coach Mike McDaniel, so he and Hill will look to build on the already outstanding chemistry the two have together as they work towards making 2023 an even more successful season.
Offensive Player of the Year – Tyreek Hill (midseason winner was Tyreek Hill)
One could argue Tua should get the nod here – given the importance of the QB position and the high level he played when healthy – but Hill delivered on what he was brought to Miami to do: add the big-play element to Miami’s offense. He was tied with Davante Adams for the most 40+ yard catches among receivers (7) and 2nd in 20+ yarders (25). He was also third in the league in first down receptions with 77 — only Justin Jefferson (80) and Travis Kelce (78) had more. For the season, Tyreek totaled 119 catches for 1,710 yards and 7 touchdowns.
He absolutely earned his first-team All-Pro honors. Now, just imagine what his production would have been if Tua hadn’t been out. my word
Defensive Player of the Years Christian Wilkins (midseason winner was Jaelan Phillips)
The man, the myth, and the soon-to-be legend.
Every Sunday, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins plays each down as if it’s his last. Offensive linemen are met by a certain fire that not only captures the hearts of Dolphins fans across the country, but also rubs off on his teammates as well. He’s the heart and soul behind this Miami Dolphins defense, and he is my 2022 Miami Dolphins Defensive Player of the Year.
This season, Wilkins posted career numbers in tackles (98), tackles for loss (16), and forced fumbles (2). He also ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 7th-best defensive tackle in the league, and as per ESPN, what the best defensive tackle in the league in terms of highest run stop win rate. Over the course of his stellar season, Wilkins also became the first NFL defensive lineman to notch 95+ tackles since 1994.
Overall, a fantastic season from a fantastic player.
Game of the Year Super Wild Card game against the Buffalo Bills (midseason winner was Week Two at Baltimore Ravens)
Could it be the opening day win against the Patriots? The monumental comeback over the Ravens the very next week? Possibly the Week 18 win over the New York Jets to put Miami into the postseason?
I know the suspense is killing you. For me, the Game of the Year has to be the first Fins’ playoff game in six seasons: the year’s third meeting with the Buffalo Bills, this time in the Wildcard round. Plus, Craig picked the Baltimore game for the midseason awards and I didn’t want to plagiarize.
No, Miami didn’t win. But they fought like hell despite coming into the game as a record 13.5 point underdog with three offensive line positions manned by a new player from the previous week, not to mention being led by a third string rookie quarterback. With all that in their way, they still managed to take the bills to the final minutes, only missing a massive upset by a few measly points. Regardless of the final outcome, that kind of showing has to put some hope in the hearts of Fins’ fans for the future. Knowing that the team can claw tooth and nail against some of the best competition, even when they aren’t nearly at their strongest, should provide positive vibes as the Dolphins embark on what’s sure to be an eventful 2023 offseason.
Play of the Year – Tua Tagovailoa 45-yard completion to Jaylen Waddle on third and 22 against the Buffalo Bills in Week 3 (midseason winner was Tua Tagovailoa launches a 60-yard TD bomb to Tyreek Hill to tie the game against the Baltimore Ravens).
The national perspective surrounding the quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins changed on Sept. 25 against the Bills. Trailing 17-14, lineman Greg Little was called for ineligibly being downfield before Tagovailoa was sacked for a seven-yard loss. Now, on third-and-22, Tagovailoa took the snap out of the shotgun and fired a moon shot downfield to Jaylen Waddle for a 45-yard completion on a drive where the Dolphins would take the lead for good.
Miami struggled in third-down situations all season but making the third-and-long throw look like a party trick changed the year’s trajectory. The Dolphins scored on a Chase Edmonds run, but that throw not only proved that the team can win with Tagovailoa, but that the Dolphins were capable of having one of the league’s most dangerous offenses.
Newcomer of the Year – Kader Kohou (midseason winner was Mike McDaniel)
The definition of “newcomer” can be a tad hazy, compared to the other awards. If you’re talking about anyone who was new to the Dolphins this season, the candidate pool is deep. You have long-established, top-flight free-agent signings like Terron Armstead or Tyreek Hill, both of whom put up per bowl seasons yet again. Other new Dolphins like Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, Alec Ingold, Connor Williams, Thomas Morstead and others had positive impacts at various times, continuing to show off skills they had exhibited for other teams prior to joining Miami in 2022. I could have gone with one of the many new coaches who came into the building for 2022, especially on the offensive side of the ball. So many folks left other teams and had a positive impact on the Dolphins this season.
Instead, I’m choosing to look elsewhere, though. I’m going with one Kader Kohou – a newcomer in every sense of the word, and one who had a truly outsized impact for someone I’m betting few Dolphins fans had heard of before his signing as an undrafted rookie back in May. To this immigrant from Ivory Coast (like most of the world) “football” meant soccer until he moved to Texas as a kid. Though he picked up the American game quickly and excelled in college, it was at under-the-radar Texas A&M Commerce, which doesn’t show up on many NFL draft scouts’ radars. Despite all that, the Dolphins were impressed and Kohou earned a roster spot among a strong group of veteran defensive backs. When the injury bug started biting with a vengeance early in the season, Kohou found himself playing a lot more than anyone expected and playing far better than anyone expected. “Darth” Kader played in 15 regular season games, starting in 13 of them. He also played nearly defensively every snap from the start of November right through the wildcard loss in Buffalo. While he had a few gaffes – to be expected from any rookie, let alone an undrafted one from a little-known university – he improved quickly and had plenty of positive impact plays over the course of the season. Often targeted by opposing QBs and wide receivers the Dolphins faced, including plenty of Pro Bowlers, Kohou often held his own quite admirably and only got better as he gained experience throughout the season. For my money and keeping in mind the question of “which new player’s impact exceeded everyone’s expectation of them?”, I am pleased to present my 2022 Dolphins Newcomer Award to Mr. Kader Kohou. If his rookie campaign was any indication, the Dolphins may have found a key defensive back for years to come.