What. Is. Happening. Right. Now? Better question: What happened?
Quite a few things have occurred over the past 45 days that have contributed to the Dolphins' transforming from a jabroni pretender into the hottest team in the NFL. Here are a few that stand out.
1. Adam Gase lost his foot in some offensive linemen's asses.
The Dolphins are 5-0 since they cut Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner, and Jamil Douglas all on the same day. If you saw that sort of run coming following the riddance of three recent high-round drafts picks, you really should quit your day job and move to Las Vegas to take up a new career as an NFL sharp.
Gase saved the season with those moves following the Dolphins' 30-17 loss to the Titans — not because of anything that was related to the field of play, but because in that moment, the rest of the football team was put on notice and delivered a message: No matter who you are, you might not make it another week on this roster. Gase isn't about to sit around and let the stink of Joe Philbin's locker room ruin his tenure as the Dolphins' head coach.
2. Ryan Tannehill doesn't look like the Ryan Tannehill we used to know.
There are probably a million reasons much smarter people will tell you that Ryan Tannehill has played like a damn Pro Bowler lately, but we'll keep it simple-stupid short here and just say HOLY BALLS IS RYAN TANNEHILL AWESOME NOW! Dude is stepping into deep throws under pressure and putting them on receivers' hands 50 yards down the field like a damn sniper.
Tannehill has never played better than he's playing now, and it seems to have a lot to do with Adam Gase, whom some pseudo literary geniuses have termed the quarterback whisperer. It's obvious Gase used magic or some sort of spell to turn Tannehill into a quarterback who not only is capable of managing a
That or the offensive line got healthy. Or that. ABOUT THAT.
3. The offensive line got healthy.
Ironically, the fact that some linemen were ailing against the Los Angeles Rams this past week is the best sign the Dolphins are a contender for the first time in maybe a decade. The team is completely different when Pouncey, Albert, Tunsil, James, and Bushrod take the field together. It rarely happens (it's referred to as the unicorn lineup for a reason), but when it does, the Dolphins transform into an elite football team.
When the Fins have all of their high-draft-pick starting offensive linemen, they can run the ball against anyone in football. That's pretty much all you need to know when wondering if Miami is a legit contender.
4. DeVante Parker has finally become a more consistent threat.
The Dolphins' former 14th-overall first-round draft pick seems to have finally arrived. Parker is up to 38 catches for 485 yards on the season, but it's his recent performances that have drawn the most praise. Parker had 103 yards on five catches against the Chargers two weeks ago, and eight catches for 79 yards and the game-winning touchdown versus the Rams last week.
Parker is the engine for the Dolphins' wide-receiver core. His deep threat opens the field for the entire offense and makes room for Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry underneath. If teams have to respect him and Jay Ajayi at the same time, it's a pick-your-poison type of scenario.
5. The J-Train made very few stops in October and November.
Jay Ajayi had 75 yards after four games. After ten games, he has 802. Yeah, shit happened along the way. In those six games when Ajayi rushed for more than 700 yards, the offensive line got healthy, Tannehill started making the best throws of his career, Parker became a threat, and Gase laid down the Gase-hammer on underperformers. But the biggest difference has been Ajayi running like a man possessed.
The Dolphins' line has been healthy in front of Ajayi before, and he never looked as good as he has since early October. The biggest reason Miami is on the verge of a six-game winning streak is the emergence of Ajayi. He has given the Dolphins an identity and is someone other teams must plan for and fear.