Heading into week 13 of the NFL season, major injuries keep piling up for teams that can ill-afford the loss of any players. This week, the injury bug has again delivered a blow to the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins not only lost a key week 12 game versus division rival the New York Jets, they also lost wide receiver Rishard Matthews in the first quarter when he was crushed by Jets’ safety Calvin Pryor while going up for a high pass from QB Ryan Tannehill.
After viewing the play multiple times, most people agree it was a good hit. What some fans and players found appalling was some Jets players celebrating the play. Jets players stated they were only celebrating the hit, but Dolphins player weren't convinced. When asked about the Jets' comments, Pryor indicated it might not have gone down that way had Tannehill thrown a better pass. With that kind of commentary, fans should stay tuned for possible retribution the next time these two teams meet.
As the Dolphins' second-leading receiver with 43 receptions for 662 yards and 4 touchdowns, Matthews will be sorely missed. While there is no time table for his return, there is a good chance he won't make it back this season with multiple broken ribs. With the team fading out of playoff contention, it simply makes no sense to risk serious injury to players who will need to make big contributions in 2016.
The injury to Matthews could prove to be a great opportunity for rookie wideout DeVante Parker. Parker replaced Matthews in the first quarter and ended up with 4 receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown. Not bad for a player who has spent most of the season on the bench. Coming into the game against the Jets, Parker had only caught four passes for 49 yards over the first 10 games. If Parker can come through with a few good efforts over the next five games, it would provide the Dolphins with a nice group of receivers heading into next season.
After losing four of its last five games, the Dolphins find themselves last in the AFC East at 4-7. Worse yet is the fact they are 0-5 in the division with no realistic chance of making the playoffs as a wild card team. It looks to be time to start thinking about the 2016 season.
Aside from the need to make a final decision about the future of interim Head Coach Dan Campbell, the Dolphins have quite a few holes to fill. The first priority is figuring out how to stop the run and put pressure on the quarterback. On the season, they have a scant 23 sacks and 9 interceptions, which isn't going to get the job done in the NFL.
Another major area of concern is running back where starter Lamar Miller becomes eligible for free agency at the end of the season. If the Parker experiment works out, it's nice to know that the wide receiver position is one that owner Steve Ross won't have to worry about in the off-season.
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