Even though the season goes down as 6-10 for the Dolphins, it doesn’t mean there weren’t moments and people worth remembering. Here’s a look at the highlights, lowlights and inexplicables of 2015-16.
Play of the year
WR Jarvis Landry
Step aside, Odell Beckham Jr. Your buddy, Landry, scores the NFL’s catch of the year with a 26-yard, one-handed, falling-backward, how’d-he-do-that grab against the Indianapolis Colts.
WR Rishard Matthews
Matthews, only 26, had a breakout year, going from 12 receptions for 135 yards last season to 43 catches for 662 yards despite missing five games to injury. That’s the good news. The bad news: He probably priced himself out of the Dolphins’ market for next season.
Most awkward moment
50th anniversary gala
The Dolphins were showing highlights throughout the evening. The ‘60s were marked by the awarding of the franchise to Joe Robbie. The ‘70s: a dynasty. The ‘80s and ‘90s: the Marino Years. The past 1 1/2 decades? Uh … anyone have a suggestion? They showed Michael Thomas’ storybook interception of Tom Brady in the end zone. That was about it.
Quote of the year
Owner Stephen Ross and interim coach Dan Campbell (tie)
First quote of the season: Ross was asked if he’s getting impatient and ready for results right now. “You’re goddamn right!” he said.
Campbell said, “I think Magic Johnson is a hell of a player” in response to, well, if you don’t know, just Google “Magic Johnson & Dolphins Wife.”
C Mike Pouncey
Pouncey was emotional this past offseason when he accepted the team’s contract extension, talking about how grateful he was that the organization stuck with him despite boneheaded mistakes he’d made early in his career. What happened next? Pouncey fulfilled his promise to grow up to such an extent that teammates voted him winner of the Leadership Award.
Still a mystery
RB Jay Ajayi
The Dolphins blew it by putting him on short-term injured reserve with a preseason rib injury, costing him the first half of the season when he probably could have played after the first couple of weeks. Ajayi finished with only 49 carries this season, meaning the Dolphins still don’t know what they have in him if Lamar Miller bolts in free agency.
It wasn’t until late in the season that QB Ryan Tannehill was involved in putting together the game plan? Seriously?
The run game
How the Dolphins went deep into the season with one of the best per-rush averages in the NFL — and one of the worst attempts-per-game averages in the NFL.
The run defense
How the Dolphins added Ndamukong Suh to the defensive line and still regressed on run defense, giving up 5 more yards per game over an already lame 2014 performance.
Strangest locker room tale
One day, DE Cam Wake went on a monologue to explain why the section of the locker room occupied by himself and Ndamukong Suh — and only those two, despite the presence of six lockers — was considered such prime real estate, you had to be invited simply to apply for occupancy there. He pointed out the many amenities, including his bubble machine (not making this up).
Equally strange locker room tale
OT Ulrick John
One day, the freshly signed John popped up in the locker room … and was assigned a stall smack in the middle of Manhattan, clueless on the significance.
Downright bizarre locker room tale
DE Damontre Moore
Amid a serious interview with Ryan Tannehill over whether the locker room was divided, Moore barged in with a microphone he’d taken from a reporter and asked, if Tannehill felt “blessed and fortunate … to have a beautiful specimen like myself as a teammate.” Tannehill’s response: “No.”
S Walt Aikens
Aikens spread Christmas spirit by purchasing groceries for a grandmother he’d just met in the checkout line. Touched, she took down his address and sent him what became of those groceries — a batch of cookies she’d baked. He wasn’t in any rush to share them with teammates, and who could blame him, as sweet as the whole thing was?
Dolphins throwback jerseys
Simple. Ditch the current jerseys. Wear the old ones. Just wash them first, OK?
It is what it isn’t award
Yeah, that was me grilling Tannehill on what went wrong for this team this year. After he blew off my question by saying the reason for missing the playoffs was they didn’t win enough games, I kept at it, repeatedly asking why as he repeatedly blew off my questions. “I can keep going if you want,” he said as I waved the white flag and told him he’d won. Some took this as license that Tannehill wasn’t taking his job seriously by kissing off the losses. These were the same folks who weren’t there and had no clue of the context. Hey, people: Ryan and I were just having fun, laughing the whole time. And if you think he wasn’t owning up to things he could have done better, you weren’t paying attention to the other 15 weekly media sessions we had.
Best defensive player
S Reshad Jones
Still waiting for someone to explain how this guy is just an alternate to the Pro Bowl: 135 tackles, two sacks, five interceptions, including two pick-6s. Somebody get this guy a ticket to Hawaii in first class.
WR Jarvis Landry
Landry was my pick not only because of what he meant to the offense (1,157 yards on 110 receptions) but his added value on special teams. But even as I cast that vote, I felt guilty about shortchanging Jones. Luckily, enough other voters felt the same way, so Landry and Jones ended up sharing the team’s MVP award. I have a hunch, by the way, that Landry was hurting much more than anyone knew the last half of the season, but he still warranted the pound-for-pound title for yards after contact.