Welcome to the latest in our series of MVP Reviews, where we discuss a fanbase voted MVP from each of our weekly games. Each week Aqua Thirteen will post a poll of four nominated players as potential MVP candidates from the latest game, and the player with the most votes will be covered in this series.
Now it is hasn’t been easy being a Dolphins fan over the last two weeks, with placid, underwhelming performances from a lot of players. So much so, we couldn’t bring ourselves to discuss an MVP candidate for the blowout loss to the Bills. While the Raiders game was hardly much better in a lot of aspects, there was more to like in a much closer game which we lost during overtime. So while the world is full of negative Dolphins takes and constant roster/staff speculation, we felt there was enough scope to bring this series back and put some positivity out into the Dolphin Universe.
Therefore our MVP from our overtime defeat to the Raiders in Week 3 is Elandon Roberts.
It was a much closer vote than when Xavien Howard won it in week 1, with Roberts this week winning with 38% of the vote, narrowly beating Mike Gesicki who finished with 33% and Jacoby Brissett (19%) and Jaelen Phillips (10%) coming in 3rd and 4th place.
None of the four candidates had a dominant display that lasted the duration of the game, with Gesicki a non-factor for most of the first half, but came up good once we fell behind with some key plays to haul ourselves back into the game. QB2 Jacoby Brissett could be described in similar ways, after an ineffective first 3 quarters, yet a valiant final quarter which included a rush TD and 2 point conversion to force overtime. Finally Jaelen Phillips is starting to look like a problem, while he didn’t get the sack we are all eagerly anticipating, he covered a lot of ground, showcased his athleticism and made tackle after tackle in another solid defensive display.
However, Elandon Roberts topped the voting, and we explore why underneath.
MVP REVIEW: OVERALL PERFORMANCE
In any defeat it is hard to find someone with a flawless performance, heck, its hard to find a flawless performance even when a team wins. But amongst the Dolphins players on Sunday at the Raiders, it would be hard to argue that any one player had a greater impact than Elandon Roberts.
Totalling 5 tackles, with 3 solo and 2 assisted, forcing a fumble and snagging an interception which he returned 85 yards for a defensive touchdown, that is some stat line for someone who is considered primarily as a run stuffer.
His impact on the game is not only measured there, but when you look at some of his individual plays, there was one tackle on Kenyan Drake that was perhaps better than it first looked. Ex-Dolphin Drake has bounced out to the right of the Dolphins defense and it seemed that only Roberts was alive to it. The linebacker had Drake in his cross hairs, only to dive in and merely clip the heels of the running back, it seemed like a missed opportunity.
However when you look at the tape, Drake was just about to kick in a step which would have taken him along the sideline and damn close to the endzone pylon, given his position and the static Dolphins defense. However Roberts’ touch and pressure made him hesitate, forced him to halt the momentum and turned what could have been a major offensive play, into a mere 4 yard gain.
Roberts was productive all game, and his plays had impact. While not one of the major names on this roster, his play in this game should not be lost amongst the sea of negativity that surrounds other aspects of our game.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The Dolphins started this game strong, well, at least defensively. They git plenty of tackles in, sacked the quarterback with a couple more pressures and yet with 6.49 left on the clock in the first period, the Raiders snapped the ball on the Miami 21 yard like in a second and 4 situation.
Quarterback Derek Carr acted calmly at first, the ball made it safely and comfortably into his hands and he dropped back a couple of steps to around the 30 yard line and began to assess the field as routes unfolded. However this was soon halted.
An incredible assist and big props go out to safety Eric Rowe who made his pass rush attempt and bore down on Carr untouched for what would have been a clean and heavy sack. But Carr saw him just in time, and threw the ball the way he was facing, towards TE Foster Moreau. However the pressure from Rowe proved too much, and the pass was inaccurate.
Up stepped inside linebacker Elandon Roberts, who stepped up the field and into the flight of the ball. Catching it clean and even more crucially, catching it in stride. The momentum he caught the ball with lead to this play not only being an interception, but potentially a return too.
A big return, a HUGE return. A 85 yard return for a TOUCHDOWN and Miami had gone from a position of hoping to make the Raiders settle for a field goal, to being 7-0 up with a defensive touchdown and extending their active takeaway streak to TWENTY-FIVE consecutive matches. And the man closest to Roberts when he crossed into the endzone…the man who crossed the line one step behind and with a hand on his shoulders, was Eric Rowe, the man whose pressure created the INT opportunity to start with.
To add to the magic of this moment, just a year ago, in the very same stadium against the very same team, Elandon Roberts was driven off the field on the cart, head bowed in despair with a towel covering his fresh off a serious knee injury. One year one, he makes THIS play, within THIS performance. A wonderful moment and a fantastic defensive play from a number of players and the perfect opportunity for the Dolphins to build.
A big play, within the context of a fantastic performance, from an under appreciated member of the Miami defensive group, here’s what the Twitter voices have said about this man’s performance and that huge Pick 6.
“It Meant a Lot!”
“Hell of a half became hell of a game!“
“What a game!”