The Miami Dolphins are in a world of hurt — quite literally — as they prepare for Sunday’s season finale with the Buffalo Bills. The NFL’s final game of the 2023 season will determine who gets the AFC East divisional crown and the much-coveted number-two seed in the conference guaranteeing the winner a home playoff game. Miami’s injury report is making it look like it’s going to be a long, rough week.
To start, linebacker Bradley Chubb tore an ACL in the final minutes of last week’s game, a 56-19 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Chubb was carted off the field while Dolphins’ head coach Mike McDaniel went under scrutiny for still having his starting linebacker in the game knowing there was no way to mount a comeback and with so much at stake in Week 18.
Dolphins HC Mike McDaniel on LB Bradley Chubb.— Marcel Louis-Jacques (@Marcel_LJ) December 31, 2023
Added that in hindsight, we would’ve taken Chubb out of the game had he known he was going to get hurt:
“It doesn’t look very smart at all.” pic.twitter.com/YElRPWRCH5
Adding insult to Chubb’s injury is the fact that the Dolphins are already without linebacker Jaelan Phillips who tore his Achilles in November. Phillips and Chubb have combined for 61 solo tackles, 17 sacks, one interception and six forced fumbles during the 2023 NFL season.
To keep the hits coming for Miami’s defense, McDaniel announced on Monday that while cornerback Xavien Howard’s foot injury doesn’t appear that it will require surgery, he isn’t expecting the veteran cornerback to be able to play in Sunday’s winner-take-all AFC East showdown.
Dolphins HC Mike McDaniel says CB Xavien Howard’s foot injury does not appear to require surgery.— Marcel Louis-Jacques (@Marcel_LJ) January 1, 2024
McDaniel is not planning for Howard to play Sunday vs the Bills
The Dolphins’ defense is full of holes as linebackers David Long and Duke Riley are also on the injury report, although the pair was able to get in some limited practice on Wednesday. Also practicing in a limited fashion was safety Jaevon Holland who’s struggling with injuries after suffering MCL sprains to both knees in Miami’s 34-13 win over the New York Jets during November.
Miami also has linebacker Jerome Baker on their Injured Reserve list. Baker had recorded 35 tackles, 1.5 sacks and two interceptions before he was injured in Week 13. However, in a little bit of good news for the Dolphins, the team did open his practice window on Wednesday and reported that he was able to practice in a limited capacity on his first day back.
As bleak as things look for Miami’s defense, their offense isn’t in much better shape. Offensive tackle Terron Armstead has a whole list of injuries and was a non-participant while wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, who missed Sunday’s game in Baltimore, still isn’t able to maneuver through an ankle injury. Running back Raheem Mostert is also sidelined with a combination of injuries to his knee and ankle. Despite missing the game in Baltimore, Mostert has 1,012 yards and 18 touchdowns on the season.
While losing Mostert and Waddle makes things rough for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — who himself is working through a shoulder injury he suffered near the end (again, like Chubb) of Sunday’s loss in Baltimore — it’s compounded by the fact that neither running back De’Von Achane or wide receiver Tyreek Hill are healthy either. Achane is dealing with ribs and toe injuries while Hill is dealing with a nagging ankle injury that has been a problem for more than a month now.
For Tagovailoa, who’s going to face a healthy Bills’ pass rush led by defensive tackle Ed Oliver (9.5 sacks) and edge rusher Leonard Floyd (10.5 sacks), and bolstered by a returned-to-the-lineup defensive tackle DaQuan Jones and defensive end A.J. Epenesa (6.5 sacks) as well as defensive end Greg Rousseau (5 sacks), things aren’t looking too bright. Every single starting offensive lineman for the Dolphins is on the team’s injury report with an entire laundry list of injuries.