NFL Honors, D-line coach, 2020 draft story
Dolphin Digest|March 2021
It was a disappointing, albeit not entirely surprising, night for the Dolphins when the NFL Honors awards presentation took place.

Zach Thomas was not among the five modern-era finalists announced to be part of the 2021 Class for Pro Football Hall of Fame, while Xavien Howard and Brian Flores each finished third in the voting for league-wide awards.

Flores received six of the 50 votes for Coach of the Year to finish behind winner Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns (25 votes) and Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills (7).

While we'll never know for sure, we can't help but think that what happened in Week 17 ultimately decided this award and the difference was Cleveland making the playoffs and the Dolphins coming up short.

That's not entirely fair on two levels, from this standpoint, because Cleveland faced in Week 17 a Pittsburgh team that rested several key starters, including Ben Roethsliberger and NFL Defensive Player of the Year runner-up T.J. Watt, while the Dolphins faced a Buffalo team that used all its front-line players until the game was out of reach.

It also could be argued that Cleveland has a better roster than the Dolphins, therefore Flores getting Miami to 10-6 might have been more impressive than Stefanski getting the Browns to 11-5.

In the Defensive Player of the Year category, Howard came in a distant third with three votes, while the Rams’ Aaron Donald got 27 to win the award for a third time and Watt got 20.

Howard had a strong case because he was the first NFL player to reach 10 picks in a season since 2007, but Donald and Watt both played for top three defenses in terms of yards allowed and points allowed while the Dolphins were sixth in points allowed and 20th in yards allowed.

Here’s another key factor at play: It’s very rare for a cornerback to win that award. Yes, Stephon Gilmore won it in 2019, but new Hall of Famer Charles Woodson is the only other cornerback since 2004 who also won.

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