The Dolphins have made some great trades in their storied history. Acquiring Hall of Fame coach Don Shula ranks No. 1, and acquiring Hall of Fame guard Larry Little and Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti are a couple of others high on that prestigious list.
Will trading for wide receiver Tyreek Hill eventually find a spot somewhere on that elite list?
After just eight games, things are quickly trending in that direction.
Hill has been absolutely amazing.
There’s no other way to say it.
The game is important to him, and it shows.
“Everybody knows me as a workaholic — all I do is just think about ball,” Hill said after Sunday’s 31-27 victory at Detroit. “I live, sleep and I die on this hill of playing football, man.”
Hill, a 5-foot-10, 191-pound ball of muscle acquired from Kansas City during the offseason (give general manager Chris Grier credit), was electrifying against the Lions.
Cheetah, as he’s called because of his blazing speed, had 12 receptions for 188 yards, and one carry for seven yards.
He finished with 195 yards from scrimmage on 13 touches.
The Dolphins (5-3) had 489 yards from scrimmage.
Hill was 40% of the Dolphins offense.
Without Hill, a seldom-seen combination of speed, hands, and route-running who has made the Pro Bowl in each of his previous six NFL seasons, the Dolphins are an easy-to-defend, pedestrian group.
You could argue there’s nothing to fear about the Dolphins offense without Hill, who is undoubtedly the team’s MVP.
It’s not just his on-field performance, it’s also his off-field leadership, the way he tutors the younger wide receivers and sets examples in practice and the film room.
Wide receivers coach Wes Welker said everything is a competition with Hill, and he meant that in a good way.
“He’s exceeded our expectations and what he brings to our team, the energy and the playmaking ability and all those different things,” Welker said last week. “I can’t say enough good things.”
Hill sets a positive, hard-working example for the entire team.
“Every chance I get to step on the field, even if it’s practice, walk-through [practice], whatever the case,” Hill said after the Lions game, “I’m going 110 miles per hour.”
Here’s a sample of what Hill did Sunday:
* 42-yard reception to the Detroit 33-yard line in the second quarter on first-and-10;
* 36-yard reception to the Detroit 23-yard line in the first quarter on third-and-13;
* 24-yard reception to the Dolphins’ 44-yard line in the first quarter on first-and-10;
* 19-yard reception to the Detroit 34-yard line in the fourth quarter on first-and-10;
* 18-yard reception to the Detroit 29-yard line in the second quarter on first-and-10;
* 17-yard reception to the Detroit 23-yard line in the third quarter on second-and-5.
That’s a big play in every quarter, on all three downs, in a variety of field positions and situations.
He went up high to snatch that 42-yard reception out of the air and absorbed a big hit after the catch. No big deal. He bounced up and was ready to play another down.
He had more than 10 receptions and 150 yards receiving in three of his first six games with the Dolphins, the first time in NFL history anyone had accomplished that feat in their first six games with a team.
He had 11 receptions for 190 yards at Baltimore, 10 receptions for 160 yards at Cincinnati, and 12 receptions for 177 yards against Minnesota.
But after just eight games in a Dolphins uniform we’re so used to seeing Hill do special things, he’s not even the main postgame topic of conversation following that dazzling performance at Detroit.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa might get more conversation. He was fantastic while going 29 for 36 for 381 yards, three touchdowns and a 138.7 passer rating.
The defense, which shut out Detroit in the second half, and specifically the injury-riddled secondary, which was dealing with the loss of safety Brandon Jones (knee), might get more conversation.
Heck, things such as penalties (seven for 55 yards), wide receiver Jaylen Waddle’s two touchdowns and his two ensuing Waddles (his touchdown celebration), and tight end Mike Gesicki recording a touchdown and retiring the “Griddy” (his, ahem, highly-publicized touchdown celebration) might get more conversation than Hill.
He entered the game as the NFL’s leading receiver with a league-best 773 yards on a league-best 57 receptions (13.6 yards per reception).
He had a league-best 110.4 yards per game receiving yards average.
His 270 yards after the catch) were 10th-best in the NFL.
His 34 receiving first downs were second in the league.
Since Hill entered the league in 2016, no one has more 50-plus-yard receptions than his 16. He’s added two more already this season.
The guy is a force.
And if he stays with the Dolphins long enough, he might force his way onto one of the franchise’s most elite lists. He’s already well on the way.