Motivation should not be a problem the last two weeks for Dolphins players. Not after coach Adam Gase put them on notice.
“They’re playing for their jobs,” Gase told reporters Monday.
But fear is not the only motivation, particularly for professional athletes.
Pride is another.
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Fame is a third.
That’s why, for a number of Dolphins players, there’s plenty to play for against the Chiefs and Bills — even though the playoffs are the longest of shots.
Personal, team and league records are all in play.
▪ Jarvis Landry: Want to know why the Dolphins will make every effort to re-sign Landry this offseason? He has had the most prolific first four seasons in NFL history, at least when it comes to receptions.
Landry broke Anquan Boldin’s NFL record for most catches in first four seasons (342) in November, and has since obliterated it. Landry has 386 receptions in his career, and with two games to go this season, an even 400 is in reach.
So are two other Dolphins records: Most catches in a season (110, set by Landry in 2015) and most consecutive seasons with 1,000 or more receiving yards (two, shared by six players: Landry, Mark Clayton, Mark Duper, Irving Fryar, Brian Hartline and Brandon Marshall).
Through 14 games, Landry has 98 catches for 844 yards. He also has a career-high eight touchdowns.
As for the team’s career receptions record? Assuming he re-signs and stays healthy, Landry should take ownership of that in the 2019 season. Mark Clayton caught a franchise-best 550 passes between 1983 and 1992. If Landry plays his entire career in Miami, he probably will set a new record that may never be broken.
▪ Cody Parkey: If the Pro Bowl was merit-based and not a popularity contest, it would be hard to keep Parkey out.
The fourth-year kicker has been everything the Dolphins hoped he would be when they plucked him off waivers in September.
Parkey has made 18 of 19 field goals, including an impressive 6 of 7 from 40 or more yards. He has done it in every environment imaginable, including the cold wind of Western New York on Sunday. He knocked through a 41-yarder Sunday even though the Bills’ big-screen operator put up an image of a flag blowing in a stiff wind — a clear attempt to get in Parkey’s head.
The team record Parkey is chasing? Most accurate kicker in a season. He’s currently at 94.7 percent and on pace to break Jay Feely’s record (91.3 percent, set in 2007). Parkey probably cannot afford a miss the rest of the way. Connecting on four of five attempts would get the job done, but it’s unclear whether he would get that many opportunities.
Back to the Pro Bowl talk: Parkey is the AFC’s most accurate kicker, but his low number of attempts and even lower name recognition could keep him out. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski led all AFC kickers with 153,573 fan votes, which is one-third of the formula used to pick the teams.
▪ Cameron Wake: The ageless pass rusher picked up his ninth sack of the season Sunday. One more will give him 10 or more for the fifth time. That’s impressive. This is even more so: He would become the 11th player in NFL history to record 10 sacks at age 35 or older, and just the third in the past 15 years (John Abraham and Julius Peppers were the others).
Wake expects to keep playing for some time (he is under contract through 2018), so 100 sacks for his career is a real possibility; he has 90 1/2. As for the team record (Jason Taylor, 131)? Wake would probably need to play at a high level through age 40 to get there.
▪ Other Dolphins benchmarks in play: Sixteen starts for Mike Pouncey for the first time since 2012; 1,000 receiving yards for Kenny Stills (he’s at 759); 1,000 all-purpose yards for Kenyan Drake (736); and personal bests for DeVante Parker (he’s 10 catches and 201 receiving yards shy of his NFL bests).