Before I start this article, I just want to make it clear that I am a fan of Miami Dolphins’ TE, Anthony Fasano, and I sincerely appreciate all that he has done for this organization. He is a class act and a true “team player.” Dolfans will never forget how well he played during the second half of that 2008 season where he was a major reason why the Dolphins won the AFC East and went on to the playoffs. However, in my opinion, I think the Dolphins need a facelift at the tight end position and it’s time to cut ties with Fasano.
Defense no longer wins Championships. As all of you know, the rules have significantly changed to benefit those teams with offensive talent. It’s funny how The Great Dan Marino passing record of 5,084 yards can stand for 27 years, and then all of a sudden two QBs, Drew Brees and Tom Brady, in the same year surpass it. Matthew Stafford was just 47 yards shy of breaking the record himself. Weird….
If you so much as breathe on a quarterback or cough near a wide receiver as he runs down the sideline, a flag will be thrown and an automatic first down will be granted. Thus, offensive series are extended and high powered offenses now have more opportunities to score. Everyone knows the importance of having a tall, athletic, receiving tight end. The game has changed and this particular position has expanded tremendously to become more of a scoring threat. Is it a coincidence that the top four scoring teams in the NFL listed below also have stellar TEs?
1. Green Bay (35 Pts/G): Jermichael Finley 6’ 5”
2. New Orleans (34 Pts/G): Jimmy Graham 6’ 6”
3. New England (32Pts/G): Rob Gronkowski 6’ 6” & Aaron Hernandez 6′ 1″
4. Detroit (30 Pts/G): Brandon Pettigrew 6’ 5”
These guys are major contributors to the reason these teams score 30 or more points per game. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, they are ranked 20th in the league averaging just 20.6 points per game. It’s hard to take advantage of the new “Flag Football” rules of the NFL when the Dolphins currently have a middle-of-the-road TE. Don’t get me wrong, Fasano had some outstanding plays, making several one-handed circus catches this year. And for the most part, he did a pretty good job blocking. However, this doesn’t make up for his sub-par numbers on the season. Below is a breakdown of his stats as a TE:
Receptions = 32 (Ranked 29th)
Yards = 451 (Ranked 23rd)
TDs = 5 (Ranked 12th/ Tied with seven other players)
1st Down Receptions = 25 (Ranked 23rd/Tied with one other player)
I don’t want to come off as a “stat geek,” but the proof is in the pudding. If we settle for mediocre players, we will get mediocre production. That’s exactly what the Dolphins currently have at the tight end position. To be blunt, Fasano is an average player and his two backups, Jeron Mastrud and Will Yeatman, are practically wasting up roster spots. And trust me, the next head coach of this football team will notice this deficiency and will most certainly address it via the draft or free agency.
This year’s upcoming draftees actually represent a weak class for tight ends. In my opinion, there is only one player worth drafting at that position. That would be the Clemson Tiger, Dwayne Allen. He is the real deal and scouts claim he should be a complete tight end that will be a major red zone weapon in the NFL. Even with a below average QB, Allen caught 48 passes for 577 yards and eight TDs this past season. He was a key third down target and a great blocker in the ground game as well at Clemson.
As much as I like the potential of Dwayne Allen, it his highly doubtful the Dolphins draft him. Scouts predict he will be off the draft board between the late first and mid second round. With all of the other needs the Dolphins have to fill in this draft, they are not in position to go after a TE that early. But that’s perfectly ok, because there is a better option out there.
I know this will stir up some argument and debate among Dolfans, but Miami should consider going after Green Bay’s Jermichael Finley. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and in my opinion, he will be the best option. I’m tired of playing for second place behind New England in the AFC East every year.
If the Dolphins want to keep up with the Patriots and their 32 points per game, they desperately need a tall and athletic playmaker like Finley that can help open up the offense and be a huge target for our next QB. There is no debate about the Dolphins needing a facelift at the TE position and they will be looking to upgrade in the offseason. I gave you my opinion. Who do you want?