Dolphins Will Upgrade The Tight End Position

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?

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Tags: Anthony Fasano Dwayne Allen Green Bay Packers Jermichael Finley Miami Dolphins

  • drumzan

    I say go for it. But Finley ain’t gonna be cheap. If Dwayne Allen is still available by the 8/9 pick in the second round, the Phins might go for him. “might”

  • RoJo1386

    @dolphinsbuzztap Couldn’t disagree more with this, lets look at Fasano’s stats when the Dolphins began to play well and had a running game.

  • Southbeach

    Gotta find a better topic to write about, as this is silly. Fasano catches 71% of balls thrown his way, with 1 drop on balls thrown his way by a career backup, and is a VG blocker.

    Finley catches 60 %, dropped 12 from a HOFer, and cannot block worth a damn.

    With GLARING needs elsewher, Yo want to change one where we are in good shape with Fasano and Clay.


  • snatchos

    Actually I put Fasano’s rec/target at 59% (32/54 based on ESPN stats). Either way, Southbeach is 100% correct.

    Fasano’s Yards/Rec is 14.1 (4th), his TD/Rec is 15.6% (T-4th), 78% of his receptions are for first down (3rd), and 38% of his receptions are for 20+ yards (1st).

    You take Tony’s production to the NE offense (with the 2 TEs average 119 targets for the season) and he produces the following:

    70 catches for 990 yards and 11 TDs!

    So this idea of “upgrading” the TE position is moot. More depth? Sure, but Tony produces.

  • Mattpatrick5

    @Southbeach Wow, I must be crazy to want Jermichael Finley over Anthony Fasano. In my opinion, Finley can make this offense more explosive. If we want to compete with New England, we need to figure out how to consistently put up at least 30 points per game. Finley creates mismatches and he is a very athletic TE. If we have the option to get him, I think we should.

  • Lespaul

    Unfortunately I don’t see fault in your assessment of the changing tide of the NFL. It’s a business and putting butts in the seats and selling jerseys is still the name of the game. I wish it were true that a stellar defense and mediocre offense could still win a super bowl, but as you mentioned, the rules favor the offense….points equals butts in the seats. It’s disturbing to me, however, as I played defensive back collegiately with very laxed rules on punishing QBs as well as receivers. Football is no longer a game for the hard hitting and more a game for the high wire catches and 50 yard bombs. At least that’s what all the top ten plays of the week will state. As for Fasano….he is just fine, but lacks the speed of the elite TE’s mentioned above. Fasano suffered from poor play calling, bad offensive line that needed him to block rather than run routes and Matt Moore who didn’t seem to think Fasano existed.

  • Lespaul

    Sorry, should have also stated that I don’t disagree that upgrading is still an ideal endevour. Two awesome TE’s would be a linebackers nightmare…..just ask the Dolphins each time they play the Patriots.

  • Southbeach

    @Mattpatrick5 I’m tired of defending Fasano and his value to this team. He has done nothing but good for them , and deserves the the respect he has EARNED. Put him in GB and he likely puts up Finley type numbers, while being able to block. We have more pressing needs to throw multi-millions at

  • Southbeach

    @snatchos PFF has Fasano catching 32 of 45, which I am almost certain is correct. He did the same in 2010 catching 39 of 55, with 2 drops to go with 1 last year. All he does is produce with many fans questioning his ability.

  • Southbeach

    F @Lespaul Fasano does lack elite speed but, somehow manages to average more yards per catch than those who have it. I’ll take the production over what a stop watch says.

  • Southbeach

    @Lespaul Does Clay count? And Mastrud did a top 5 job in blocking. I’m looking to improve our team where we need it, at QB, secondary and RT.

  • Michael Rosenbloom

    The argument here isn’t who is better. Finley is obviously more athletically gifted than Fasano is, but the bottom line is Fasano has been more consistant. The problem is, the Dolphins have never utlized Fasano correctly and you saw towards the end of year when the Dolphins were using him more, they were scoring more points. Fasano can play a Jake Ballard-type role in Miami, but if the Dolphins are looking for a stud like Graham, then obviously you need to look elsewhere. By the way, Green Bay is not giving Finley up. No way.

  • Mattpatrick5

    @Michael Rosenbloom I especially like Finley in Red Zone situations. His size and athleticism could benefit us in that part of the field. Miami finished the season with the 24th ranked Red Zone Offense for scoring TDs. This has to improve next year! In these situations in my opinion, Finley is better than Fasano and he could help us score more TDs vs. fist pumping field goals. The next head coach will need to figure out how we can put up 30+ points per game or we will continue to play for second place behind the Pats.

  • Lespaul

    @Southbeach@Lespaul yeah, Clay sure seems to have some speed for a big guy. I think they started to use him a bit more later in the year as he became more comfortable with the offense. The Patriots are a fun bunch to watch. they really know how to use the talent they have and in the past two years its been the TE’s. Aside from Welker, the receivers for New England were not as explosive as in the past. However, scheming with the TE’s has been brilliant. it’s been fun and frustrating to watch all at the same time. I think it’s the wave of the future….most teams think run or short out route when you see double TE’s. New England would run a delayed seam route and just blow by the safety’s on their way to a big play with a TE.

  • Lespaul

    @Southbeach Hey, i hear ya….just toss the ball to him a bit more.

  • Southbeach

    @Mattpatrick5@Michael Don’t put our lack of TD’s on Fasano. He had 5 scores to Finley’s 8, and common sense would dictate Finley had many more chances. Hell, IF we would have thrown him the FRACKIN ball in place of Marshall’s dropped 7 TD’s, I am sure he would have caught at least 5 of them.

  • Southbeach

    @Lespaul When you look at average yards per catch, the slow not athletic SOB is #4 in the NFL behind Ballard, J Cook from Tenn, and Gronk from the Pats. What the hell are the speedy, athletic TE’s doing with their talent? :)

  • Southbeach

    @Lespaul Agreed. The Pats are going inside out with no speed at WR, while everyone else is going outside in. GREAT move to change the scheme of things based on available talent. You should stop by the forum to exchange views. JMO

  • Southbeach

    @Michael Rosenbloom I don’t see where upgrading TE is very high on my To Do list in making the team better. It may be dead last.

  • Mattpatrick5

    @Southbeach @Lespaul I’m a Fasano fan and he has done some great things for this organization. But on third and goal from the seven yard line, I will take Finley over Fasano any day of the week. Just think back this year with all of those third and goals we couldn’t convert. You need an excel spreadsheet to keep track….Regardless, It would have been nice to have Finley in those situations.

  • Lespaul

    @Southbeach@Lespaul sure, I think you will see the top TE’s scoring more TD’s because they get targeted more than in Miami’s offensive schemes. This O-line has to get fixed so any Miami TE can be used as a weapon rather than pass protection.

  • Dansama

    But last draft the biggest needs were TE, Safety & QB and we got Clay who was a RB/TE it didnt seem like he had much impact, with a full off season and a first season out of the way maybe he’ll be better, but I remember being bummed we didnt pick up Greg Olsen from the Bears, stupid release by the Bears, and he definitely helped the Carolina offense.

    If the Phins dont get Luck or Richards or one of the other QBs in the draft, I hope they grab Flynn from Green Bay, but as a long suffering Dolphins fan, I expect they will start Moore with Henne as backup and McNabb as the mid season replacement

  • Lespaul

    @Southbeach Which forums you talking about? Wouldn’t mind talking more football….