Yes, it’s OTA’s and has no meaning outside of off-season work. Yet for some reason, it has Joe Philbin publicly saying that the drops by his receivers are a concern. Yes, it’s only OTA’s and has no meaning outside of off-season work.
Or does it?
Running the wrong routes when learning a new playbook? Sure, completely understandable and acceptable. Miscommunication between the receiver and the quarterback? Sure, absolutely expected. Drops? Not acceptable and the fact that they are occurring speaks to a problem that needs to be fixed before training camp arrives in late July early August…which by the way is two months away.
Davone Bess has good hands. He is reliable and as a slot receiver should play a big role in this new “West Coast” scheme. Brian Hartline has great hands and an ability to make the tough catches but Hartline is on the sideline and that will have an impact if his injury proves serious. After that, there is what? Newly acquired Chad Ochocinco?
The reality is that the team has a bad case of the drops and in this style of offense, catching passes is more important than how a running back attacks the holes between the tackles. It is the essence of the scheme. It’s how you move the ball down-field and score points. You can’t do that if the players you have on the field can’t actually catch the passes thrown to them.
The onus of improvement falls on the shoulders of Clyde Gates who needs to do more than simply showcase speed. Ted Ginn had all the speed in the world and we saw first hand what it meant to be wide-open and not be able to catch a football. At least Gates doesn’t run to the sideline…yet. Marlon Moore and Roberto Wallace have been hanging around Miami for the last three seasons but neither have made an impact on the field. Let’s face it, it’s not like they have this formidable group in front of them holding them back.
It will be a long season that will not find fans forgiving if training camp rolls around and we are treated to HBO Hard Knocks’ showcase of wide-outs dropping catchable footballs in open spaces. Forget about the routes and the open hinges, curl routes, and deep fly routes, if the ball hits the receiver in the hands or chest and then hits the ground, there will be problems.
I realize that this is OTA’s but a problem with simply catching the ball is cause for concern and obviously a cause of contention for the head coach when he feels the need to expose that to the media. To what degree the receivers are failing in their attempts to bring the ball into control is unknown outside of the perception of those who have witnessed it first hand. Come training camp, we will all get the chance to witness it. The question is whether this is simply a matter of acclimation to QB’s and system changes or a deeper issue that may not get resolved quick enough. Are the guilty WR’s simply concentrating too hard on the reads and other intricacies of the new offense and failing to simply concentrate on the most fundamental aspect of play or are they having a hard time adjusting to the speed at which the ball is now arriving from the QB’s given the timing of the plays?
It is of course unknown but something that hopefully time will fix sooner rather than later. In the meantime, it’s something worth noting as a possible problem that the HC is aware of and will need to fix.