It is safe to call the Dolphins 2012 season a rebuilding year or I suppose bridge year (however, bridge year would lead you to believe there were successful seasons preceding this one). A team facing a rookie QB starting every game under center and a rookie head coach trying to make his mark in the NFL
One thing was very clear entering the season; the Dolphins had a terrible receiving core. The signing of Chad Johnson in the off-season was a small uplift right until he couldn’t hold onto any passes in the preseason and ultimately was cut from the team whether for on field or off field issues.
The only two receivers anybody knew by name on the team were Brian Hartline and Davone Bess. Hartline missed the entire preseason due to injury and subsequent illness and no one knew for sure if he would even be back to play. There was some early speculation that Hartline wouldn’t fit into Joe Philbin’s plans having been out so long.
Over the previous 4 seasons Davone Bess has been one of the most dependable weapons for the Dolphins offense moving through numerous different quarterbacks. Having played all 16 games in each season he averaged 65 receptions while being targeted 99 times. Bess has averaged 667.25 yards and just fewer than 3 touchdowns from 2008-2011.
While never being part of an explosive offense or playing under the guidance of a seasoned veteran quarterback, Bess has done a nice job establishing himself as a reliable slot receiver in the NFL. Never quite Wes Welker or Victor Cruz, but then again besides those two not many are.
For 2012 the eyeball test would lead you to believe Bess had a down year. Watching game to game he never did much to break out or define himself during any of the games, but still stayed on track with his previous stats.
Bess played in 13 games this season in which he caught 61 receptions out of 104 targets for 778 yards and 1 touchdown. His lowest TD total since 2008, but did have his highest average per catch in his career at 12.1 yards per reception.
One thing noticeably absent for Bess this season was return yards. For 2012 Bess only had 4 attempts for 30 yards on punt returns and 0 for kickoff returns. In previous years Bess has averaged 27.75 punt returns but was not the man in the backfield waiting this year. This is not a knock on Bess. It was obviously a choice either by the coaching staff or a collective agreement between Bess and the coaches that we may just not know.
In 2012 Davone Bess ranked #46 in receiving yards and #44 in receptions for all of the NFL. This translates to Bess being a middle of the pack receiver with dwindling potential. Most had hoped this would be the breakout year for Bess. With a fresh rookie quarterback with the ability to throw on target it was thought that Bess would be utilized in a wider role this season.
Brian Hartline was that player this year that had the breakout everyone had prayed someone on the Dolphins would do. Hartline led the team in receptions, targets, and yards.
Bottom line for Davone Bess is that he caught 59% of the passes thrown to him, but could not get the big break he needed to extend a play for some serious yards. He could not get enough room and attention in the end zone to make him a scoring threat and stayed on par as reliable but not threatening.
The final grade for Davone Bess through 2012 with the season people had hoped he would have is a B-.