It’s no secret that the weakest unit on the Miami Dolphins in 2012 was the wide receiver squad. With a severe lack of targets to throw to, Ryan Tannehill looked to Brian Hartline to step up and become the team’s number one receiver; luckily he did.
After missing most of the preseason due to a calf injury, questions surfaced about whether Hartline would be able to fit in with Joe Philbin’s new offense. Many also wondered if he would have enough time to build chemistry with his rookie quarterback. It didn’t take long for Brian Hartline to quell those doubters. Over the first three weeks of the season Hartline had racked up 202 yards. In week four against the Arizona Cardinals, Hartline had a career game, catching 12 passes for 253 yards (including an 80 yard TD pass).
Following his bust out game against the Cardinals it was apparent teams were game planning around Hartline, trying to get Tannehill to utilize his other receivers. Despite being the primary focus of most defenses the Dolphins faced, Hartline still achieved his first 1000 yard season.
The biggest blemish on Brian Hartline’s 2012 season was an obvious lack of touchdowns. There is no doubt that Hartline was Ryan Tannehill’s favorite target, but down near the goal line he was never a factor. His only receiving TD came on the 80 yard play in the Cardinal game. Hartline has an uncanny ability to get behind defenders, but in the end zone he seems to struggle to get open. As a team the Dolphins didn’t throw for many touchdowns, they could have benefited from integrating Hartline more in the redzone offense.
Hartline isn’t a big yard after catch receiver. He plays more as a sure handed, clutch receiver with deceptive speed that allows him to get open deep. He also has an uncanny ability to draw pass interference penalties on corner backs that try to cover him too physically. Often times this year it came down to a big reception by Hartline to keep a drive alive or extend the dolphins hopes of victory. Most times he delivered.
At the end of the day Hartline made the Miami Dolphins better. He was always able to make the dramatic catch, touch his toes on the sideline, or draw the big pass interference. I hope the dolphins resign him along with a player like Greg Jennings. It will be interesting to see what Hartline can do with an elite receiver opposite him catching passes.
Brian Hartline’s 2012 grade: -A