Dolphins Defense Smothers Tight Ends

 

Sep 22, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) is tackled by Miami Dolphins outside linebacker Philip Wheeler (52) in the first quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins have seemingly had more issues with defending Tight Ends than any other position over the past several years.  The evolution of the tight end position has contributed to this fact, but it also still speaks to the fact that they haven’t been able to scheme effectively or cover the tight ends with their talent they’ve had on the roster – or some combination there-in.  If you listened to the announcers on Sunday, or only watched the initial Falcons drive of the game, you’d be inclined to agree.  Tony Gonzalez looked to possibly be on pace for a career day against the Dolphins, as he started the first series with 4 catches and 24 yards.  Make no mistake, Tony Gonzalez is still one of the best tight ends in football even at his age (37) suggests he should be ready for an NFL retirement home here in his 17th NFL season.

Lost amid the shuffle after Sunday’s game, the Dolphins nearly shut down the tight end position from there on out, even with the numerous injuries on defense.  Watching the game and listening to the announcers, they spoke several times in the second half about how Tony Gonzalez dominated in the first half.  What were his final first half stats?  He still sat at 4 catches for 24 yards.  Levine Toilolo added 1 reception from the tight end position, with a 2 yard touchdown in the 3rd quarter.  Outside of that single catch by Toilolo, the tight end position was shut out after the first Falcons series of the game, leaving the final stat line for Tony & Co at tight end on the day at 5 catches, 26 yards, 1 Touchdown.  That’s it.

Looking at the stat lines, here are a few Dolphins players that also must have dominated when compared to the “dominant” performance by Tony Gonzalez:

  • Brian Hartline – 4 catches, 56 yards, 1 TD
  • Brandon Gibson – 6 catches, 49 yards
  • Charles Clay – 4 catches, 40 yards
  • Rishard Matthews – 4 catches, 42 yards

In addition to this, Mike Wallace only needed to catch two passes to nearly pass the level of dominance that Tony Gonzalez showed, as his two catches went for 22 yards.

I may be a little facetious here, but it’s only because the Dolphins quietly did something they have struggled with for a while – shutting down the tight end.  Not only did they shut down the tight end, but they did it by making adjustments while not at full strength, against one of the best in the game.  They’ll need to step their game up on this front with the seemingly unstoppable Jimmy Graham coming to town, but this performance indicates a strong step forward for this defense.  Graham will most likely put up better stat lines on the national stage, but amid that we shouldn’t lose the fact that Miami took a strong step forward in an area they’ve been lacking in this past weekend.  Strong play from Reshad Jones and our remade linebacker corps will be needed on Jimmy Graham to keep New Orleans offense in some form of check.

Fins up!

Topics: Miami Dolphins

Want more from Phin Phanatic?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.
  • tpl

    The defense played much better in the second half. Miami will definitely need to play its best game against the saints. But it was a good game. Sims with the game winning one handed grab in the end zone, Rishard Matthews had 4 receptions. Egnew had one I believe. But indications look like neither Patterson, Davis, and Taylor will be ready to play against the Saints. I hope I am wrong though.

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      I agree… I also need to find out misi’s status for the game… The scariest thing to me is Graham, so let’s hope the dolphins can cover him the way they did Gonzalez

      That said, the saints… In particular their pass rush… Scare me like no other team on the schedule

  • Steve Shephard

    Paul its nice to see another life long fan ….this team seems to have a different feel to it…..we are finishing games we wouldnt have finished in the past……I believe in Ryan we finally have our replacement for Dan and since the Don we finally have a great coach yes its early but he seems totally legit……and for all the Ireland bashers ,the need to be finally silenced…….Jeff has done an outstanding job both with the drafting and the free agent acquisitions this team needs a couple more pieces but we very realistically a year er two within striking distance ………IMHO…..

    • Paul L. Picken, Jr

      Thanks, Steve! I agree… The fins should be a year or two removed from the Super Bowl, but are within striking distance. I won’t anoint Tannehill as the next Marino, or philbin the next Shula, but I’m very happy with them and with Ireland. Keep reading, and I always welcome feedback.