Dolphins DeVante Parker shows why he should play


The Miami Dolphins didn’t get statistical success from DeVante Parker but they got proof he needs to be on the field a whole lot more.

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With the Dolphins and Raven deeply entrenched in a boring contest of near meaningless football, DeVante Parker rose, literally to the occasion to bring in a leaping touchdown grab on Sunday. Two things stood out on the play. One, it was a perfectly thrown 38 yard touchdown pass and two, Parker has good hands when he maintains his concentration.

The play was set up by a Jordan Phillips tip of a Matt Schaub pass that dropped into the waiting arms of Reshad Jones. The next play, the Dolphins ran a simple play-action pass that Tannehill rifled to the goal line. Parker leapt into the air, over the defender, to haul in the pass for his second touchdown in as many games.

What makes this play interesting, and likely makes it work, is the fact Miami was able to establish a running game early on. The committment Miami made to run the ball allowed Tannehill the time in the pocket to make the throw. Baltimore defenders along the line of scrimmage bit on the play-action. Two defenders ran to the Dolphins left after Lamar Miller but by the time the defenders on the right realized it wasn’t a run, Tannehill had already released the football.

Who would have thought?

Parker, on the season, has spent much of his time standing on the sidelines. He battled an injured foot in training camp, missing all but one of the pre-season. Parker has appeared in all but two of the Dolphins games this season but you wouldn’t know it. When not standing on the sidelines, he typically wasn’t targeted on the field.

Parker registered his first reception in week two against the Jaguars. It was a three yard reception. In week three he caught three passes for 46 yards with a long of 19 yards. He averaged over 15 yards per reception. Albeit his receptions came late in the game when Buffalo already secured a victory.

Parker showed then he was capable of making plays. Yet following the Bills game, Parker didn’t see another reception until week 12. Following the injury to Rishard Matthews, Parker caught 4 passes for 80 yards averaging 20 yards per reception. He also added a 33 yard touchdown. His first in the NFL.

On Sunday, Matthews again was inactive but Parker cured his drop issues from a week before and caught three of Ryan Tannehill’s nine completions.

Parker isn’t ready to be called a franchise receiver yet. Far from it. He is however showing why he needs to be on the field more often. And involved. Parker needs reps in-game. He still has struggles with running certain routes and he needs to work on getting separation from defenders. That can’t be taught in two practices a week with no contact. He needs game experience and there is no reason he shouldn’t see it in the last four weeks.

Matthews will likely be back next week or the week after and while he has steadily shown he is capable of playing in the NFL, he is not the team’s future on the outside. Parker is. Miami is not going to release Kenny Stills this off-season but free agent to be Matthews may not be back. This is an opportunity for the Dolphins to get their first round draft pick all the work he needs heading into the off-season and eventually the 2016 season.

Using Parker is not giving up, in fact it’s quite the contrary. With Parker on the field, Miami has a legit weapon that can catch passes over the middle, on the outside, slant routes, and as we have seen two weeks in a row now, deeper passes.

It’s easy to point at Parker and say get him more playing time but not lost in the last two weeks is the fact that Tannehill has been able to connect with him. Tannehill has improved incredibly on his deep throw accuracy and the Dolphins need to continue using those types of plays to compliment the running game Dan Campbell swears he is trying to establish. Yesterday was not a good day for the Miami quarterback who completed less than 50% of his passes. As a whole, the Dolphins offense was once again anemic.

Miami’s committment to the running game netted them over 100 yards on the ground, 113 by Lamar Miller alone. Miami ran the ball 25 times and threw the ball 19. That’s the balance Miami has been stressing they need. They also need to start scoring more points.

Once again the Dolphins failed to score more than 20 points in a game. They have only done it twice all season. This is where Parker could change things. More playing time, more targets, and maybe Miami finds that the offense can click.

DeVante Parker is supposed to be a playmaker. He has made plays the last two weeks. A playmaker can’t make plays sitting on the sideline.