Miami Dolphins need to do much better from the tight-end spot
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins were supposed to have fixed the ailing tight-end position but so far this season, it has been disappointing.
Flashback to the 2018 NFL Draft and many Miami Dolphins fans were hoping for a top tight-end to join the club. They got their wish when is the 2nd round Miami selected Penn State standout Mike Gesicki. While Gesicki’s selection was met with some criticism by fans and media alike most thought this selection would really open the offense. It hasn’t.
The Dolphins tight-end production through 13 games has been basically nothing. Tight-end, especially Gesicki was supposed to open all the closed holes in the red-zone offense. To date the tight-ends have accounted for two touchdowns. One by A.J. Derby and one by Nick O’Leary.
If touchdowns were not bad enough, the group has only 31 total receptions. This according to ProFootballreferenc.com. Mike Gesicki actually leads the unit with 18 receptions for 156 yards. Hardly what fans and media expected from such a talented player.
To be fair, most rookie tight-ends do not perform anywhere near the expectations. Rookies at the position tend to struggle adjusting to the NFL defensive schemes. It is one of the hardest positions to learn at the NFL level.
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Visually many believe it is as simple as running a crisp route and getting coverage from a linebacker but tight-ends need to recognize defensive schemes to run their routes. They need to get off the line of scrimmage and in most cases their routes are timing routes.
Regardless the play of the tight-ends is far off from what was expected and continues to draw the ire of the media and fans who realize that this problem is costing the Dolphins momentum. Adding to the lack of production is situational play and poor line play that forces the Dolphins to keep their tight-end to block more than they would like.
There have been glimpses this season specifically at times with Gesicki and O’Leary. Miami is high on O’Leary so much so they gave him a one year extension for the 2019 season. Adam Gase is supposed to be an offensive mastermind who uses the tight-ends frequently in his offense but that has not been the case. Miami has targeted TE’s 45 times this year. This means that when a TE is targeted, they have only missed 14 passes on the season. Whether those are bad throws or drops, it still isn’t horrible.
With the Dolphins heading down the stretch they must do a better job of getting their tight-ends more involved in the plays. A tight-end is a perfect position for short yardage passes and first down pick-ups but the Dolphins can’t seem to get them in the right position to make plays. That needs to change.
While some want to call Gesicki a bust Gesicki is tied for 5th in the NFL overall for rookies this season. The league’s top reception holder for rookies at TE is 29. That belongs to the Jets Chris Herndon. Four players have more than 20 receptions with Mark Andrews and Dallas Goedert at 26 and 25 respectively. Gesicki drops to 7th when looking at the yards metric and drops much further in the average yards per catch. Gesicki averages only 8.7 yards per reception.
2019 will be an interesting season for the Dolphins in many ways but tight-end must improve on the field. The Dolphins have talent for a change but Gesicki has to improve greatly in blocking and become more productive in the passing game. Down the stretch it will be important to get the tight-ends more involved in the offense. It could be the difference between winning and losing.