The Miami Dolphins have a few above-average options who can be their return guy this season that are very interesting.
I know that at this current juncture of the offseason this question has as much of a chance of being answered as what really landed in Roswell (it was aliens) but I was thinking about it.
The return game is one of those things that nobody really pays attention to until a huge play gets made that goes in your favor or the guy who is returning the ball fumbles it. Every other play pretty much gets chalked up to “well okay, glad you didn’t mess anything up. Now let’s get the offense in gear.”
But to believe that the return game isn’t something that requires maximum effort and diligence is beyond naive. Every team including the Miami Dolphins has been on both sides of a return that won or lost a game. So getting the right guy back there who is reliable, does his job, and can possibly change the direction of a game is quite important. I realize this isn’t breaking news but it still needed to be said.
Last year we had a few guys take back kicks and punts. Jaylen Waddle, Jevon Holland, Jakeem Grant, Tommy Lee Lewis, Phillip Lindsay, Albert Wilson, Myles Gaskin, and Noah Igbinoghene returned a punt or a kick at some point last year. Feel free to let me know if I missed someone.
Looking at that list and even though there are a few guys that are more than capable to do it, I don’t want them to do it. I don’t think I’m saying anything too wild when I say I don’t want Jaylen Waddle or Jevon Holland ever returning kicks unless it’s a huge moment in a big game and Waddle goes back there for a punt return. Other than that, he should be nowhere near a return.
I’m not too keen on having starters being the return guy. So unless the game is in one of those unique moments where the team absolutely needs a big play out of the return team, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and for now Chase Edmonds should not even be in the plans for being the returner. We saw what happened to Preston Williams when he was on the rise. I’ll always contend that is what truly derailed him and I won’t be convinced otherwise.
That leaves Iggy and Gaskin. Honestly, I don’t love either of those prospects at being the punt returner. I don’t trust Iggy with the ball in his hands and I simply don’t think Myles Gaskin is built for that spot. He goes down way too easily and doesn’t have that quick-twitch first step that I want out of my returner. Yes, I know that your return guy isn’t going to be a Derrick Henry type of specimen, but I simply don’t love Gaskin back there.
The Miami Dolphins ranked 30th in punt return average and 31st in kick return average. Saying the Miami Dolphins could use an upgrade or more of a focus on that element of the game is like saying an alien craft landed in Rendlesham England Air Force Base in1980. We already know this.
Some of these guys on this list may not even make the final roster. Being the return man might be the only reason they make the team. I’m fine with that. If the coaches have to teach a guy or two to be a returner because they’ve never done it, I’m also fine with that. If Christian Wilkins can be put in NFL games at fullback and score multiple touchdowns, then receivers or running backs can learn how to field a kick.
I do however have a list of guys I do hope get an opportunity to be the return guy. Also, it needs to be said that as I’m writing this I’m nearly solely thinking about this question from a punt return standpoint. Most kickoffs are touchbacks but I would like to have the same returner for both punt and kick return if possible. On to the list.