Jaylen Waddle falls short in stepping up as Dolphins' top receiver

Jaylen Waddle has been something of a disappointment this year for the Miami Dolphins.

Tennessee Titans v Miami Dolphins
Tennessee Titans v Miami Dolphins / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Monday night against the Tennessee Titans Tyreek Hill went down in the first quarter with an ankle injury.  After his injury, the Dolphins offense and Tua seemed to struggle.  They struggled to throw the ball and other than a few good plays to Cedrick Wilson the passing game was inept. 

They tried to get De’Von Achane the ball in open space and narrowly missed him on a deep ball that could have solidified the win for the Dolphins. But he’s not the guy who should be answering the call when Tyreek goes down.  It has to be Jaylen Waddle.

Jaylen Waddle was the Dolphin's number one receiver as a rookie.  He broke the record for catches in a season by a rookie receiver with 104.  He turned around in his sophomore season and had 18.1 yards per catch to lead the NFL in the category.  This guy was drafted in the first round and has shown himself as an elite pass catcher with his hands and big play ability. 

He’s one of the fastest receivers in the NFL and has shown that he has elite hands catching 104 passes as a rookie. But where was he on Monday night and where have the big plays been this year?

Right now he's caught 63 passes for 822 yards and 3 touchdowns.  These are fine numbers through 12 games and put him on pace for 89 catches.  He’s also on pace for 1,164 receiving yards which would be his third consecutive1,000 yard season.  But Tyreek went out and Waddle had a whole 6 catches for 79 yards.  

On most days he’s the number two option behind Tyreek because Tyreek is arguably the best receiver in the NFL, but Tyreek went down.  Someone needed to step up, and he was nowhere. This is a guy who could be a number one receiver for at least half of the teams in the NFL.

This isn’t entirely his fault as Tua has sometimes defaulted to throw at Tyreek even when Waddle is open.  Again, that’s fine, Tyreek is Tyreek.  But when Tyreek goes down we need Waddle to show up.  We needed the type of game that Hopkins had for Tennessee, exposing our corners.  If Tyreek goes on to miss a game or two we need Waddle to step up.  

He’s an elite talent, but he hasn’t shown himself to be that “Alpha” type of player.  He needs to demand the ball when Tyreek isn’t on the field.  The offense should immediately go from running through Tyreek, to running through Waddle, because if Miami wants to go on a deep playoff run they’re going to need as many dawgs as they can get.