Written by Matthew Cannata at 3:50 PM EST | Twitter: @PhinManiacs
Brian Hartline has been having an off-year and no one really knows why. So far, he has caught 20 receptions for 215 yards and 1 touchdown. In comparison, he had 74 catches in 2012 for 1,083 yards and 76 receptions for 1,016 yards in 2013.
Of course, simple math shows that he is projected to be nowhere near close to those numbers in 2014. With that in mind, the coaching staff is trying to figure out how to get him involved in the flow of the game but hinted that there might be more to it than lack of opportunities.
“I communicate with guys all of the time. I was communicating with him out there today on the practice field,” Joe Philbin said. “He’s a pro and he continues to come out here and works hard every day. I’m sure his contributions, his opportunities, they’re going to come his way and he’ll maximize them.”
Some have said that Bill Lazor’s offensive system has hurt Hartline because in the past, Ryan Tannehill has always locked in on him and has forced him the ball throughout the game. However, as we saw in the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he had two drops in key situations. The opportunities are there but Hartline isn’t capitalizing on them.
“I think Brian is a guy that is used to having a lot of production and he wants to contribute. He has confidence in himself and his ability to contribute and I have confidence in him,” Lazor said. “It’s a long season, so sometimes you go through little waves, up and down. If he’s frustrated with certain things right now, I have pretty good confidence that he’ll be able to channel that into being more productive. I think people around here have known Brian long enough. I don’t know if we have a harder worker on the field, at least in my history of football that’s the most important thing that will translate into production. I think it will show up.”
There have been rumblings about getting Rishard Matthews and Brandon Gibson more playing time in the offense in place of Hartline so it will be interesting to see if that comes into play on Sunday. With an ineffective number two receiver becoming an effective one, it could help improve the offense and get them out of their stagnant state.