During the 2014 season, the Miami Dolphins wide receiver unit clearly wasn’t cohesive nor did it work well within the offense. Following the season, the front office moved swiftly, releasing Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson while trading away Mike Wallace. They then traded for Kenny Stills, signed Greg Jennings, and drafted DeVante Parker in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The only holdovers from 2014? Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews, and Matt Hazel.
Now, with a revamped group that better fits the offensive philosophy, things are looking up for the wide receiver unit, and head coach Joe Philbin didn’t hold back when talking about how excited he was while also seemingly taking shots at receivers he had in 2014.
“We’ve got some new guys, so we’re getting them adjusted as quickly as we possibly can. They don’t necessarily have preconceived notions of, I’m a this, or I’m a that. What we’re really doing is, installing concepts offensively as we are on defense and special teams and we want to expose guys to different things. That’s one of the major focuses that we have. We talked about, we met at length as an offensive staff last week, and we talked and said okay, these guys, let’s get some of these guys some reps at this position and not get locked in, so if one injury occurs we’re all not of the sudden reinventing the wheel so to speak.”
One big addition is Jennings, and while he may not necessarily produce a ton off the field, there has been a lot of chatter of what he can bring to the young receivers both on and off the field.
“He catches the ball, I know this sounds elementary, but he catches the ball with his hands very well, I think he does that well,” said Philbin. “He’s a good route runner, crisp. He knows how to come in and out of his breaks well. I think he’s been a quarterback-friendly type of receiver throughout the course of his career. I think the quarterbacks have faith, and I think it’s going to take us time here as we get rolling, but he’s a guy that ends up doing the right things versus different coverages, a play gets extended, he has that good instinct and savvy.”
Bill Lazor, offensive coordinator, also had great things to say about Jennings but also noted that everyone, including the young guys, will have input in the meeting rooms, and they will all feed off each other to be the best they can possibly be.
“We’ve done it different places with all different kinds of guys and I guess as a coach, the approach I take is, okay, here is day one, here is what we’ve got, and it’s my job to make it work. I think the quarterback looks at it that same way. I don’t think of it in a comparison way. The way I think of it is, what I’ve asked them to do, Greg Jennings can attest to this, Kenny Stills can attest to this as they joined us and I had the chance to sit down and talk to them, I said look, what I need you to do is every day walk in the building with the assumption that I’m going to do everything I can to be the best I can be and understand we all have to do it together. It’s really not that complicated. There are a lot of schemes and things that are complicated at times, but as far as the attitude when you walk in the building, I’m trying to get them all to be that way, that’s how I try to live my life. Hopefully they can feel that from me. So you stand up there and ask their opinions. When a guy like Greg Jennings walks into the room, I’ll expect that he’ll have some opinion, I’ll expect that he’ll be able to draw from his experience facing cover three corners, press corners, big corners, combo teams. That’s part of the deal in this league. That’s why you enjoy coaching adults, guys who are experienced.”
At the end of the day, the receivers the Dolphins have now are better on paper than the ones in 2014. We’ll see if it can translate to the field when the games begin but all indications are is that there will be no problem making that happen.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs
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