Written by Matthew Cannata | Twitter: @PhinManiacs
The wide receiver unit for the Miami Dolphins is one of the deepest in the league but they haven't all showed up over the past several weeks. On Sunday against the Denver Broncos, that changed when we saw guys fighting for the ball and making tough catches in traffic.
“After watching the tape and even on the field, I felt we had five wide receivers dressed for the game and we needed all five. They all contributed," Bill Lazor said. "At times, there were certain plays where maybe I would call thinking we would get a matchup and that guy had just come out for a (breather). Sometimes I would look up and I think, ‘Oh man.’ All week, you are playing for maybe Mike (Wallace) to be in for a certain play, and the guys who are in that spot did it. They executed it. I think as a group they continue to get better."
Tannehill has done a great job of spreading the ball around over the past several weeks. Against the Broncos, he completed passes to nine different players. Against the Buffalo Bills, he completed passes to eight different receivers. Lazor said that none of this is by design - it's just the way the game plays out.
"I was asked last week in this room or at some point, ‘Do you get the ball enough to guys?’ You always want to get the ball to them more, especially when they are out there working for each other and they are blocking. You would like to see them get the ball, and there usually aren’t enough to go around. When you are playing five, that’s especially the case. I’m happy when they do get the ball in their hands and I just try to encourage them to make the most of every (catch) you get.”
Joe Philbin was also impressed with the way some of the guys made plays throughout the course of the game but said he was disappointed more plays weren't made in the second half.
“I thought offensively at times we made some plays in the game. I thought the guys stepped up and made some difficult catches, as you mentioned. I think different guys contributed. Mike (Wallace) had a nice touchdown. Jarvis (Landry) had a couple (of touchdowns). Brandon (Gibson) made a couple of nice catches. Brian (Hartline) had some (nice catches). I thought the ball got around to some of those guys. Again, we didn’t make enough plays on offense for sure in the second half.”
One player who has really been stepping up is Jarvis Landry. While we all see the tough catches and the determination on the field, Lazor is behind the scenes pushing him even harder to become the best that he can possibly be.
“I think there were a couple of times yesterday where I thought Jarvis (Landry) could have used some technique that he’s shown in practice to help get open against press coverage, tight coverage. Don’t get me wrong, he made some catches in tight coverage. He will continue to do that because that’s something he does well. I think he’s on track. I don’t think there’s one major issue that you have to change with Jarvis. You just have to keep developing him. For a rookie wide receiver, I think he’s learning how long these seasons are. He’s doing a nice job of learning how to take care of his body to get through it. He’s a great competitor. I think we all gain confidence and energy by watching him out there. I don’t think there is one thing.”
Finally, the receivers stepped up in the red zone against the Broncos. Every time the Dolphins were in the red zone on Sunday, they scored a touchdown. Coming into the game, they were the third worst team in the red zone when it came to scoring touchdowns.
"I think the biggest thing I felt, especially after watching the game for the third time this morning, was guys played with confidence there and they executed so well," Lazor said. "They really looked like they knew exactly what they were doing. The pass protection in the red zone was very, very good. Some of those touchdown passes you see Ryan (Tannehill) had a lot of time. There was better trust between the quarterback and wide receivers, where they were going to be, how it was going to work out. Those were the things we talked about from the beginning. You see them happening when we called the runs that we scored early, the two-point conversion that went in. Guys were moving the defenders on the double teams. I think that is what we hoped it would be the whole time, so as a coach I guess you look at it and in the best case scenario and you say, ‘Is this what we’ve been working toward?’ And it is coming now. We just have to make sure we maintain that.”
If the Dolphins want to continue to win, they'll need to continue scoring touchdowns in the red zone. If they do that, they should be able to easily win games as long as the defense steps up to the level they are expected to play at.