Early in the Miami Dolphins third preseason game, the Dolphins lined up in the red zone with four wide receivers bunched on the far left, and one lone tight end lined up split to the right, with one lone linebacker covering him. At the snap, Jordan Cameron cut under the linebacker right at the goal line, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill zipped a ball right at his helmet.
Touchdown Miami, right?
The ball, although accurate, was thrown with enough juice on it, that it split Cameron’s hands, bounced off his facemask and fell incomplete. And for the second preseason game in a row, Cameron had dropped a sure touchdown. Fans watching at home shook their heads; all 43 fans in the stands mumbled to themselves. And surely the Dolphins coaches were concerned, right?
“That one today in the end zone was tough,” said head coach Adam Gase. “That was a high hitter. That guy (the linebacker) had really good leverage. But (Cameron) did what he was supposed to do: try to get in front of guys. He had a weird angle in the end zone.
“It happens; it’s the NFL. We had a couple other guys have some drops. When that ball comes in there, and it’s got some juice on it, sometimes it happens. We’ll move on to the next play. We’ll line it up and throw it again.”
And then Gase dropped this, “That was probably more on me than Jordan as far as play call.”
“I would have called a different route,” Gase explained. “The guy lined up hard inside and (Ryan Tannehill) had no other option. We need to get to the point where those two guys can see that, and communicate that they need to go to a different route.”
And that, my friends, is the mark of a good coach in the makings. Rather than linger on the drop, rather than coming down on a player for not making the catch, Gase immediately saw the bigger picture and deduced what might have worked on that play instead; what might have been done to make the throw easier. And he steadfastly refused to criticize Cameron.
“He’s doing a lot of things right,” said Gase. “When you’re in a position where the ball is being thrown to you, everybody looks at one thing: whether you catch the ball or you drop the ball. Right now, he’s doing a lot right. We just need to clean up some of the things in the passing game. There were a couple other opportunities we may have had down the field with him. Ryan was smart with it and felt the coverage dropping back, and got it to the running back. There was a couple other times that (Cameron) broke free, and if they were any tighter on the underneath coverage … maybe we have a chance with an explosive (play) with him.”
Gase said he’s not going to get down on Cameron or Tannehill, and neither player seemed too concerned about it.
Said Tannehill, "He has had a couple of mistakes but we have all had some mistakes. It's the preseason and we are all working through those; that's just a visible one. We have all had our mistakes, but we’re still going to give him the ball and keep going back to him."
And Cameron, “"No, I don't even think about it. I think (the media) think about it more than I do. I've just got to play football and watch the ball in my hands. It's not something I'm concerned with."
"Tight end is not just catching the ball,” Cameron continued. “Obviously, I have to catch the ball. It's what I'm here to do; it's part of my job. But we do a lot of blocking, inside pass protecting. I feel like I have made a lot of strides in that regard, and I'm positive with those things. I think for me it's about being a complete tight end.
“I know the main things you see are a drop here. That's unacceptable, but it's not my whole job. I do other things too.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball.
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