While many people understand the Dolphins will be addressing the wide receiver position this offseason and I reported last month that everyone in the building knows the team needs a burner, I believe the Dolphins better address an equally important position for the sake of their offense and young quarterback.
The Dolphins need to urgently upgrade at tight end.
Currently, the team has five tight ends on the roster. Only two -- Anthony Fasano and Charles Clay -- have generated any statistics for the team. And while I don't think their statistics are impressive or satisfactory in any regard, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin begs to differ.
“Our touchdown production has been very good," Philbin said of the scoring production by Miami's tight ends. "I think Anthony (Fasano) has played well (and) made a great play in the game the other day. I think we’d like probably some more explosive plays out of that group. We’re starting to get some of them, but probably some more explosive (plays would be good).
"I think they’ve been good down in the red zone. We’ve gotten some touchdowns out of the group. I think, again, overall offensively and them, probably we’d love to see a little more production.”
Yes, coach finally got to the point after circling for a while. The Dolphins need more production out of their tight ends and (sorry coach) that includes touchdowns.
Fasano has 30 catches for 233 yards and has scored four touchdowns. Clay has 16 catches for 204 yards with two touchdowns. That's a combined 46 catches for 437 yards and six touchdowns.
That happens to be in many respects the worst of any tight end group in the AFC East.
At the top of that comparison are the New England tight ends, obviously. Let's stipulate they are basically in another league altogether. So much so, it's not even fair comparing them to the Dolphins. But for the record, Patriots tight ends have 94 catches for 1,193 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.
Yeah, that's better than Miami.
But the trouble is even the lowly Jets and Bills in many respects are getting more tight end production than Miami.
Bills tight ends have 45 catches for 554 yards and eight touchdowns this season. That's one less catch than Miami's duo but 117 more yards and two more touchdowns.
Jets tight ends have 60 combined catches for 671 yards and four touchdowns. That's 14 more catches, 234 more yards, while scoring two fewer TDs.
I look at these statistics and look at Miami's tight ends and wonder, where's all this very good TD production? It's third in a four-team division.
Despite the sobering statistics that is not truly the reason I say the Dolphins need better tight ends.
The Dolphins want to utilize a go-fast offense that snaps the ball maybe 72-78 times per game and wears out the opposing defense, basically sucking their will to compete out of them. To do this you have to stay on the field and move the chains. You have to convert first downs.
Unfortunately for the Dolphins, they don't do this nearly enough and poor tight end production in that area is one major reason. Fasano has converted 14 first downs this year. Clay has converted eight first downs this year. The total of 22 first downs by Miami's tight ends is horrible.
The Patriots tight ends have converted 64 first downs. New York tight ends have converted 37 first downs. Buffalo's tight ends have also converted 37 first downs. All are better than Miami.
And, in fact, if you look around the NFL there are 20 individual tight ends that have converted more first downs than Fasano and Clay combined.
That means the tight end position is not, on most occasions, an outlet for quarterback Ryan Tannehill to extend a drive. Miami's tight ends don't help keep the offense on the field often enough.
Now, you might argue that's Tannehill's fault. Obviously, he has to take ownership in some of that. The passing game is the passing game and everyone is responsible for doing their part.
But Miami's receivers don't have this problem. They produce first downs. So I put it mostly on the tight ends.
Look, both Fasano and Clay fill a role. But if the Dolphins want to help Tannehill and make the offense more efficient and play as intended, the tight end position needs upgrading.