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Dolphins tight end position needs urgent upgrade

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.

This is:

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.





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a qb elevates everybody around them including the phans.
can u tink of a well rested phins d????
in lieu of the 3 + out/ pix six kings d?
wake will have 3 sax every q if he would be able 2 rest.

he's loooooooooooooong gone.

As far as the draft is concerned id be happy with te'o,jarvis jones, or one of the wr from usc or tennessee. second round i would love to see us go for lacy out of alabama or elam out of florida. If we cant get lacy we could steal lattimore in the third. Either way we need to draft more sec players. Now if clowney comes out we should jump all over him.

Marshall MIGHT have made a difference in a game or two. MIGHT have.

That would still leave Miami a mediocre squad looking to get younger and more talented, albeit one with an aging diva at receiver.

Meanwhile, the Bears are 1-4 in their past 5 games for anyone paying attention.

I'll take the draft picks any day.

nfl 2 expand playoffs 2 32 teams.

bill,lets pix ^ some gyros and head 2 the water front and look at the chix in g strings k?

I guess Mando can keep himself busy with this train of blogs, I'll help title the next few.

Dolphins Free Saftey Position Needs Urgent Upgrade
Dolphins Corner Back Position Needs Urgent Upgrade
Dolphins Inside Linebacker Position Needs Urgent Upgrade
Dolphins Outside Linebacker Position Needs Urgent Upgrade
Dolphins Defensive End Position Needs Urgent Upgrade
Dolphins Wide Receiver Position Needs Urgent Upgrade
Dolphins Offensive Guards Position Needs Urgent Upgrade
Dolphins Offensive Tackles Position Needs Urgent Upgrade
Dolphins Running Back Position Needs Urgent Upgrade
Dolphins Quarterback Position Needs Urgent Upgrade

Sadly that's how I see our depth right now. I like Tannehill by the way but I would still get a rookie QB in the draft to push him. No job should be safe unless you are a potential Hall of Famer and you produce every stinking game. I like our DT's (Odrick is one), C's, and move Wilson back to SS and we're good there. FB good for now.

Good analysis, Armando. I don't take Philbin's public pronouncements too seriously, b/c he doesn't seem like a guy who says what he's thinking in public.

At least I hope that's the case, because if anyone coaching this team does NOT think they need WR *and* TE upgrades, then the team needs a coach upgrade too.

Darkoak, is that list supposed to be in order of priority?

Not in order.

No coach is going to throw his current players under the bus by proclaiming they aren't good enough. It would be ridiculous to expect Philbin to do that and would send a genuinely negative vide through the roster that the coach was looking for scapegoats. Free agents would take notice of that.

Same reason that amid all the VALID criticism of Ireland, I thought the suggestion he should have made some kind of "official announcement" that the team was in a rebuilding year to the fans was absolutely ludicrous.

First of all, WHY? Would doing so have changed a damn thing on the field? Did any fan with an IQ above "banana" expect this team to be a playoff contender with a new staff, young roster, and rookie QB?

Second of all, NOBODY else in the NFL does this, either. You just don't tell your current players you have no expectation of them succeeding. What the hell is served by that aside from creating animosities?

Again, the valid criticisms are fine. Some of the other stuff, though, is childish and totally unrealistic.

I read the title of this entry and thought - you could've wirtten this one every year since david martin got hurt but I digress.

Ireland aslo mad eone of the most baffling draft decisions in Dolphins history by drafting 59,000 linebackers in 2010 when the team had a glaring hole at tight end. Gronkowski, Hernandez, Pitta, Graham, Hickson all flashed dynamic potential in college and were all drafted after the first round. Howeer, Miami passed over a couple of these guys to draft a guy who could've been an undrafted free agent in AJ Edds and a Sparano boy in John Jerry when we still had a usuable DOnald Thomas in the fold. Boy was I frustrated that day.

Anyways, I agree with Philbin here in Saying Fasano is usable in the red zone and Clay makes a good H back to serve in a similar role as Hernandez when Gronkowski is healthy. But just like the Wr corps, they need a guy to challenge the defense between the 20s, that will make the chunk plays. There are a few guys that will be there in the 2nd round. I will be vexed if we don't make a move there. It's a huge need as Mando so accurately pointed out.

2 of our first three picks should be WR and TE. Wwe should also make a major move in free agency at WR. And I will downright freaked if our first pick is a left tackle again. That would spell the end of Ireland in my book.

Holy crap, a poster here with an actual brain! Totally agreed, JSR.

Look for Ireland/Philbin to search out ACORNS in FA; OL and DB's may be best target there. Speculate that draft position necessitates a DE/DT for 1st rounder and WRs & TEs in second and beyond. NEED to find a power running back as it appears neither Thomas or Lane can get the 1 or 2 yards necessary in critical situations.

Ireland doesn't seem to like player-player trades. But many team upgrades have been accomplished this way and Dolphins have trade bait. Parcells-types, while disliked here, may be coveted elsewhere.

I agree with jrs as well, great post.

Mark I see that as well with the TEs. If Egnew ends up being a pass catching threat. The TEs might be ok. Otherwise they need to get one. I think Fasano, Clay, + Dyanamic pass catcher would be fine.

If you are using a TE strictly for blocking than why not use a backup OL?

My take is the Dolphins need to pick BPA all the time. Once you do that you start developing depth. Once you have depth at positions you can draft for needs. Free agency is for needs the draft should be BPA unless you are good at certain positions depth wise. Now how you rate BPA is another story. And you have to have a plan as to what areas of the team need the upgrading. If you need WR and your board shows the next WR ranks out 5 guys down your list, sure take a flyer. If he's two rounds away dear God don't reach.

The other thing is I wonder how often the Dolphins scouting staff gets shaken up. Clearly our college scouts are missing something. Do they need more scouts, better scouts?

armando, norv turner or andy reid as new oc.?

Norv Turner?!?

Yeah, let's bring in a guy married to the Parcells/Jimmy old-school style of offense predicated on massive linemen and a power running game when Philbin/Sherman and Co. are just beginning to install a Packers-style offense that is pass heavy and dedicated to quickly delivering the ball to any open receiver on the field.


(and Reid BADLY needs a year off from football, don't you think? between his family tragedies, health issues, and waning influence over players I'd say it's time-out time)

Why not draft Tyler Eifert & Zach Ertz duo (like NE did), great hands, great blocking for the years to come. Its a gambling situation, but could pay grat dividends.

Yup keep blaming everyone else except the QB. Switch our TE's with NE's TE's and see what the stats are. Not to mention NE runs a real NFL offense.

armando,bill billick new hc?
and vermiel won an sb after a long hiatus sooooo?

The idea of BPA is a bit of a fallacy. Obviously, when you are picking 11th or 12th or wherever the Dolphins end up picking, there may be 10-15 players worthy of that selection with similar draft grades, so in that group should also be a player that plays the position you also need more than another. For example, there may be a left tackle and a WR with a similar draft grade, in that case, given our lineup, there is no way we should be picking a left tackle in that scenario. You need to pick the best combination of BPA and positional need.

yeah, j phil didn't have tragedy huh.?

armando, looks like the heat got tannehenne disease.
no pts. in the last 3 minutes.

Sigh, this team has so many holes I can't even write a proper breakdown of how to fix them in the draft/free agency.

I would add a ball hawking safety(Byrd) and CB(Grimes, Rogers Cromartie) to the secondary. Sign a WR who knows the WC offense(Jennings), let Smith walk and not give Long a penny over 9 mil. By this time, Miami is mostly capped out and will have to fill out the other needs through the draft.

I would draft a pass rushing DE, A CB to replace Smith, and a speed WR or TE who can be a seem threat and blow the top off a defense with the first 3 picks.

But Ireland most likely will be calling the shots again. Needless to say I'm not confident at all in his ability's in the draft or free agency period. This team is screwed

yeah, turners o's don't put ^ pts.huh?
just like shermans/tannehennes.
clueless homers.

dolffnman, not anything the Dolphins will be able to do about the QB position in this year's draft. Barkley and Smith will be gone by the time the Dolphins pick in the first. Then at least two more will be gone to Buffalo and Jax by the time we pick in the 2nd. No point drafting the 5th best QB in a weak class. We are married to Tannehill for another year ... for better or worse as they say ...

Point taken dolfinman. But you can't believe Tom Terrific's stats wouldn't be poorer and Tannehill's richer for the change?

2 watt, Miami's coaching staff has been in place for TWELVE games. They aren't going to be blowing it up and bringing in a new staff (yet again) after ONE freaking season.

Do you seriously think that's a formula for success? Can you think of ANY team in ANY sport that ever found a winning formula by constantly changing course and showing zero stability?

You think Ross has an image problem now? He'd be looked at as the most capricious, trigger-happy, impatient nutcase in professional sports if he started behaving that way. And rest assured no agent would be advising their free-agent clients to join a loopy organization like that.

Your ideas are nutty. STABILITY wins in the NFL. Give Philbin and Co. at least a realistic chance to build the type of team they envision before running around like a headless chicken and tearing apart the jigsaw puzzle just because all the pieces aren't there yet.

Armando. Please tell me the drawbacks of getting all the kids on the field to see what they have in the tank. Egnew for example may or may not be ready but until he can hit the field how is anyone to know. With the playoffs now a pipe dream, we need to see what we have in him. Same with Miller. Reggie may or may not resign or wish to come back. shouldnt we see what miller can do given a full games work load. Maybe these guys are raw and the GM and coach are afraid to see what we have, but where is this team going otherwise. playing the same old retreads like Fasano and bush isnt going to accomplish moving this team in the direction we all want as fans. Ireland should be let go based on the fact these young players are rotting on our sideline.

armando, new gm?

An NFL player for six seasons, Alonzo Highsmith enters his 14th year with the Green Bay Packers’ personnel department. He was promoted to senior personnel executive in May 2012 after 13 years on the Packers’ college scouting staff, where he maintained primary responsibility for the Southwest region.

First named as a college scout by then-Executive Vice President/General Manager Ron Wolf on Feb. 1, 1999, Highsmith originally had entered the professional ranks as the third overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft by the then-Houston Oilers, behind only college teammate Vinny Testaverde (Tampa Bay) and Cornelius Bennett (Indianapolis).

Yeah! Why would you blame the veteran wrs and te's, none of whom have ever even sniffed a pro bowl, when its pretty obvious all the fault lies with the rookie qb? Right dolfnman? I mean what is everyone in the country stupid or what? Why would a rookie QB need talent and a running game to be succesful? That's crazzy.

Come on already with this stupid s&%t guy, use your brain for a change.

armando, ron rivera new dc.?

how many teams has belli coached huh,
'till he got it?

Some of you guys probably want Miami to go apesh*t in free agency, too, even though its been PROVEN time and time again that formula DOES NOT WORK.

Why not ask Dan Snyder about that? The Skins have only started to taste success again when he STOPPED behaving like a fan in the candy store and finally realized stability and the draft are te only ways to get it done.

Take a look at the LEAST active teams in free-agency sometime. They have names like the Steelers, Patriots, Packers, and Giants. I'll take that approach.

tannehenne = fiedler. another f'ing game mgr.
he ain't got it*

ross u pizzant,
make it so!.

How many teams did Belichick coach before he "got it?"

One. The Browns. And he took them to the playoffs once, too.

Bill was 5-11 his forst year in New England, by the way.

What's your point here?

Mark your thoughts on the draft are pretty good but they don't take into account the composition of the draft. If the top rounds have lots of fantastic linebackers and the wide receivers are not so good then the wide outs get higher draft grades just because there is less of them to go around so they are over valued. Supply and demand. Do we draft a second round WR talent in the first because there aren't any good ones left in the first and he may not be there when we pick in the second or do we take the BPA say a lights out DT?

It's pretty annoying when someone writes a joke and then laughs at their own joke. The only thing worse is when the joke isn't funny, yet they still laugh. But both are really lame, makes people not want to read those posts?

hey jr's. I couldnt agree more about using the draft as the main tool in building a roster, but providing we have the right man at the controls. I seriously have my doubts in Ireland. Young guys like Egnew and Miller cant beat out vets like fasano and Bush. How is this roster to grow in the direction of the Pats when our high draft picks dont even dress on sundays-see Egnew. Right now our peanut vendors see the stadium more than our third rd pick. just sad

Jrs, great stuff. And let me know if you ever find 2watts points, they're pretty elusive.

The most consistent winners in the NFL all follow some version of the same template:

Do NOT go crazy in free-agency. Do NOT wreck your salary cap in the hopes of a Quixotic quick fix, and do NOT make a habit of trading away draft picks for somebody else's problem child and/or damaged goods.

Fans often want these things. They are allowed to be impatient.

It never works, however.

Stability and reliance on the draft (especially if you can acquire more picks as the Patriots have done SO well for so long) is the only way to do it.

Amazing how many don't get that message despite it being proven over and over for decades.

(anyone remember the disaster that was the 1995 Dolphins? Enough said)

Unfortunately guy I'm afraid we are stuck with Ireland for one more year. If the team doesn't have a winning record or drafted players underperform next season he will be gone. But hoping for a new gm for the draft is a pipe dream. Ireland and his staff have already scouted tons of college players, to bring someone in at the end of the season would belive it or not, be counterproductive. The time to get rid of your gm is during a coaching change or by week 4 in the season.

yes JRS the talent on the 1995 dolphis was awesome. The first 4 games of the season were awesome. Then the teams imploded after halftime against Indy and that started the bickering and finger pointing for that team. It still made the playoffs but the damage was done. My hope is this team builds through the draft but with the right personnel guy making the picks. Ireland has had too many chances to show hes making the wrong ones.

I was hoping that was coachspeak from Philbin but this from PB Post......

The point is, tight end wasn’t _ and still isn’t _ a major area of concern on the offense. Sure, Fasano lacks speed and often struggles to get open. But Fasano has proven dependable over the years, had a brilliant TD catch against the 49ers and is an excellent blocker. Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman is on record saying he’s been very happy with the season Fasano has had.

Uh oh.

Jrs I use that example every time I talk about free agency. Shula was desperate, the team started well, then quickly plummeted. They had no chemistry, it wasn't a team, it was a bunch of guys trying to live up to nationapl hype. A lot of selfish individual players who thought they were better than everyone so they coasted.

A modern example that is perfect are the Eagles. Three years now they have won on paper. The media proclaims them the most talented team in the league and tells everyone to watch out. And they underacheive, every season.

Phins78, you are 100% right.

The ONLY exception I would make is if Philbin and Co. are not comfortable working with Ireland and have some other candidate (likely with a Packers connection) they would be more favorable towards working with.

None of us have the slightest idea if that is the case, however, and certainly it would be foolish for any of them to tip their hand if it WAS the case.

Barring something completely unforeseen (and highly unlikely), I think Ireland certainly gets this offseason and draft. We'll see.

I'd also add that I don't believe ANY GM (or GM candidate) has any kind of magical formula or amazing divining abilities. Wasn't Scott Pioli everybody's "Boy Wonder" just a few, short years ago? How's it working out for him in Kansas City? For that matter, wasn't that the SAME Rick Spielman that was such a dud with us winning 'NFL Executive of the Year' honors in Minnesota just a couple of years later?

A LOT of this stuff is pure, dumb luck..especially when the right QB (Brady) falls into your lap. None of these guys have magic wands or pixie dust.

NONE of them.

There is nothing wrong with the Dolphins that an elite QB wont fix.

Fasano, is what he is and he is a solid player at that. Fasano isn't Gronk, etc. Different style of TE. NE has other TEs, like Fasano but they have the playmakers which hopefully Clay and Egnew can grow into.

I think thats all he is saying cocoa...

And I agree with jrs, you have to build through the draft. FA doesn't work to build a team, look at Philly. FA is only good to get depth or a missing piece. So if the Dolphins got, a starting WR or CB or S in FA that would be a success imo.

bottom line guys. We will not progress or win meaningful games until a new shopper is picking the groceries. While Ireland is looking for acorns, teams like the pats and niners are unearthing gold nuggets. Steven ross must love buying up his own tickets and then seeing lots of orange in sun life stadium otherwise he would see what every other fins fan sees each sunday. This team lacks superior talent at key positions that when up against the NFL's elite, fall short of racking up the wins

2 watt, its doubtful that Tannehill will ever be as good as Fiedler. The guy looks more like a john Beck then Jay fiedler.

Forget about Ireland building thru the draft. If it remains Ireland FA is the only chance we have.

Yeah Spielman was roasted here. Went on to do good things. Sometimes these guys just need time to learn the job. Im hoping what you said first may be true. If Philbin has someone in mind from the Packers scouting department then he would have already done his homework and with Joes influence it could be a smooth transition.

My problem with Ireland is his inability to find playmakers at the WR and TE position. Ive been saying it for months. The guy has had three years and hasn't found one playmaker in the bunch. All serviceable, fine. Serviceable gets you close to mediocre. I just don't trust his ability to find talented pass catching threats. Hopefully Joe has a lot of influence in which ones they sign or draft.

Yeah, just so nobody misunderstands I'm certainly not saying you NEVER dip into FA. Hey, Mike Wallace would be a GREAT fit on a team in desperate need of outside speed---I recognize that.

But you don't go crazy in free-agency. Ever. No matter how much bleating your fan base is doing to go after this guy or that. It's almost always overpaying for damaged goods and wrecking your salary structure chasing after a few gold nuggets when the overall squad is crying for more youth, talent, and depth.

Anyway, fellas, gotta run. Enjoyed the give and take!

Yeah, and Irescums 3 QB's have all been pathetic!!!

I love when someone keeps writing assinine posts, gets ignored, and then changes their name to agree with their own posts. Wow.

Here, I'll be Bill Bellicheat.

(I'm staring at you, stone cold silent. You are quivering in fear.)

To jrs' point, free agency is for sprinkling in players, not building a roster.

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