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2 posts from May 13, 2013

May 13, 2013

Hartline: Dolphins have best receivers in AFC East

Brian Hartline looks at the Dolphins receiving contingent and he sees Mike Wallace, and Brandon Gibson and tight end Dustin Keller. You know what else he sees? The best receiving corps in the AFC East.

"Absolutely, I think we are," Hartline said Monday on NFL AM. "The whole passing game I think is an advantage of ours."

I like the confidence. And the analysis is probably correct.

The Jets' best wide receiver is still Santonio Holmes and he's recovering from ACL surgery while Mark Sanchez security blanket Keller is gone to MIami. The Patriots lost Wes Welker in free agency and tight end Rob Gronkowski has been forced to have multiple surgeries on his forearm and might need another one. The Bills have Stevie Johnson, a very good No. 2 wide receiver, but they don't have a lot after him and, by the way, they think Johnson is a No. 1.

So it can be argued that on paper Miami does have the best receiving corps in the AFC East.

But the thing I appreciate more about Hartline is he's bright enough to see beyond the obvious and in his interview with the NFL AM crew he also said "it's a quarterback league."

And having great quarterback play is more important than having great receiver play. You'll remember in 2008, the Dolphins had the best QB play in the AFC East. Chad Pennington rarely made any mistakes. He found open receivers. And with a mediocre receiving corps, he led the Dolphins to the AFC East title. (It also helped that Tom Brady wasn't on the field that year while recovering from knee surgery.)

So excuse me if I hold off on celebrating how great Miami's receivers are until a couple of things happen:

1. They show it on the field.

2. Their quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, is everything you and the Dolphins expect him to be. (Yes, I'm simply going to observe on this one. I've been burned by high expectations for past Dolphins quarterbacks so I'm going to wait until I actually see it from Tannehill before I believe it, if you don't mind.)

If Tannehill plays at a high level, Miami might indeed have the best receiving corps in the division and be able to prove it. Without Tannehill playing well, the best receiver corps will be just another piece of an incomplete puzzle.

No mystery with Dion Jordan's assignment

I have gotten a handful of emails from fans wondering what the Dolphins are going to do with Dion Jordan, their newly minted first-round draft pick.

I supposed the question comes because general manager Jeff Ireland said during the draft he would let coaches figure out what the best way to use Jordan would be and coach Joe Philbin sometimes struggles to give a direct answer to a straight questions such as, "Is player X a guard or a tackle?"

So let me help you.

Dion Jordan is not a linebacker.

Dion Jordan is not a safety.

Dion Jordan is not a slot corner.

Believe it or not, it can be argued he did a little of all those at Oregon. Well, this is the NFL. This is not Oregon.

And in the NFL, on a 4-3 team, Dion Jordan will be a defensive end. If he is one of the team's best two complete ends, he'll start and play three downs. If he's more a pass-rusher early on while he learns the game, he'll play mostly on passing downs until he figures out his assignments and holding the edge of the defense on run plays and so forth.

But Jordan was drafted to get the quarterback on the ground. He was drafted to apply pressure to the passer. He was drafted to maybe cause errant throws that get intercepted. He was drafted to strip the ball from the quarterback and cause fumbles.

He wasn't drafted to cover tight ends or running backs. He wasn't drafted to patrol the middle of the field.

Hopefully the Dolphins move him around. Hopefully the Dolphins let him stand up if he's more comfortable doing that than rushing from a three-point or four-point stance. But, ultimately, rushing the passer is the thing.

He's going to get paid to collect sacks. And hurries.

No mystery.