Tony Gonzalez is good. He's Hall of Fame-bound good. Well, so far this season he hasn't been that good, but that's probably a result of him taking much of training camp off after striking a deal with the Falcons that allowed him to do so.
But the guy is generally good.
And that's not the best news for the Dolphins because tight ends have been something of a concern for Miami this year. Now, let me define "something of a concern:"
ooooh crud, here we go again.
“Let’s see, the Cleveland game Cameron (Jordan) had a big game," coach Joe Philbin said Tuesday, recalling the Dolphins efforts against tight ends so far this year. "He was very, very productive. Last week they obviously hit (Coby) Fleener down the seam on a big play, but I think we have the capability of doing a good job against the tight ends."
The Dolphins probably do have the capability of playing better against tight ends. But they have to clean up the issues of the past two weeks to do it.
In the Cleveland game, for example, the Dolphins gave up 10 completions for 117 yards and a touchdown to Browns tight ends. In the Indianapolis game, the Dolphins gave up 5 completions for 82 yards and a touchdown to Colts tight ends.
Opposing teams have targeted their tight ends 24 times vs. Miami so far this season and come away with 15 completions -- that's a 62.5 percent success rate every time the opposing team throws to the tight end.
Compare that to the 50 percent success rate (36 of 72) on targets to all other players, including easy, short throws to running backs and fullbacks and you see that Miami has work to do on limiting tight ends.
This is nothing new, by the way. Long-time Dolphins fans know the team has for some reason struggled covering tight ends for years and years. (No idea why).
But as the Dolphins actively tried to improve their pass coverage this year -- including the signing Phillip Wheeler -- so the hope remains the team can improve on tight end coverage as the season unfolds.
One variable that should buoy the Dolphins is that in Sunday's game, the Falcons won't bring the best tight end in the league to the game. Yes, Gonzalez has been in the past. But he's 37 years old now. He's off to a slow start with only seven receptions for 69 yards. And he's averaging a modest. 9.9 yards per catch, which is over two yards less than his career average per catch.
Despite this apparent decline the Dolphins respect Gonzalez and know he can hurt them.
"He’s outstanding," Philbin said. "He just knows he has so much route skills. He’s just a tough guy to defend, no doubt about it. He knows how to get open. He’s got extremely good hands. It will be a challenge, but I think we are capable."