In discussing the uncertainty with the Miami Dolphins wide receiver room in the previous post, I gave Rishard Matthews and Jarvis Landry a virtual pass based on their salaries. But just as the team must make decisions on its high priced veterans, it must also make lesser calls on its younger pass catchers, too.
Matthews, for example, has been on the endangered list with the Dolphins for quite some time. Despite his youth (three NFL seasons) and penchant for having solid training camps, I know he is not a favorite among coaches, particularly Joe Philbin. And I know given his choice, he'd also rather be elsewhere.
This past season Matthews was fined multiple times for being late to meetings and he failed to make weight as well. All you have to know about Matthews and his future with the team is found in the final two weeks of the season.
He was not injured prior to the Minnesota game Dec. 21. He was not on the injury report even once. But he was inactive for that game for disciplinary reasons.
He was not injured prior to the New York Jets game Dec. 28. He was not on the injury report even once. But he was inactive for that game for disciplinary reasons.
After Matthews was active in each of the first 14 games of the season, coaches apparently had enough and made the player a healthy scratch the last two weeks of the season. Not the best way to end a season, folks.
And, by the way, the move (not the decision by coaches but rather by Matthews forcing their hand) had painful repercussions in the season finale.
The Dolphins went into that game with their four other wide receivers active. But when Mike Wallace had his episode and didn't play the second half against New York, the Dolphins were left with only three wide receivers the entire second half.
That hurt the team.
Look, a team relies on the limited resources of its 53 players. And when one of those guys, even a bottom of the roster guy such as Matthews, doesn't pull his weight, it can show up on game day.
So do the Dolphins continue to coax Matthews along, hoping he finally straightens out? Or does Joe Philbin, who I remind you has no great fondness for Matthews, finally demand Miami go in another direction before the 2015 season begins?
Jarvis Landry is another matter. He's outstanding.
He's a hard worker. He brings attitude and toughness to his position. His status on the team is not in question.
But because the Dolphins have to decide what they're going to do with several of the other guys in the wide receiver room, the moves may affect Landry. Remember, a team feels the ripple effects down to the last man.
And so at some point the decision on Landry will be as follows: Is he simply a slot receiver, nothing more, nothing less? Or can he play outside?
It is an important question.
If the Dolphins decide Landry can be a good receiver outside, they would then have latitude to make decisions on Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson they might not otherwise make. It's as simple as having a ready replacement on the roster if the team gets rid of somebody.
But if the Dolphins decide Landry is a slot receiver -- and only a slot receiver - the latitude for making other decisions on outside receivers Hartline, Wallace and Gibson becomes more cloudy.
Fans will overwhelmingly believe Landry can be good on the outside. But fans do not watch tape and their jobs are not on the line based on these calls.
I've had multiple NFL sources tell me there is little doubt that moving Landry outside would be a mistake. Landry, they say, is great running short routes against the other team's third best cornerback, but outide his lack of elite speed or size would become problematic.
Landry, they say, wouldn't be able to separate on longer routes because of his (lack of) speed and quickness which reportedly has him running the 40 anywhere from 4.68 to 4.59. And at 5-11 and 200, he's not an obvious mismatch in the size and strength department that some slower receivers are.
Again, these NFL people say Landry is a budding star NFL slot receiver. But outside he'd be a JAG (just a guy).
And they point to his statistics this year as the tip of that argument. Landry caught 84 passes for 758 yards this year. That's a 9-yard-per-catch average.
Nine yards per catch for a WR is poor.
That average tied Landry for 289th in the NFL.
Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas, an unspectacular player, averaged 9.3 yards per catch.
Again, Landry was very good as a slot guy. But translate to the outside where quickness, speed or size are required?
Another interesting decision for the Dolphins to make this offseason.