- The Dolphins are still in the playoff race. I can write the previous sentence without losing journalistic credibility because that’s the mathematical truth. However, the Dolphins would have to win out and several decent teams would have to tank overnight for the Dolphins to sneak into the dance. Therefore, back in the real world I should probably still lose journalistic credibility for that opening sentence. Dolphins fans who live in that real world are less concerned with playoffs and more concerned with finding reasons to watch the remaining four games. Well, how about the chance to see what the team’s first round pick has to offer?
Wide receiver DeVante Parker, the Dolphins 14th overall selection in the 2015 draft has struggled to get on the field due to injury, decent performance from other receivers on the roster, developing route running skills, and perhaps a lack of certain coaches’ favor. An injury to Rishard Mathews has forced Parker into more action and his play during these added snaps suggest he may have more promise than initially meets the eye. Everyone who watched the week 13 Dolphins-Ravens match-up noticed his spectacular “climb-the-ladder” catch that displayed some major jump ball ability and landed him on several top catch countdowns in addition to the end-zone. What the casual viewer may not have noticed is what an important impact Parker’s blocking made in the game. The following is a game tape breakdown of Parker’s snap results:
Action away from the play – 20
Key blocks – 8
Well covered and no target – 8
Open on the route and no target – 3
Catches – 3 (one touchdown)
Missed target decent throw – 1
Missed target poor throw – 1
It’s clear that the Dolphins’ coaching staff was earnest in their effort to emphasize the run, as Parker was not all that relevant to the play on nearly half his snaps. With that aside, the number regarding Parker’s productive snaps that jumps out like Parker himself is the 8 blocks. Most of these blocks were key to offensive production, with at least three first downs easily attributed to those blocks. Here is a closer look at a block that enables the quarterback to pick up a first down on the ground (this play happens with 2:04 left in the 1st quarter):
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill (#17) is chased freely by the defensive end. The free defensive end could be a missed assignment by tight end Dion Sims, but the Sims does make a block at the second level later in this play, so the free defensive end could be a chase-down match-up permitted by the play design, in which the coaches favor their quarterback’s legs. Either way it is the block on the corner by Parker (#11) that enables the quarterback to get outside and tightrope the sideline for a first down.
Much later in the game (with 7:19 in the 3rd quarter), Parker again lays a block that enables a first down. This time aiding the running back on a hand-off:
To the left of running back Lamar Miller (#26), Guard Billy Turner (#77) and Tight End Dion Sims (#80) fail to stay with their blocks. To the right of Miller, Parker (#11) lays a clean and solid block on the corner, providing the runner defender free space to get further outside and evade the free defenders. The run goes for 13 yards and another first down.
In other words, if you’re looking for reasons to watch the last four games of the Miami Dolphins’ 2015 season, keep a close eye on #11’s blocking. This might spell some positives for the team’s future.