Bess Excited For Hard Work To Pay Off In New Offense

Posted May 22, 2012

Getting production out of every wide receiver on the field is the goal of new Miami Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin, and that is music to the ears of Davone Bess.

Over his first four seasons in the National Football League, Bess has been as consistent as they come by averaging in the 10-yard range per catch playing for two different offensive coordinators – Dan Henning (2008-10) and Brian Daboll (2011). As an undrafted rookie in 2008 he averaged 10.3 yards-per-catch, following that up with an even 10-yard average in 2009, 10.4 in 2010 and 10.5 last season.

Green Bay’s top five wide receivers in 2011 each averaged more than 12.0 yards per reception and accounted for 37 touchdowns, with Jordy Nelson’s 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns on 96 catches leading the way. Nelson, Greg Jennings (101 receptions for 949 yards and nine TDs), tight end Jermichael Finley (93 receptions for 767 yards and eight TDs), James Jones (55 catches for 635 yards and seven TDs) and Donald Driver (56 catches for 445 yards and six TDs) all caught more passes for more touchdowns than Bess (51 receptions for 537 yards and three TDs).

Seeing those numbers and having seen the playbook put together by Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman has gotten Bess very excited for the upcoming season. He'll get his second shot at acting out the playbook on the field along with the rest of the team at this morning's first OTA session.

“The potential for the offense and the group of guys we’ve got, the sky’s the limit,” Bess said. “We’ve just got to continue to buy into it, continue to work hard and keep grinding. Everybody knows what everybody’s doing and everybody can play every position, which personally helps you with the overall concept of it.”

If there is one dominant theme or message Philbin has tried to get across since being introduced as the 10th head coach in franchise history it’s that in his scheme there is no No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 or No. 4 receiver. The quarterback has a number of different reads with each snap and a host of options, which allows him to spread the ball around.

Since Bess burst on the scene in 2008 with his 54 catches for 554 yards, the second most in NFL history by an undrafted rookie, he has been labeled as a slot receiver. Along with former Dolphin now Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, Bess has been considered among the top slot receivers in the league, but Bess doesn’t want to be pigeon holed.

“It’s a title and all I can do is go out and perform under any circumstance and whatever opportunity I can get,” said Bess, who followed up that rookie campaign with back-to-back seasons of at least 75 catches. “Everything else really doesn’t matter. Slot guy, No. 2 guy or whatever they call it, it’s just a title and it doesn’t reflect the performance of the player. In this offense you’re a receiver and you catch passes and that’s the best thing about it.”

Two years ago Bess enjoyed his best season, catching 79 passes for 820 yards and five touchdowns. He combined with Brandon Marshall (86 catches for 1,014 yards and three TDs) to form the most prolific pass catching duo in franchise history. Their 165 total receptions were 21 more than Mark Clayton and Mark Duper had in 1984 and what Clayton and Jim Jensen had in 1988.

Bess became a favorite target of quarterback Matt Moore’s last season after Moore replaced the injured Chad Henne during the Week 4 loss at San Diego. Bess’ quickness, sure hands and ability to run after the catch all suit this new offense well and Moore likes the same aspects of Philbin’s and Sherman’s schemes that Bess likes.

“The thing I like about the definition of the offense is that it spreads the ball out naturally,” said Moore, went 6-3 down the stretch as the starting quarterback. “With the personnel groups we have, the route combination really allows anyone to be the number one at any time, which is pretty cool. It’s a lot of quick throws with guys able to find little pockets and get open quickly.”

Even with Marshall no longer in the fold after being traded to the Chicago Bears in March, Philbin has been pleasantly intrigued by Bess, Brian Hartline, Marlon Moore, Roberto Wallace and some of the other returning receivers. Along with the group of rookies added in the draft and free agency, there should be plenty of targets for Moore, David Garrard or first-round pick Ryan Tannehill to hit.

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