Gaffney Finally Sees The Field

Posted Oct 31, 2012

Veteran wideout no longer a spectator

Three seasons with the New England Patriots gave veteran wide receiver Jabar Gaffney a good taste of what AFC East rivalry games are like, but until this past Sunday he had no idea how intense Dolphins-Jets can be.

Gaffney, who had been inactive for his first three games in a Miami jersey after being signed on October 3rd, made his debut at MetLife Stadium and had a significant impact on the outcome. His 30-yard reception on the first drive of the second half set up the last touchdown in the Dolphins’ 30-9 route.

“It’s a rivalry week and what a week to step back in and play,” said Gaffney, whose 444 career receptions are by far the most among the receiving corps. “It felt good and I’m glad we got the win.”

Later in the third quarter, Gaffney had a chance to put an exclamation point on the victory when he got behind the coverage deep down the left sideline for what would have been a 70-yard touchdown. But the pass thrown by backup quarterback Matt Moore just bounced off of his fingertips for an incompletion.

“I made a play and I had one I wish I can have back,” Gaffney said. “That’s how it goes and hopefully I won’t have anymore drops.”

Head Coach Joe Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman had been waiting patiently for Gaffney to grasp the playbook and get comfortable enough with it to be included in a game plan. While they waited, Marlon Moore started to come on as a third option behind Davone Bess and Brian Hartline, and his 37-yard diving catch in the first half set up a Dan Carpenter field goal.

Philbin liked the way Gaffney ran his routes and said he “moved around like a football player” on the field. He also liked how Moore ran underneath the deep ball to make an outstanding catch and acknowledged how much both contributed to the passing game. Sherman, meanwhile, admitted that perhaps its time to ask a little more out of both receivers and take some of the pressure off of Bess and Hartline, but Gaffney left a strong impression on him.

“He caught a third-down conversion on a corner route, which was a great throw by Matt as well and a nice catch by him,” Sherman said. “He had an opportunity a little later to catch another one that potentially might have been a big play or a touchdown. And then he blocked real well. He put himself in position on the second pass even though he dropped it. I was encouraged that he was in position to make a play, because if he is in position, he has caught a bunch of balls. I’m not worried about him catching it. I was thankful that he was in position to make plays.”

For Gaffney, his extra work in practice with Moore leading up to the Jets game paid off, and he is hoping to regain the form that led to his best season last year with the Washington Redskins. He caught 68 passes for 947 yards and five touchdowns after reeling in 65 for 875 and two touchdowns the year before with the Denver Broncos.

Whether or not Moore us under center again this Sunday at Indianapolis or rookie Ryan Tannehill is healthy enough to start, Gaffney plans to be ready to take another step forward.

“I worked with (Moore) a little bit in practice and caught some passes from him,” Gaffney said. “I tried to catch a lot of passes continuously from every quarterback but we’re getting familiar with each other a little bit. Matt did a tremendous job stepping in. He prepares hard in practice and it showed up in this game.”

Gaffney’s preparation also showed up, and he, Philbin and Sherman are counting on him to take that next step as well.

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