INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Clay’s Breakout Season

Posted Nov 22, 2013

Clay is putting up numbers comparable to any Dolphins player at that position through the years.

There was concern in certain circles that the Dolphins were lacking at tight end after Dustin Keller sustained a season-ending knee injury in the preseason, but tight ends coach Dan Campbell was confident that Charles Clay would be able to get the job done.

Campbell was proven right because Clay not only has delivered as the new starting tight end, he’s putting up numbers comparable to any Dolphins player at that position through the years.

Through the first 10 games, Clay has 42 catches for 474 yards and a team-leading four touchdown receptions. Amazingly, Clay already has more receptions than any Dolphins tight end recorded in a season since 2006 when Randy McMichael finished with 62.

At his current pace, Clay would finish the 2013 season with 67 catches for 758 yards and six touchdowns. The first two numbers would rank as the second-best ever for a Dolphins tight end behind those of McMichael in 2004 when he had 73 catches for 791 yards.

To put himself at No. 1 on the single-season list for Dolphins tight ends, Clay needs 32 catches and 328 yards in the next six games, which averages out to 5.3 catches and 54.7 yards per game. Those certainly would seem like attainable numbers.

The top five receiving seasons, in terms of yardage, in Dolphins history:

2004 Randy McMichael 791 73 4
2013 CHARLES CLAY 758* 67* 6*
1994 Keith Jackson 673 59 7
2006 Randy McMichael 640 62 3
1993 Keith Jackson 613 39 6

* -projected totals

Clay has had two of the Dolphins’ top six receiving games this season in terms of yardage, with his 109-yard performance at Indianapolis in Week 2 and his 90-yard game on Sunday against San Diego, which was highlighted by his spectacular 39-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

The 109-yard performance against Indianapolis ranks as the third-best among Dolphins tight ends behind a 117-yard game by Ferrell Edmunds against the New York Jets in 1988 and a 110-yard outing by Jim Jensen, who was a fullback/running back/H-back/tight end, against New England in that same 1988 season.

Clay actually is a similar player to Jensen in terms of the way he’s used. He’s also lined up at fullback and even got five carries, including one for a 1-yard touchdown in the Week 2 victory at Indianapolis.

Clay’s receiving day at Indy is one of 10 100-yard performances by a Dolphins tight end. As seen in the chart below, Keith Jackson and Larry Seiple are the only Dolphins tight ends in team history with more than one 100-yard game.

The top receiving games (in terms of yardage) by Dolphins tight ends:

Ferrell Edmunds 117 2 at N.Y.Jets 1988
Jim Jensen 110 12 at New England 1988
CHARLES CLAY 109 5 at Indianapolis 2013
Keith Jackson 109 8 San Diego* 1994
Anthony Fasano 107 5 at Tennessee 2010
Larry Seiple 106 8 at Buffalo 1969
Larry Seiple 102 7 at N.Y.Jets 1969
Randy McMichael 102 8 New England 2003
Jim Mandich 101 4 at San Diego 1974
Keith Jackson 100 6 N.Y.Jets 1994

*-playoff game

Going back to the Indy game, Clay’s 67-yard catch in the first quarter was the second-longest reception ever by a Dolphins tight end and one of six in team history of 50 yards or longer.

The longest was an 80-yard touchdown from Dan Marino to Ferrell Edmunds against the New York Jets in 1988. The other Dolphins tight ends with catches of 50 yards or more were Troy Drayton in 1996, Keith Jackson in 1993, Dan Johnson in 1985 and Joe Rose in 1981.

Among tight ends around the NFL, Clay’s 42 catches has him tied for eighth with Chicago’s Martellus Bennett. Clay is tied for seventh among NFL tight ends with his four touchdown receptions along with Bennett, Tony Gonzalez, Garrett Graham, Jason Witten and Greg Olsen.

The Dolphins haven’t had a tight end finish in the top 10 in receptions in a season since 2006 when McMichael ended up seventh.

Clay’s 67-yard play at Indianapolis is the second-longest in the NFL this season by a tight end, topped only by a 74-yard touchdown catch by Denver’s Julius Thomas.

However you slice it, it has been quite a season for Clay, who already has more than doubled his number of career receptions (34 heading into the season) and is on the verge of doubling his number of career receiving touchdowns (5 coming into 2013).

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