Marshall Trending Upward With His Play At Wide Receiver

Posted Nov 30, 2011

Even though the Miami Dolphins’ three-game winning streak came to an end last Thursday in Dallas, the whole nation got to see one of their playmakers at his best.

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall made the play of the game and even earned the top spot on ESPN’s Top 10 plays from Week 12 when he hauled in a 35-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. He did so with Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman hanging all over him and hugging his neck to give Miami a 16-10 lead, a play that still elicits a smile from Marshall as he tries to look forward.

“I always like to throw subliminal messages out there because I don’t really like to talk about myself too much, so if I want to say I’m a Pro Bowl player I’ll where my Pro Bowl jersey and let that talk for me,” said Marshall, who earned back-to-back Pro Bowl berths in 2008 and 2009. “It’s a new week so I’m not going to go back in the past, but it was really nice. I guess I needed a catch like that just to prove that I still can catch the football, but we’re on to the Oakland Raiders now.”

And the Raiders are tasked with trying to defend one of the league’s hottest receivers in Marshall. In the month of November he caught 21 passes for 312 yards and 20 of those catches for 307 yards and two touchdowns came in just three games.

Marshall leads the Dolphins with 59 receptions for 850 yards and three touchdowns with five games still remaining. His average of 14.4 yards per catch is the second highest of his career behind the 15.5 yards he averaged as a rookie in limited action (20 catches for 309 yards and two touchdowns in one start and 15 games).

“Take a look at his numbers. You guys be the judge. He’s got pretty high numbers right now,” Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano said. “I think he’s averaging the best he has averaged per reception right now. I don’t know maybe my numbers are wrong but you’re right, I’m a stat guy. I think there’s only one, two … Wes Welker and I don’t think anybody else has more receptions than him right now (as far as wide receivers).”

Welker leads the league with 82 receptions and Marshall is tied for seventh, but the only other receivers ahead of him are Atlanta’s Roddy White with 64 and Detroit’s Calvin Johnson with 63. New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles is fifth with 62 receptions and the only other players ahead of Marshall are tight ends (New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham with 67 and New England’s Rob Gronkowski with 60.

One of the reasons Marshall believes he is playing so much better now is because he is having fun out there. He really enjoys playing alongside fellow receivers Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, tight end Anthony Fasano and the rest of his teammates on offense.

“We’re pretty close as a receiving corps and that’s the best thing about our offense, especially when we’re rolling because we feed off of each other,” Marshall said. “I played with a little chip on my shoulder last week. I approach every game the same but it was a big-time game and it was a huge game for us. We really thought that was a game that we could have.”

That one-point loss aside, Marshall believes he has plenty more left in the tank over these last five games and is eager to prove it this Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. When he played for the Denver Broncos in his first four seasons he was in the same division as the Raiders and admitted that he looked forward to playing in Oakland and teasing the fans in the infamous Black Hole.

Sparano will be happy if Marshall can continue playing at his current high level at Sun Life Stadium against Oakland. By that he means more of the “chunk yardage” plays Marshall and the rest of the offense has been delivering.

“He’s made some big plays. I think his run after the catch has helped him,” said Sparano, who has seen the passing game as a whole improve exponentially. “Brandon is not catching 15-yard balls but he’s catching eight-yard balls and running with it. I think that’s improved a lot too. The other thing that people don’t realize when it comes to Brandon is we’re putting him in a lot of places so we’re asking him to do a lot of things and he’s done that well and handled that well. So that’s a credit to him and the guys that are working with him.”