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Wide Receivers Feeding Off Of Each Other; Other Notes

Posted Sep 9, 2013

Wallace’s presence benefited Gibson and Hartline at Cleveland.



Success in the passing game for the Miami Dolphins involves a lot of moving parts and chief among them are the wide receivers.

Sunday’s 23-10 season-opening win at the Cleveland Browns highlighted the versatility of that unit and each receiver’s knack for efficiently playing off of each other. Head Coach Joe Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman have emphasized the fact that they don’t target a specific receiver’s number but rather utilize a system of progressions for second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

So even though speedster Mike Wallace, Miami’s biggest offseason free agent signing, only caught one pass for 15 yards while the Browns double covered him most of the afternoon, that opened things up for Brandon Gibson and Brian Hartline. The two combined for 16 catches for 191 yards and one touchdown and were targeted 25 times, accounting for two-thirds of Tannehill’s completions and attempts.

“I’m happy those guys had a great game,” Wallace said. “That’s my teammates and I’m always happy when they do well every single time. Every single catch they work hard for it.”

Hartline led all receivers with nine receptions for 114 yards and matched his touchdown total from all of last season in the very first game with his 34-yard score in the third quarter. Gibson added seven catches for 77 yards, including a 24-yard catch-and-run on Miami’s second touchdown drive.

Tannehill went 6-of-7 for 78 yards on that drive, which culminated with running back Daniel Thomas’ 1-yard leap into the end zone, and all six passes went to Gibson and Hartline (three apiece). Gibson, who was another of the team’s free agent acquisitions, acknowledged how much the attention being paid to Wallace by Cleveland’s defense helped him and Hartline be productive. “There are a lot of working parts to this offense,” Gibson said. “And I feel like if you’re going to double one guy or play Cover 6 over the top with Mike then that means the other guys have to win and come up with big plays.”

As Sherman pointed out, each week is different and next week it could be Wallace catching the majority of the passes. That’s how the offense is designed and that’s why the chemistry among the entire receiver group is so important to the team’s success.

JUST ANOTHER DAY AT THE OFFICE FOR STURGIS

Rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis is mild mannered as they come, and not even the stress of making his NFL debut on the road in a notoriously hostile city Cleveland could rattle him. One day after going a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals against the Browns and booming all six of his kickoffs deep into the end zone or out of the end zone, the soft-spoken Florida native took his success in stride.

“I got out there in enough time in warm-ups to see what it was like,” said Sturgis, who had a stellar college career at the University of Florida before being taken in the fifth round of April’s NFL Draft. “It was a really neat atmosphere and obviously the Browns fans are loud. They have a good team and it was good to come out of there with a win.”

Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium is situated right on the shores of Lake Erie and the wind coming off the lake is very tricky. It changed directions numerous times throughout the game, but neither Sturgis nor punter/holder Brandon Fields were affected by it.

“Every different spot the wind felt a little bit differently,” Sturgis said. “But that’s why you go out there and warm up so you can test out every spot on the field and see what the wind’s going to do to the ball.”

THE LAST WORD

“This is an aggressive defense. We’re just aggressive and we’re going to get after it and we sacked the quarterback a good amount of times and hit the quarterback a bunch of times yesterday. Anytime you can do that that will put a halt on a lot of offensive attacks.” – cornerback Brent Grimes on the identity of Miami’s defense

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