Dolphins wide receivers aren’t just catching passes, they’re also blocking – The Denver Post


Watch the Miami Dolphins wide receivers next week against Houston.

They’ll be the guys blocking downfield.

They’re not just getting in someone’s way, they’re actually throwing legitimate turn-a-guy-in-a-different-direction blocks.

Tyreek Hill leads the league in receiving yards (1,148), receptions (81) and targets (106).

But he enjoys blocking.

Jaylen Waddle is fourth in the league in receiving yards (848), 12th in receptions (51) and 16th in targets (75).

But he’ll throw a block.

The same goes for Trent Sherfield. River Cracraft, Cedrick Wilson Jr., Braylon Sanders and everyone else.

Sherfield, who had a 14-yard touchdown reception against Cleveland, had a key block on running back Jeff Wilson Jr.’s 20-yard touchdown run, as well as running back Raheem Mostert’s 24-yard touchdown run.

If you’ve played wide receiver for the Dolphins this season, you’ve probably thrown a block that helped spring a long play, or at the very least, a positive play.

That says something to coach Mike McDaniel.

“It tells me that they’re trying to win football games, and they get it,” McDaniel said. “It tells me that they are being coached right. It tells me that they’re approaching the game the right way.”

The Dolphins wide receivers do lots of flashy things among showing their other-wordly speed, making spectacular receptions or engaging in memorable touchdown celebrations (Waddle’s penguin waddle is among the league’s best).

But they also take care of the down-and-dirty details.

The Dolphins are tied for second (with Kansas City) in yards per play this season at 6.4. Buffalo leads the league at 6.5.

However, in the past three weeks, the Dolphins lead the league at 7.3 yards per play.

And the Dolphins have never had a shortage of long plays.

The Dolphins have 39 pass plays of 20 or more yards, second in the league to Kansas City (41). Some of those were catch-and-run plays that relied on downfield blocking by the wide receivers.

The Dolphins have seven run plays of 20 yards or longer, tied for 12th in the league. A much higher percentage of those relied on downfield blocking by the wide receivers.

But even on plays that don’t go for big gains, you can see the wide receivers throwing aggressive blocks. Even when they’re not successful, they’re at least making the effort.

“If you’re shortsighted, you can think, ‘OK, I’m a receiver. I get paid to catch footballs,’ “ McDaniel said, “and that’s a very shortsighted investment because you’re also, as a receiver, depending on a lot of people to do the right things for you to get receptions.”

Hill, at a tightly muscled 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, has a league-leading 20 receiving plays of 20 yards or more. His 350 yards after catch ranks sixth in the league. But he enjoys his role as a blocker.

“You’ve got to be physical, man,” he said. “I feel like for a smaller guy like me, I really can make my statement and like slow [defensive backs] down, whether it’s corners or free safeties, if I come down and I’m able to ear-hole them or knock them on the ground.”

Wide receivers coach Wes Welker appreciates that attitude.

“You don’t see guys leading the league in receiving and blocking the way that he’s blocking – the whole room really,” Welker said of Hill and the wide receivers.

“We take a lot of pride in that, and he’s at the forefront of that. It makes my job a lot easier when your best player in the room is buying in and doing those types of things. It leads to team success.”

Waddle has 14 receiving plays of 20 yards or more, which ranks third in the league. His 312 YAC ranks 11th in the league. But even at a slight 182 pounds, he’s a willing blocker.

Sherfield and Cracraft were both throwing downfield blocks on Mostert’s 12-yard touchdown run against the New York Jets.

Hill threw a key block on fullback Alec Ingold’s 13-yard touchdown reception against Cleveland.

The Dolphins have four passing touchdowns of 29 or more yards and two rushing touchdowns of 20 or more yards.

“It’s not a coincidence,” McDaniel said. “You’re breaking these long touchdowns because guys are committing to the process and having the desire and determination not to have the person that they’re in phase with be a part of the tackle.

“It’s cool football.”



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