DAVIE—The Dolphins have a few guys who seem like they should be obvious red zone scorers. DeVante Parker is 6-foot-4 with great leaping ability and a newly discovered tenacity for winning jump-balls. They traded for tight end Julius Thomas theoretically to make them better this area above all others.
After scoring no touchdowns in three red zone trips against the Chargers last weekend, it’s natural to wonder why Miami hasn’t established a clear No. 1 option for those situations. Instead, it continues to be filled by committee.
“I’ve never really had a go-to guy in the red zone—spread the ball out and make it tough,” coach Adam Gase said. “You want them to have to cover everybody–run, pass, whatever we decide to do, different formations.
“You want everybody to be effective down there. Everybody has got a little, probably, a little something that they’re better at than the other guy is. You lean on the things you know they’re really good at.”
None of that materialized last week. Jay Cutler went 2 for 4 passing in the red zone, and Jay Ajayi had four carries for six yards.
The Dolphins got to Los Angeles’ 12-yard line on their opening drive before Cody Parkey kicked a field goal. In the third quarter, they had first-and-goal at the six-yard line, but ended up kicking a 28-yarder. They also failed to capitalize on a first-and-goal from the nine in the fourth.
Last season, Jarvis Landry was the Dolphins’ most-targeted receiver in the red zone—not the typical threat in that section of the field at 6 feet tall. Dolphins quarterbacks threw to him nine times, accounting for 17.6 of their red-zone passes, and he caught seven of them for 48 yards and two touchdowns.
Parker was next, catching 5 of 8 targets for 40 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Dion Sims, now with Chicago, was the team’s best scorer with four touchdowns.
Ajayi got the ball 31 times in the red zone, including seven carries inside the five-yard line, and was targeted on five passes (he caught three). In total, he produced 85 yards and six touchdowns (all rushing).
“I think we’ve got a bunch of go-to guys,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said. “I think Julius is going to be a good go-to guy. DeVante has to play big. If you single our wide receivers, we should make some big plays out there. We had a jump ball to DeVante. He almost came down with it but he didn’t. We had Jarvis at the back end line. We had a close, a shot at him.”
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