If you weren’t keeping count, or didn’t happen to notice, Landry caught 84, 110, 94 and 112 passes in his first four seasons, which is more than, well, anybody has ever done in the first four years of an NFL career.
Some have argued that there should have been more yards-per-catch or more touchdowns-per-catch from Landry, but a catch is a catch and it sure is better than a drop or a fumble or a run for no gain. Still, Landry was reliable.
And when Ryan Tannehill (remember him?) returns to the football field — soon, no really, soon — he’ll scan the field and see no number 14. That safety blanket is lost and we can’t say for sure how Tannehill will react, or if he’ll ever find one like Landry.
But Gase didn’t seem overly concerned when asked about all this at the NFL owner’s meetings.
“I’m looking at that as more of a group effort of we’re probably going to spread it out a little more,” Gase said. “Ball distribution will be a little more wide-ranging than one guy.”
Spread it around. Distribute the ball.
Very Patriot-like. And so, yes, the Dolphins signed one of those pesky Patriots away, Danny Amendola.
The Daily Dolphin was wondering if the Patriot Way works (OK, we weren’t really asking that question). But we were sort of wondering if good teams that go far in the playoffs actually typically have more balanced offenses.
For example, last season, Landry had 112 catches, which led the NFL. Kudos to Landry, a Pro Bowler again for his efforts.
But Miami’s next two leading receivers, Kenny Stills (58 catches) and DeVante Parker (57) totaled only 115 catches.
Stills makes $8 million a season. Parker is a former first-round draft pick. That disparity was unwarranted.
It makes much, much more sense for there to be a more even ball distribution between Kenny Stills-DeVante Parker-Danny Amendola-Albert Wilson-Kenyan Drake this season.
Why? You don’t need to be Tom Brady to use some logic and common sense here. In recent years, the ball was going to Landry. And it didn’t really matter if it was Tannehill or Matt Moore or Jay Cutler or David Fales, the ball was going to Landry, like they were two sides of a magnet.
Now, Miami can be less predictable. Mix in Jakeem Grant? Why not. Mix in Leonte Carroo? Maybe. Whatever tight end they draft? Perhaps. Frank Gore? Sure. Gase should be able to be a bit more creative. Miami’s receivers should be able to move around more and run a great variety of routes.
“We’ll probably have guys moving around in multiple spots,” Gase said. “I think between DeVante (Parker) and Kenny (Stills) – those two – and now you add Jakeem (Grant) in there and you add (Kenyan) Drake in there, now you’ve got Frank Gore. We’ve got a lot of guys that we’re going to need to get the ball to.”
This is not a problem. It might be part of a solution.
And a look into the receiving distribution of some of the NFL’s most successful playoff teams do show a tendency for greater equity.
Let’s look at the Patriots (sorry, but we have to do this).
New England’s top receiving targets in 2017: Rob Gronkowski (69), Brandin Cooks (65), Danny Amendola (61), James White (56).
Balance is boring. We don’t enjoy it when coaches talk about having a balanced offense of run and pass (actually, Gase doesn’t care to much about those stats only that the team is able to both run and pass as needed).
But sometimes, balance is, you know, sort of helpful.
The Eagles won the Super Bowl last season without one dominant receiver. Check it out: Zach Ertz (74), Nelson Agholor (62) and Alshon Jeffery (57).
It is true that Michael Thomas of New Orleans and Antonio Brown of Pittsburgh are start players who dominated the majority of the catches in their offenses. And that those teams did have successful playoff seasons.
It is also true that some of the players with the most NFL catches last season did not spark great team success: Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona), Keenan Allen (Chargers), DeAndre Hopkins (Texans), Golden Tate (Lions), Demaryius Thomas (Broncos) and A.J. Green (Bengals).
All of those players dominated catches. And none were seen on television during the playoffs.
The Dolphins made a decision not to pay a (dominant, reliable) slot receiver $14 million a year.
They also believe, it appears, there are some benefits to moving away from a one-receiver-dominant system.