The Dolphins current three-game winning streak features two outstanding offensive performances and one malodorous mess. Now let’s look at the production of Dolphins tight end Charles Clay in those games.
In the outstanding games, Sunday’s 37-0 blasting of San Diego and the Oct. 19 27-13 win against Chicago, Clay caught nine passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Those were his two statistically best games of the season and his only two touchdowns this season. The Dolphins poor offensive game of the three, last Saturday against Jacksonville, Clay caught only one pass for 1 yard.
Coincidence or correlation?
The Dolphins scored 38 points on Oakland with Clay catching two passes for 32 yards, but Oakland’s an anomaly as the worst team in the league.
Clay opened Sunday’s scoring by getting open in the back left corner of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Like most NFL and college teams, the Dolphins red zone success rate tends to rise when they get the tight ends involved.
In fact, when wide receiver Jarvis Landry was asked if this was a perfect game, Landry pointed out how many times the Dolphins settled for field goals in the red zone. On the first such drive, they didn’t throw the ball to Clay. They tried on third and goal from the 7 before the second field goal. Tannehill suffered his customary deflection when Hialeah High graduate Corey Liuget swatted the throw for Clay.
Clay’s five catches and 65 yards Sunday were game highs, which might seem low in this era of NFL armball but demonstrated how Tannehill spread the ball around.
“I feel like that’s more troubling for a defense, when they have to worry about so many guys getting open,” Clay said.
“I think the protection Ryan had today gave him the opportunity enough to go to the second guy, the third guy on some plays, where, maybe, if you don’t have that, and we’re not making those third down conversions,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said.
Clay analyzed his own game Sunday as, “It was all right. I did some things well, definitely did some things well. But I’ve got to capitalize on more of the opportunities I get. I won’t sit here and just beat myself up when you win a game like that. But I’ve always been hard on myself so it’s about things I can do better.”
As for what he did well, Clay said, “My pass protection was pretty good, I thought. Being detailed on my routes was pretty good. And running with the ball after I felt was pretty good.”
The opportunity to which he probably most wished he could replay was a second down play from the Chargers 21. Clay got open up the right sideline, but Tannehill’s pass glanced off his fingertips in the end zone. As a practical team matter, that became irrelevant the next play when Rishard Matthews caught a 21-yard touchdown pass off a Tannehill scramble.