A six-pack of Dolphins notes on a Friday:
• DeVante Parker ranks only 63rd in the NFL in receiving yards (406) and has only one touchdown, but the Dolphins are hopeful that Sunday’s five-catch, 103-yard game against the Chargers will lead to a breakthrough.
And for the first time, the Dolphins publicly acknowledged this week what a lot of fans suspect with Parker: He’s the key for this offense taking the next step.
“We think he can be one of the top guys in the league,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said Thursday. “We see it every day, a big catch here and a big catch there. A big thing is his health, and keeping him healthy, and keeping him up at full speed, and just the consistency. We need a consistent DeVante Parker, where it’s week-in, and week-out where people fear him. He took over the game in his way last week and gave us a huge lift.
“I think he is really key to us going from solid to good on offense. I think he’s the guy, his big plays. Those are the plays that take you to whatever that next level is, one notch better. And minus those big plays makes it harder.
“I think we all have felt all along that if we get the running game going and then now your play action (is more effective). Jarvis (Landry) is going to make his plays – he makes them every week – and then all of a sudden now, you’ve got the two guys outside that can really run and DeVante jumping up and making a big catch. Now you’ve really got something. You’ve just got to get all the parts functioning at the same time and working at the same time week, after week, after week. Then we’re going to get this franchise … this offense, where we want it to go.”
• Here’s how Parker has improved off the field:
“He may have been a little inconsistent as far as his preparation throughout the week earlier in the season to where one week we’d have a really good week, everything was right on cue, he did everything right as far what was going into his body and how he’s practicing,” coach Adam Gase said this week. “I think the last three weeks, for sure, he has been very consistent. He has put himself – him and (Wide Receivers Coach) Shawn Jefferson and (Assistant to the Head Coach Jay) Kaiser has actually been involved in this too with the sports science guys – is they’re on a very strict regimen as far as what they’re doing every day.
“They set up his schedule to where he has been very consistent with that, and you can see that has really paid off for him, because every day looks the same. I think the fact that he has really embraced that – and he has done a good job of making sure the recovery, sleep, hydration, the way he’s eating – everything he’s doing is really paying off for him right now. He needs to continue doing that throughout the rest of the season.”
• If Jay Ajayi maintains his 5.7 per-carry average, it would be the third-highest for an NFL running back this decade. Adrian Peterson and CJ Spiller averaged 6.0 in 2012.
• Gase knew as soon as he watched tape of Damien Williams that he wanted him on his team, and he has become a better player under Gase, his per carry average rising to 4.1 (from 3.7 and 3.4 his first two seasons) and per reception average rising from 6.8 to 12.9. “The more opportunities I get, I open more eyes,” he said.
One teammate said that Williams is among the most respected players on the team because of his toughness.
• So how do the Dolphins prepare to face a rookie quarterback (the Rams’ Jared Goff) who’s making his first NFL start?
“It makes it tough when you have this limited information,” Gase said. “You can always try to go back (and) look at college tapes or go back to our college scouts evaluations of him, but it makes it tough, because you’re so used to having so much information on almost every player that you go against no matter what position they play. And right now, obviously, our information is very limited.”
What about watching his preseason tape?
“A lot of times in the preseason, you’re not really getting too exotic, and you’re trying to run basic things,” Gase said. “Not only him being a young player and him trying to get his feet wet in the preseason, but the guys that he’s playing with – a lot of those guys are probably not even on the roster or younger guys themselves – that are trying to get a feel for what they were doing offensively. So, it is tough to just look at that and be like, ‘This is exactly who he is,’ because once again, you don’t have a lot of information.”
• Ndamukong Suh has risen to third among PFF’s ranking of all defensive tackles this season, behind only Aaron Donald and Calais Campbell, and Gase told Los Angeles media this week: “I don’t know if I’ve even seen a defensive tackle play as consistent, as hard, been available as much as he has been for us this season. You can see it in his preparation – the way that he works on his off day or the Mondays, the way he prepares himself.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been around a guy that size that moves as well as he does and pursues the ball with a purpose. He’s a special player. I never thought I’d be around a guy that athletic, that big, that plays interior defensive line the way that he has been playing.”
For my second Friday post from this afternoon, with notes on Jakeem Grant, Hassan Whiteside, the Marlins and an NFL change at NBC, plus weekend football TV maps, please click here. Please follow me on Twitter (@flasportsbuzz) to get my links quickly.