In a Dolphins season that has sunk out of realistic playoff reach and pulled coach Joe Philbin under with it, a shining bright spot has been rookie wide receiver/return man Jarvis Landry out of LSU.
Not sure if a second-round pick might be called a steal, but, if so, Landry qualifies.
He tops the first-year résumé of new general manager Dennis Hickey.
Landry has 71 catches for 672 yards and five touchdowns. He also is one of only three players (and the only rook) to rank among the league’s top 10 in both kickoff-return and punt-return average.
His 29.7 kick-return average would be Miami’s best since Duriel Harris in 1976. He already has broken the club rookie record for catches by a wide receiver; it was 67, by Jack Clancy, set in expansion-era 1967.
He still has an outside shot at the club marks for most yards (883) and TD catches (seven) by a rookie, both set by Chris Chambers in 2001.
Only one other player in Miami’s 49-year history has led the team in receptions, kickoff and punt returns in the same season. It was Wes Welker, in 2006.
Most seasons, Landry would be in the conversation for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
This season, he probably won’t get a single vote.
If timing is everything, just say Landry picked a bad year to be a rookie wideout — because this might be the best crop ever.
By most estimations Landry would rank fifth behind the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. (71 catches for 972 yards and nine TDs), the Panthers’ Kelvin Benjamin (67-952-9), the Buccaneers’ Mike Evans (59-948-11) and the Bills’ Sammy Watkins (59-850-5). And Beckham missed four games with a hamstring injury.
With two games to play, we should have at least three and maybe four rookies top 1,000 receiving yards. The season record for that is two, set in 1986.
Beckham has become the heavy favorite to win the offensive rookie award, and understandably. I just hope voters don’t too casually discount the combined 1,678 receiving and return yards (and counting) that Landry has put up.
▪ Playoff numbers entering Week 16: 21 teams still alive, 11 eliminated. AFC clinched — Broncos, Colts, Patriots.
Can clinch this week — Bengals, Ravens, Steelers. NFC clinched — Cardinals. Can clinch this weekend — Cowboys, Lions, Packers, Saints, Seahawks.
▪ Pro Bowl fan voting ended with four Dolphins in top 10 league-wide at their position: defensive end Cam Wake (third), cornerback Brent Grimes (fifth), returner Jarvis Landry (10th) and guard Mike Pouncey (10th).
Teams will be announced on Tuesday.
▪ Updated Super Bowl adds, via Bovada: Patriots back on top at 3-1, then Seahawks 13-4 and Broncos and Packers both 5-1.
Aaron Rodgers is still the big MVP fave at 1-3.
▪ The five passers with 30-plus touchdowns already ties a season record, and five other quarterbacks have at least 27 with two games to play.
▪ This marks Denver’s 23rd consecutive season with a Monday Night Football appearance, the longest active streak. Record is 28 consecutive MNF seasons by Raiders (1970-97).
▪ Chiefs have thrown no TD passes to a wide receiver in 17 games in a row. That ties the Super Bowl-era record shared with the 2008-09 Browns and 1971-72 Broncos.
▪ You can already place a bet on whether Super Bowl halftime performer Katy Perry’s first song would be “Roar.” Oh, how I wish I were kidding.