I've had enough talk of Marshawn Lynch for the time being; here to help change the subject are the three fine AFC East bloggers we chat with each week in our fourth installment of "Around the AFC East". This week's festivities wrap up as we chat with Matty I, head blogger over at The Phinsider.
The Dolphins have completely overhauled their receiving corps since last season; former starters Chris Chambers and Marty Booker are no longer with the team. Can the duo of Ted Ginn and Ernest Wilford do enough to replace those guys, or will your young starting quarterback be looking for more help?
The Phinsider: Well, I think the first thing I should mention is that being more productive than Chris Chambers and Marty Booker really isn't that much of a challenge. In 2006, their last full season as teammates in Miami, they combined for 114 receptions, 1424 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Hardly tough numbers to beat. While I'm not as confident that the starting two receivers in 2008 will combine for 10+ touchdowns, I wouldn't bet against them eclipsing both the receptions and yards totals.
But here's the thing. I'm confident that Ted Ginn will become a very good receiver; likely never great, but very good. And I don't think that a 60-70 reception season with 900-1,000 yards is too much of a reach for him in 2008 (contingent upon at least average QB play). Ginn's reportedly having a very solid off-season, is becoming a better route runner, and is becoming more aggressive. That should be good enough if you combine that with his speed and hands (he really impressed me with his reliable hands in 2007; I counted just 1 drop for him last year). And new WR coach, Karl Dorrell says of Ginn, "there is no question the skill is there for Ginn to be a legitimate No. 1 receiver. He's very smooth, quick, has good feet. He has all the tools to be a great player. He knows he needs to be a bigger factor in what we do."
The other starting receiver spot will likely be, like you said, Ernest Wilford. And Wilford has been very impressive if you trust mini-camp and OTA reports from the media. His great size and terrific hands is just what this offense needs. He's also a big, physical red-zone target for whoever the QB will be, which is something the Dolphins have lacked for years. But don't sleep on Derek Hagan. If the man can just catch the ball with more consistency, he can be a decent #3 wide receiver. Concentration has always been an issue with Derek, though, since he entered the league. However, early reports are that he's catching the ball well in practice. If that can translate to more consistency in games, then I think our top 3 receivers in '08 will be an upgrade over '07.
After the top 3, though, I get very worried. But that's a discussion for another time.
Anyone else notice that, outside of New England, the wide receivers/passing attacks in the AFC East are pretty awful? We're well aware of our issues; the Jets struggled with only Laveranues Coles as a main target; and the Dolphins were worse than both of those attacks combined.
With that said, while I don't think the Dolphins have a receiving threat that will scare the opposition (offensively, anyway - it's a different story with Ginn on special teams), I like the mix of talents that Parcells, Ireland & Co. have put together in their top three of Ginn, Wilford and Hagan. There's speed, there's physicality and size, and there's the ability to move the chains. But all three will have to be on their game week in and week out for the Dolphins to have a solid passing attack, and with Ginn's inexperience, I don't see that happening too often.
That wraps up another edition of Around the AFC East. If you'd like to get back to talking about a certain Mr. Lynch now, you're more than welcome to.