Dolphins faithful, oh I wish to feel the pure exuberance you’re probably experiencing right about now as the adrenaline pumps through your veins. With wide receiver Tyreek Hill in town and a roster primed to make noise within a deep AFC East by placing Hill opposite Jaylen Waddle, you have more than enough reason to celebrate. Oh, and don’t blink.
On the surface, it’s a heck of a haul for a player still in the prime of his career. However, as we pull the lens in closer for a clearer look at how Hill fits within the Miami offense and the level of talent and production around him, there are still some lingering doubts given the concerns surrounding quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Everything’s in place for the third-year quarterback. The team re-signed tight end Mike Gesicki, signed wide receiver Cedrick Wilson away from Dallas, shored up what could be an impressive young defense and now, the heaping amount of icing to top the cake: Hill. For Tagovailoa, the 2022 season is a 17-game interview and prove it period and if Miami fails this fall, the finger of blame surely will fall on the oft-injured and oft-criticized quarterback.
With Hill now in the Dolphins’ aqua threads, and newly minted Head Coach Mike McDaniel calling the shots on offense, you can expect fireworks, to be sure. The three-time All-Pro wide receiver should allow McDaniel to dive deep into his brainstorming process of unique ways to get the rock to both Hill and the electric second-year talent in Waddle in open space. After lapping the test track with supposed-speedster Will Fuller, who amassed just 26 receiving yards in two games last season, acquiring a sparkling new V-12 Ferrari with all the specs in the form of Hill should provide a sense of optimism that Tagovailoa will be able to wrangle his lofty expectations and lead the Dolphins to a substantial increase in wins.
At Alabama, Tagovailoa was arguably the same talent he is now: accurate over the middle portions of the field, relatively cautious with the football and a game manager in relative terms. However, what made him a top-five pick out of Alabama, and why he stepped in for Jalen Hurts in the National Championship game, was his interest to stretch the field vertically to wide receivers DeVonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy and Waddle on a consistent basis. Placing the vertical threat in a secondary’s mind keeps defenders honest, and allowed Alabama to consistently face six or seven-man boxes to account for his arm talent and cast of riches on the outside – regardless if the ball actually landed complete.
But, as we’ve seen over the last few campaigns, his knack for taking checkdowns, feeding the shallow areas of the offense and disregarding shot plays within passing concepts has placed major limitations on the ceiling of an offense that was also unable to run the ball due to the amount of bodies focused on stopping the run first. A lot of that goes into the aforementioned level of talent around him. Asking him to sling the football downfield “just because” is bad business and quite frankly, the wrong way to develop a young quarterback. But that attitude *should* change with Hill in the lineup.
For Miami’s sake, it’s a giant step in the right direction and what Grier hopes will be the optimization of a pass-friendly offense under McDaniel. While the saying you can ‘lead a horse to water but can’t force him to drink’ remains true when it comes to the immediate scope of the Dolphins’ premier offensive talent, only time will tell if adding a true game-changing talent like Hill will ultimately move the needle past mediocrity.