Miami Dolphins star Tyreek Hill (pictured) said his union with Jaylen Waddle created the fastest wide receiver duo in NFL history. Photo courtesy of the Miami Dolphins
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla., Aug. 4 (UPI) — Miami Dolphins coaches say they believe Tua Tagovailoa can complete any pass he’s asked to make this coming season, despite sometime criticism of his deep throws. And they liken his new pass catchers to a fleet of yachts.
Superlatives have been flying, almost as fast as wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle can sprint, through two weeks of Dolphins training camp at Baptist Health Training Complex in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Coach Mike McDaniel said he needs to see more to agree with Hill’s assessment that the Dolphins’ top two pass catchers are the fastest duo of wide receivers in NFL history. It’s undeniable that they are making Dolphins defensive backs stay on their toes in camp.
“I’m definitely not going to say that they’re not, but I’m definitely not going to say they are either,” McDaniel said this week. “That’s for them to prove, which they know and they’re excited about, but that’s for them to prove on Sundays.”
McDaniel said Hill is the fastest recorded player so far at camp, which started last week. He clocked in at more than 23 mph, according to GPS data recorded on his training vest.
For reference, running back Raheem Mostert’s 23.09 mph in 2020 is the fastest speed clocked by an NFL ball carrier over the last five seasons.
Hill recorded a 23.24 mph run in 2016, which remains the fastest since NFL Next Gen stats started recording data that year.
Mostert and Hill, who joined the Dolphins this off-season, as well as Waddle, are in constant competition to record the fastest time in practice. McDaniel announces the winner at every team meeting.
Waddle recorded a 21.8 mph play in 2021, tied with running back Derrick Henry for the sixth-fastest in the NFL.
“When me and [Waddle] are on the same side of the field, it will be like a Lambo and a Ferrari,” Hill said.
Jaylen Waddle reached a top speed of 21.80 mph on his 57-yd reception from Tua Tagovailoa, tied for the fourth-fastest speed by a ball-carrier on a play this season behind only:
Marquez Valdes-Scantling: 22.09 mph
Jonathan Taylor: 22.05 & 21.83 mph#CARvsMIA | #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/WhwYSaKf4S— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 28, 2021
Reason would lead you to believe that if the Dolphins roster the fastest wide receivers in league history, no coordinator has ever schemed an offense for such players. But McDaniel laughed off any assertion that his offensive engineering is made more difficult.
“It’s kind of like the difficulties the guy who has three yachts has, deciding which yacht to pick,” McDaniel said. “There’s not difficulties with that. It’s very desirable.
“We’re very fortunate. I think competitive players that are willing to go out and say, ‘Yeah, we’re the fastest in the league’ — those are guys that are competitive that are willing and want to prove it. You don’t need a shed a tear for our problems.”
The defense led the Dolphins last season, when the team failed to reach the playoffs for the fifth-consecutive year and 11th time in 12 seasons. The 2021 team, which shuffled starting quarterback duties between veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tagovailoa, ranked 17th in passing yards and 20th in passing scores.
Part of the concern entering this season has been Tagovailoa’s ability to further access the deep passing component of his game. The third-year quarterback ranked 33rd last season in yards per attempt and in passing plays that covered 20 yards or more.
Tyreek Hill’s success as a deep receiver correlates with his elite speed.
Since 2018, Hill leads the NFL with 45 touches as a ball carrier reaching 20+ MPH, 28 more than the next closest player (Saquon Barkley). pic.twitter.com/hhQ6MLtwCT— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) March 23, 2022
Hill’s presence should help catapult those long attempts. Dolphins coaches also are confident that Tagovailoa is capable of airing it out.
“I know the question keeps coming up about about him throwing the deep ball, and from what I have seen up to this point, there’s not going to be any issues with the throws that he’s going to be asked to make,” Dolphins quarterbacks coach and pass game coordinator Darrell Bevell said Wednesday.
Additional playmakers at skill positions, off-season offensive line improvements and more experience for Tagovailoa should result in a much more prolific offense.
Tight end Mike Gesicki, a 6-foot-6 target, is another player who can’t be forgotten, Dolphins coaches say.
“You need a Ford F-150 to bring the yacht to the dock right? He will fit in just fine,” Dolphins assistant head coach and tight ends coach Jon Embree said. “You know, with the run game, the play-action and the option, it will happen.”
McDaniel’s reputation as having an innovative offensive mind will play a role in Tagovailoa’s development. McDaniel previously worked with Robert Griffin III and Matt Ryan, as well us other quarterbacks, who have utilized electric offensive weaponry.
He also brings the reputation as a mastermind for dominant rushing attacks, which typically use multiple running backs to run over and around opponents. Mostert and Chase Edmonds are expected to be the Dolphins’ top backs this season, but coaches contend that that competition is ongoing.
“They all want to be the lead dog,” Dolphins running back coach Eric Studesville said Wednesday. “They’re able to have that mentality and still work with each other. And that’s a big thing because we’re going to need more than one at some point in time.”
Studesville admitted that he doesn’t know “how it’s going to go,” when asked if the situation will lead to one of the players receiving a large majority of the carries. That production value will be weighed with opportunities throughout the season.
The Dolphins will host the New England Patriots in their first regular-season game Sept. 11 in Miami Gardens. The Patriots had the second-best pass defense in the NFL last season, but lost Pro Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson this off-season in free agency.
“I really like how we got answers for everything,” Waddle said. “Everything a defense could do, we pretty much have answers for it. That’s what I like. There are a lot of options for each and everybody to make plays and share the ball.”