Make it Wayne: How Reggie Wayne’s Presence at OTAs Affects the Dolphins
Retired All-Pro wide receiver Reggie Wayne was one of the many esteemed guests that joined the Miami Dolphins during OTAs & minicamp over the last few weeks. The long-time Indianapolis Colt was seen on the field decked out in Dolphins gear, where he was presumably assisting the team’s wide receiver corps in getting up to speed. Fellow former All-Pro wide receiver Wes Welker was also present during OTAs, though it seems that, based on media coverage, Wayne was somewhat more involved. Whatever the case may be, the presence of two receivers as respected as Reggie Wayne and Wes Welker just a couple of months after Peyton Manning visited the team is undoubtedly exciting. During Wednesday’s media session, Gase said Wayne was “One of those guys that you just love talking ball with and love being around… Any time any of our players can talk to guys of that caliber. … it’s great for our guys. They learn stuff.” Seasons are hardly won or lost in OTAs, but there are definitely a few reasons that we should be excited about Wayne’s appearance in Davie.
Reggie Wayne’s Accomplishments:
Reggie Wayne is a six time Pro Bowler and potential Hall of Famer for a reason. He is seventh All-time in career receptions and eighth All-time in career receiving yards, even though he played second fiddle to Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison for a Lion’s share of his career. Playing alongside Peyton Manning certainly had a lot to do with his incredible production, but it was Wayne’s work-ethic and that allowed him to enjoy such unprecedented success. As a possession receiver, he used elite route running and soft hands to make up for his relatively unimposing size and speed. It was often speculated that Reggie Wayne had one the most extensive route trees in NFL history, even after Peyton Manning was replaced with Andrew Luck. There are countless statistics that I could continue to drone on about concerning Wayne’s accomplishments as an NFL wide receiver, but alas, my editor has informed me that I’d be terminated with extreme prejudice if I ignore my 125 brown-nosing word limit.
What it means for the Wide Receivers:
So, how does Reggie Wayne’s tutoring impact Miami’s receiver corps? Well, Steven, the answer is really quite simple. As I stated previously, Wayne had one of the most extensive route trees in NFL history. He lined up at both the number one and number two positions and spent much of his time in the slot late in his career. This means that he has valuable knowledge to pass on to every receiver on the team, a sentiment that has been echoed by Coach Gase. One needs only to look at the success of some of Wayne’s understudies, most notably current Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon and Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who often accredit many of their accomplishments to Reggie Wayne’s guidance. After Wayne left the team in 2015, Hilton let the world know how he felt about his mentor: “Words can’t explain how I’m feeling. You taught me so much. You took me under your wing and showed me the way.” With the three presumptive starting wideouts, Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills all under the age of 25, Reggie Wayne could provide valuable intel on how to improve their respective performances.
What it means for the Coaching Staff:
Head coach Adam Gase has done an incredible job at improving the Miami Dolphins’ image around the league. The confidence that respected NFL figures have in him is unprecedented for a first year head coach; his close connection to Peyton Manning obviously is the most significant. One of, if not the best, decision that Gase has made was bringing on Clyde Christensen as his offensive coordinator. Christensen has been coaching football for over 30 years, most significantly as the wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts during the majority of the Peyton Manning era. He brings the experience and connections that such a young coaching staff can really benefit from. Wayne is the latest such connection. After Manning, Wayne is perhaps the most prestigious NFL figure that Christensen has coached.
Bringing in mentors that succeeded as players in the NFL is paramount to enhancing team cohesiveness. It helps players buy into the coaching staff’s message and helps bridge the gap between the coaching staff and the rest of the team. They have a certain ability to relate to current players in a way that many coaches simply aren’t able to do. Personal experiences and tips are often just as valuable as knowledge of any playbook or game plan. Reggie Wayne’s experience with Peyton Manning, who influenced Adam Gase’s scheme immeasurably, allows him to act as both a former player and as a coach.
What it means for the Miami Dolphins:
I’ve already spoken ad nauseam about the value that Reggie Wayne’s visit has in the short-term. Having a personable veteran dispense knowledge to the players boosts morale and brings positive attention to the organization as a whole. But, the long-term benefits are just as valuable. As I discussed in my article detailing the benefits of Peyton Manning’s visit, recent moves like signing locker room leader Cameron Wake to a contract extension, bringing in Peyton Manning for an afternoon, and now having Reggie Wayne at OTAs should pay dividends down the line. While I have hope that Peyton Manning joins the coaching staff after this year, I think it more feasible that Reggie Wayne takes his coaching talents to South Beach. The most recent and appropriate example of a former All-Pro joining the ranks of NFL coaches is Ed Reed. The future Hall of Fame safety (who was Reggie Wayne’s roommate at the University of Miami) recently joined the Buffalo Bills’ coaching staff as their assistant defensive backs coach. I can easily see Wayne function in a similar role as the assistant wide receivers coach if he wishes to continue his football career under his own long-time coach Clyde Christensen.
The Dolphins are a perfect fit for Wayne and vice versa. Wayne lives in South Florida, and his induction into the University of Miami’s Hall of Fame a few years ago is indicative of his place in Miami sports history. Gase and Christensen’s hard-working yet relaxed coaching style are appealing to both players and staff alike. Adding a man of Wayne’s caliber at any level can only yield positive results. Not to mention that hiring Reggie Wayne would be adding yet another connection to Peyton Manning. At this point it sounds like fantasy football in 2008, but I can legitimately envision a Dolphins’ coaching staff that includes both Reggie Wayne and Peyton Manning in 2017. Having those two NFL legends on staff in any capacity to go along with Adam Gase and Clyde Christensen would certainly make the Dolphins’ offense a force to be reckoned with.