Becoming a Factor: How the Dolphins Got DeVante Parker Involved in San Diego
After a strong showing in Week 2 at New England, DeVante Parker had become a surprising afterthought in the Dolphins’ offense. However, in a game where the Dolphins were going to need their playmakers excel, Parker shined bright, helping the ‘Fins move to 5-4 and enter the midst of the wild card hunt. Adam Gase has leaned on Jay Ajayi during his team’s four-game win streak, but the road win at San Diego provided us with a glimpse at the next evolution of Gase’s offense. Ryan Tannehill was able to pick apart the Chargers’ secondary when needed, and in an interesting development, DeVante Parker showed that he still has the potential to find a high level of success within Miami’s system.
Here’s how Parker found himself making play after play in Sunday’s 31-24 victory.
1st and 10 at MIA 36
(9:48-1st) 14-yard reception
On his first reception of the afternoon, Ryan Tannehill hits DeVante Parker on a slant route. The corner attempts to jam Parker at the line, but fails to do so as Parker is able to use his strength to his advantage. This play becomes a simple pass and catch between Tannehill and Parker that goes for a first-down.
These quick reads are a staple of Gase’s offense, and involving Parker on those plays shows a desire to integrate him into the core of Miami’s approach.
2nd and 9 at SD 49
(8:31-1st) 10-yard reception
The call to have Jarvis Landry motion right is what makes this play-action bubble screen work. Landry motioning forces the weak-side linebacker to shift out and cover him in the slot; MarQueis Gray and Landry then set a two man screen, which gives Parker the needed space to rack up a solid 10-yard pickup.
While it was a good sign to see Parker involved early, it wasn’t a guarantee his number would continued to be called throughout the game. Against the Browns in Week 3, Parker came out playing inspired ball, and his QB looked for him constantly, leading to his only touchdown reception of the year. Fortunately for the Dolphins and their fans, Parker continued to be involved as the game wore on.
2nd and 13 at MIA 34
(5:40-2nd) 14-yard reception
DeVante Parker runs dig route across the middle of the field. Parker beats both the corner and linebacker covering him on this play. An easy first-down conversion, once again showing the type of difficulties a receiver like Parker can provide opposing defenses.
Seeing Parker run these type of routes so smoothly lead you to believe his hamstrings are finally nearing 100-percent. Parker’s hamstrings have been ailing him since the start of training camp, and even forced him to miss the season opener at Seattle. In recent weeks, Parker’s hamstrings have landed him on the injury report as Questionable, leading many to believe Parker hasn’t been playing at full-strength.
1st and 10 at MIA 48
(4:57-2nd) 9-yard reception
DeVante Parker runs a dig route across the middle of the field; Parker beats both the corner and linebacker covering him on this play. This results in an easy first-down conversion, once again showing the type of mismatches a receiver like Parker can provide opposing defenses.
Seeing Parker run this type of route so smoothly leads you to believe that his hamstring injuries are healing, bringing him closer to 100-percent. Parker’s hamstrings have been ailing him since the start of training camp and even forced him to miss the season opener at Seattle. In recent weeks, Parker’s nagging injuries have landed him on the injury report as questionable, leading many to believe Parker hasn’t been playing at full-strength. Against San Diego, it was clear based on his route selection and burst that DeVante Parker was ready to roll.
1st and 10 at MIA 25
(4:04-4th) 56-yard reception
Along with the beauty to Stills before halftime, this was the other throw by Ryan Tannehill that lent itself to the rave reviews drawn by the QB in Week 10. This pass was completed to DeVante Parker, who also deserves his fair share of credit for this completion. On this play, Jarvis Landry goes in motion, drawing his man into press coverage in the slot. This results in DeVante Parker’s man backing up and providing Parker with a cushion. Ryan Tannehill hangs in the pocket long enough to allow Parker to beat his man on a double-move deep down field.
Coming out of Louisville, Parker was known more for his ability to be able to high-point the ball and be a constant red zone threat. However, since entering the league, he’s shown on numerous occasions why many pegged him as a number one receiver when he entered the draft.
Parker’s Other Targets:
1st and 10 at SD 43
On this play, DeVante Parker is given a cushion and Ryan Tannehill decides to go with a play that had already worked previously in the game: an out-route for Parker. While it was encouraging to see Tannehill continue to look for Parker in situations that favored the 6’3 receiver, they did get lucky on this snap. The corner anticipates the play and jumps the route; if he were to have timed his jump better, that would have been six points for the Dolphins’ opponent.
2nd and 11 at MIA 19
This was a good play-call considering the down and distance, it just wasn’t executed properly. As you can see, a constant theme throughout the day was getting the ball to Parker when he was in favorable one-on-one matchups. Here, Ryan Tannehill attempts to get the ball to Parker on an out-route; this out-route was the longest one of the three ran by Parker.
3rd and 18 at MIA 33
(6:08-4th) 26-yard reception wiped out by flag
While this play didn’t count, it was executed brilliantly by Ryan Tannehill and DeVante Parker. Despite a holding call against Ja’Wuan James, it was encouraging to watch Parker go up and high-point the football. Being able to high-point the ball was just one part of his heralded skills coming out of Louisville, and it was clearly on display here.
It was great to see Parker’s fire after coming down with the pass, especially considering the questions that he has faced regarding his level of heart in the past.
3rd and Goal at SD 9
This play was a welcomed sight; since the Dolphins drafted Parker, there has been talk about his ability to become a consistent red zone threat. While we haven’t seen this materialize, it’s good to see Adam Gase calling Parker’s number in the red-zone.
Week 10 proved to be Parker’s second-best outing of the year, only topped by his season-debut in New England where he caught eight balls for 106-yards on 13 targets. While many thought that the Week 2 showing at Gillette Stadium would be a springboard for Parker, that never truly came to fruition. However, now that Parker seems to be recovering from nagging injuries and discovering a new role in Gase’s offense, maybe we’ll see a second-half surge much like the one we witnessed during his rookie year. If his performance against San Diego is the beginning of newfound consistency for the former first-rounder, DeVante Parker could be a new, much-needed springboard for the Dolphins’ offensive success.