Here's the second part of this decade-ending series brought to you by El Peezy himself. I'd like it start it off by wishing everybody a Happy New Years and hoping everyone has a fun and safe night. But, let's get to business, shall we?
The Miami Dolphins currently lack that "go-to" guy on third downs, and when we are forced to go airborn. We could make a good argument for Davone Bess, but... he's not like how Chris Chambers was for us, although he might be in the near future. The thing is, this decade of football for the Miami Dolphins hasn't been anything extraordinary for our receivers. Take a look at the statistics of our receivers (WR and TE only) who have made an impact for at least two seasons for Miami. Note: I added Brian Hartline to the list to show how his satisfying rookie year looks to some of this decade's best in aqua.
For Orande Gadsden, Tony Martin (not listed), and OJ McDuffie (not listed), the beginning was the end. Martin enjoyed a 1999 season going over the 1000 yd mark, but eventually fell off the wagon by 2001. Like Martin, Gadsden enjoyed success in 1999 and also 2000, but by 2002, lost production. It didn't help Gadsden's case either knowing that the future was from Wisconsin. The Badger we call Chris Chambers emerged as the go-to guy after Gadsden. Oronde only played in six games in 2002, where he collected only 228 yards on sixteen grabs. His 2003 year was very forgettable. He appeared in only six games in that season too, collecting just 48 yards on four catches. Leslie Shepherd had a solid year behind Gadsden in 2000, getting four touchdowns on just thirty five catches.
These receivers (McDuffie, Gadsden, Martin) were from the Marino-era Dolphins of the late 90's. The new batch of receivers had Jay Fiedler throwing the pigskin. These new receivers were Chris Chambers, James McKnight, and Randy McMichael. McKnight was solid for only three years, but even by his third season (2003), his production plummeted. He had two 80 yard receptions, other than that, was nothing incredible.
Chris Chambers became the Receiver of the Decade for the Miami Dolphins. He was over 800 yards in four of his first five seasons. He eclipsed the 1000 yard mark in his fifth Miami season in 2005. In that ’05 season, Chambers also set his highs in receptions with eighty two and tied his rookie year’s mark of eleven touchdowns. He is the only Dolphin to reach 1000 receiving yards in a season this decade. That’s nothing to be proud of, but at least we got one. His 43 touchdowns top all other Dolphins as well. His statistics don’t lie: he was the most successful Dolphin receiver of the decade. He made an instant impact in this league, tallying those eleven rookie year touchdowns. Ted Ginn is still yet to reach six receiving touchdowns. He was supposed to be "the next Chris Chambers" in terms of production in Miami.
Working as a tight end with Chambers, for the most part, was Randy McMichael. McMichael was a very productive tight end, especially in 2004. That year, he had more catches than Chambers. He posted a solid 791 yards on the year—a career high. McMichael was second in most receiving yards and touchdowns during this decade. Chambers and McMichael were teammates from 2002-2006. The Dolphins had winning seasons in three of those five seasons. 2006, as we know, wasn’t the best production year. McMike had his second best statistic season as a Dolphin, but Chambers failed to reach 700 yards after breaking 1000 the year before.
To accompany Chambers during 2003 and 2004 was Derrius Thompson. He was good for only 359 yards both years, it seems. As a #2, you’d expect more numbers out of Thompson, but with McMike and Chambers being the go-to guys, he found himself four touchdowns in the 2004 season. After Thompson was the David Boston, who did nothing for Miami. And then Wes Welker. The man every coach wants on his team. Well, we had him. After having two productive seasons, we let him go. The Pats get him, we feel the burn. Moving on.
Marty Booker was consistent during his four year tenure in Miami. He had more yards that Chris Chambers in 2006, with 747yards and six touchdowns as well. Booker’s numbers also went south when the Dolphins went 1-15. Booker was the #2 behind Chambers, though Miami was trying to incorporate Derek Hagan and Ted Ginn into play. With Miami struggling, Booker put up decent numbers. However, decent numbers in the NFL isn’t enough sometimes. After we shipped Chambers to San Diego, it gave Booker a chance to shine as the only experienced WR. He didn’t help his cause. We released him.
So, Chambers gone, McMichael a Ram, Booker gone, Welker gone. Time to start fresh. Dolphins went fishing in the draft to find the next Miami stud. We went with Derek Hagan (2006) and Ted Ginn (2007). Hagan was released at the beginning of the 2008 season, lasting only five games into that year. Ted Ginn has found most success in the return game, most notably against the Jets this season. However, his numbers were more productive in two seasons than Wes Welker’s. Somehow, someway, its true. Between the Bills last year, and the Jets this year, Ginn is best at having great games against rivals. And despite the Ginn debates and hate… I’d rather see him shine in a meaningful game like a divisional game than a team like Oakland or St. Louis.
Greg Camarillo came from San Diego and has been extremely reliable and consistent. His numbers don’t resemble his talent. He, more than anyone, reminds me of a Wes Welker of today. With Camarillo, is Davone Bess. Bess is awesome and a steal. He’s undrafted out of Hawaii and posted the third most receptions for a rookie receiver in 2008 behind Eddie Royal and Desean Jackson, but also has the second most receptions all-time for an undrafted rookie in his first year. The future is bright for Bess.
Fasano and Martin—on a quick note, are just hard workers. Martin was released during the 2009 offseason. Fasano was one of Chad Pennington’s favorite targets in 2008. The two combined for seven touchdowns.
As you see, Hartline is a typical Miami Dolphin receiver of this decade. His numbers are good, but nothing outstanding. Granted, he is just a rookie, but someone needs to emerge as the go-to guy as we begin a new decade of football. With Henne’s arm, he’ll throw all game if he has to. The opportunity is there for these young receivers. Summary of this post in a sentence: Good receivers, not good enough.