Ask anyone about how important it is to have a solid slot receiver in today's NFL, and they will tell you stories. Stories that not only influenced the progression of several modern day quarterbacks’ rise to fame and acclaim, but also speak to the true unsung heroes of modern day football. After all, where would Tom Brady be without Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, and a plethora of others that have graced the New England Patriots’ so called hallowed halls.
In fact, the Miami Dolphins own Ryan Tannehill has made his greatest strides while throwing to guys that should have primarily played in the slot role. Players like Brian Hartline, and Jarvis Landry. In fact, while they drafted a wide receiver with potential in the first round two years ago, and re-signed another young receiver this year, it is Landry making the headlines by breaking the records held by some of the greatest slot receivers to play the game.
Need proof? Look no further than last season’s Pro Bowl. While it was Stills’ nine touchdowns that helped the offense flourish, it was Landry's four scores and twelve hundred yards that earned him a nod in the NFL's cream of the crop talent show.
But when did the slot receiver first get its service number? While the invention and name is given credit to the guy we all know as the late and great Al Davis, the initial idea came almost ten years prior in the 1960's by his mentor Sid Gillman. His belief was that his team could get more accomplished by stretching the field with more than two receiving options, including a Tight End, as well as the two backs lined up. It was not until Al Davis took that second back on the field, and replaced him with a shifty receiver in between the tackle and outside receiver that the defined version of today’s slot receiver appeared. But even he credited his mentor for the initial concept.
Sid Gillman should actually be credited with a lot of modern day football’s pass happy orchestrations. Name a strong offensive minded coach in the last 20 years, or the concepts they "created," be it Al Davis, John Madden, the Air Coryelle, West Coast Offense predicated by Bill Walsh, and you will not only see a long list of accolades, but also understand that even Bill Bellichik owes his offensive prowess to someone.
Sid Gillman is that guy. A 1983 Hall of Fame inductee who quietly changed the way football is played. In fact, he is the only coach in the history of the of the sport to be inducted into both the NFL and College Football Halls of Fame.
So for those that say the Dolphins need a true number one receiver, let us note the idea that we may already have him, and his last name isn't Parker. It isn't Stills either. Instead, our number one receiver plays in one of the fastest growing positions in the wide receiver lineup, and we have Sid Gillman to thank for that.