9 of 66 DeVante Parker’s snaps in GIF form; he caught 6 of 9 targets.
There’s a 69 joke somewhere in there.
Anyone could’ve looked at the box score and told you Parker had a decent game. However, the first thing I went looking for in the tape is how did he look. Engaged? Prepared? Rusty? Aloof? It didn’t take long to see that DeVante was playing determined football. 1st drive, Frank Gore makes an off-tackle run and you see Parker come screen right and collides with Justin Reid, then Parker goes and seeks him out again. Gore cuts behind him and picks up a few extra yards.
Parker “rounds off” this in route, but there was so much space in the middle of the field and the cover guy gave enough cushion that it didn’t really matter in this “off-coverage” scenario. Sometimes rounding off the route ends up working to your benefit, as you see in this GIF, as I believe rounding off the route, if timed with the CB’s additional step into backpedal before changing direction, can take advantage of getting a better angle and separation towards the middle of the field.
Long story short: not the most perfect in route technique-wise in a vacuum, but it works just fine on this play.
The way Brock Osweiler whips his head around makes me think Parker was the #1 read in the progression, and DeVante had plenty of separation to boot. This is about as easy as pitch-and-catch gets in the NFL.
If Jesse Davis could’ve gotten to the deep safety, there was a crease for a TD. As it stands, Adam Gase’s favorite play gets admirable results here. The blocking unfurls, giving Parker a nice pocket to get upfield. Danny Amendola and Jakeem Grant both block well here and the design and execution are both solid overall.
Nuances are there: Parker driving upfield before coming back to the line of scrimmage, OL not getting too far upfield before Parker catches it (can’t be getting a stupid “ineligible man downfield” call), play called to the wide side of the field with more space for a screen to be effective, etc..
Parker literally sits down in the zone, making the catch as he plops down on his derriere. It’s hard to tell what would’ve happened on this play, but if this ball hits him on the inside hash he might be scoring on this one, too. The safety, in my opinion, reacts a bit late and takes an aggressive angle - an on-target throw here capitalizes on this, possibly with 6 points. The ball is behind, he drops his momentum to make a sliding-ish catch, and the Dolphins settle for a nice 17-yard gain.
The safety totally bites on Amendola, and Parker’s 9 route is open. In my opinion, illegal contact or defensive holding could’ve easily been called: before the pass, at the 47 yard line, Parker moves inside and the CB clearly uses his left arm/hand to slow him down. However, I don’t think it was enough to alter the outcome of the play - I believe it still would’ve been an incompletion.
Woulda, shoulda, coulda.
Osweiler looks to the wide side of the field, with the play design isolating him while all of the other skill position players were off to the right side of the line of scrimmage. He gets inside, and most importantly, he uses his size to create separation in short quarters. Osweiler fits it in a tight window and move the chains. DeVante wins this pseudo-jam by the CB, still within the legal contact window, he extends the left arm, almost like you might see a point guard in basketball do to a defender while getting an in-bounds pass.
That space created by the extending left arm allows Parker to get his mitts on the ball first and not allow the CB to deflect the pass.
Deep crossing route, Parker working behind the nickel LB. It’s a good ball by Osweiler. Parker is able to take the angle and get upfield for a few more yards. Too little, too late, but a great play nonetheless. This GIF doesn’t do the catch justice. The picture of this article captures the left-handed snag by Parker here.
I feel like I’m nitpicking here, but this is a ball you want to see him come down with. It’s a corner route and you want to see him use his size to wall off the defense there. At the very least, you’re creating a situation that can garner a defensive penalty if the safety has to fight through your body to make a play on the ball. Instead of planting earlier and getting vertical, he continues to drift horizontally, and that allows the safety to have the angle to make a play on the ball.
Usually these plays happen against the Dolphins, this time it’s in our favor. This fleeting glimpse of good luck, of course, would be swallowed by the impeding doom of a Houston butt-kicking. But as someone who soured on DeVante last year, I enjoyed digging into the tape and having something other than bitter flavors when discussing our former 1st round pick.