Tag Archive for: Mike Gesicki

Will Fuller

Dolphins WR Will Fuller making long-awaited return

It’s been a long time coming. Not since Thanksgiving of last year has veteran wide receiver Will Fuller officially touched an NFL football field. Finally, on Monday, Fuller dressed fully and participated with his new Miami Dolphins teammates in practice.

“I haven’t played a game in a long time – since I guess Thanksgiving.” Fuller said on Monday. “That’s just something I have to work out through practice and shake that rust off. I feel pretty good, though. I’m out here running routes today and I feel pretty good.”

As of now, Fuller is the only wide receiver who hasn’t had much of a chance to work with QB Tua Tagovailoa. They did spend some time together in the offseason, running basic routes and building timing. But all of that was done on their own time. Now, everyone will get a chance to see what Fuller brings to the offense designed specifically for Tagovailoa. The very same offense that already boasts the likes of Albert Wilson, Mike Gesicki, and electrifying rookie Jaylen Waddle, among others.

“This is probably one of the deepest and talented receiving corps that I’ve been a part of, just as far as all of the guys.” Fuller said. “We all can get it done and of course the tight ends as well and the running backs. It’s been fun to watch these guys. I’m excited to get out there with them and put my best out there.”

Now with two consecutive days of practice under his belt, signs point to Fuller finally being healthy. Injuries have been the story of his career so far. His talent is undeniable, and his speed is deadly. Unfortunately, it’s his health that’s the biggest question mark. Since being drafted in the first round by the Houston Texans in 2016, Fuller has missed 27 games in five seasons thanks to nagging injuries.

“Those guys are working hard to get back.” Head coach Brian Flores said on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t say there’s any worry, it’s more they’re working to get back. They’ll be out there today. From that standpoint I know they are doing everything they can and that’s really all we can ask of them. That’s kind of the approach I take. Injuries happen … All that we can ask is that they do everything they can to get back as quickly as they can. All the guys who are dealing with nicks and bruises are doing what they can to get back.”

However, there is a more telling story with Will Fuller. When DeAndre Hopkins was in Houston, Fuller had to share the glory. Hopkins always had the spotlight as a perennial All-Pro wide receiver. Once Hopkins left to Arizona, however, everything changed. Quarterback Deshaun Watson now relied on Fuller to be his top target, and he took advantage of that chance. 2020 was Fuller’s best statistical year yet, as he logged 53 catches for 879 yards and eight touchdowns. The craziest thing of all, is that Fuller only played in 11 games last season. Which means he put those numbers up while still missing five games.


If Fuller had played the whole season, who knows what he could have done? Now, it’s Tua Tagovailoa who will get the chance to benefit from Fuller’s presence, and he spoke about how happy he was to have the veteran back in practice at last on Wednesday.

“It’s good to have all of our guys back out here, to be able to work some timing and to be able to get some work in with them.” Tagovailoa said. “I think just them being able to get back into the huddle, hear calls, get out, know where they’re lining up at and then executing with them, I think that’s very important.”

The Miami Dolphins offense already looks vastly improved even without Will Fuller on the field. It’s hard to imagine how much better it can look with Fuller added to the equation. Perhaps, if he can stay healthy, Miami may feel compelled to offer him a big extension. Fuller signed a 1-year, almost fully guaranteed $10,625,011 contract with the Dolphins, both cashing in and betting on himself simultaneously.

Will Fuller is betting he can stay healthy. He’s betting that Tua Tagovailoa is ready to make a huge jump in his career and make him look good. If he wins those bets, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Fuller will be a very rich man in 2022 and beyond.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for seven years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung

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Tua Tagovailoa

Breaking down the Miami Dolphins first open 2021 practice

For the first time since last December, the Miami Dolphins held their first open practice for the media to watch. With that first practice comes the opportunity to see and hear from the players in a real football environment and get an idea of where they stand.

As OTAs are voluntary, it’s no surprise to see that some players opted not to attend. The most notable absences were Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, Jason McCourty, Emmanuel Ogbah, Justin Coleman, Jerome Baker, Benardrick McKinney, Will Fuller, and D.J. Fluker. Just looking at the list, it’s mostly veterans who didn’t show up. This is a regular pattern across the NFL and ultimately means nothing. It’s only when mandatory mini-camp arrives that attendance will matter.

“Like I’ve told them, you don’t just roll out of bed and jump back into it as if you’re in midseason form, so there’s a lot of working through some kinks, I would say, even just from a basic fundamentals, footwork, hand placement standpoint.” Head coach Brian Flores said before practice. “It’s good to get them out here and work through some of those things. We’ll see them these next few weeks to include minicamp.”


Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns attended practice, with video being taken of Wilson catching a pass from veteran QB Jacoby Brissett.

However, Wilson will need every opportunity he can get to prove he still deserves a roster spot with all the weapons that have been added. This Miami Dolphins regime has shown over and over that no player is safe, no matter how good or respected they are.

Speaking of Brissett, it was reported that he and rookie Jaylen Waddle were getting extra work in after practice was over. This is a good sign considering Waddle is projected to be a big contributor to the offense in 2021. Why wasn’t it Tua Tagovailoa instead? One possible reason is he was preparing for a media session.

The offense and defense never faced each other in Wednesday’s practice. Both sides kept to their own work during practice and the players’ only real opponent was the grass in front of them. Part of the agreement the players reached with Brian Flores stated that OTAs would be a much lighter workload. So the session focused mainly on teaching and fundamentals.

After practice was over, players spoke with the media and dropped some interesting tidbits regarding their mindset and the surrounding chatter. One of the most candid of them all was tight end Mike Gesicki.

This is likely in regards due to the recent chatter coming from the likes of Colin Cowherd and others. The criticisms regarding Tagovailoa’s health, arm strength, durability and comparison to fellow QB Justin Herbert has dominated national airwaves. Fortunately, it seems that Tua Tagovailoa isn’t fazed by this talk and appreciates his teammate’s defense of him.

Later, Tua offered some insight on his strength and conditioning.

Obviously, this is excellent news. After all, one of the main concerns of 2020 was Tagovailoa’s health. Now instead of focusing on healing, he can focus on raising his peak physical shape. Everyone has seen the images and videos of Tua Tagovailoa working out, and it’s obvious that he looks much stronger than he did last season.

However, the quote that will likely make the national news regarded Tua Tagovailoa’s level of comfort last season. It was speculated by many that Tagovailoa looked lost at times in the huddle and wasn’t sure where to go with the ball. Tagovailoa confirmed these suspicions in Wednesday’s virtual press conference.

To clarify, Tagovailoa is not suggesting he did not take the time to learn the playbook. He clarified his comments, saying that when he was in the game, the playcalls were simpler, there weren’t extra alerts or things to take into consideration. He didn’t have the playbook down to such a science that he felt comfortable changing things on the fly, pointing things out, speaking with authority and helping his teammates execute.

Considering he was a step behind all season due to his rehab, this should not be a surprise. He did not get to really focus on learning every detail of the playbook because he had to spend time healing and getting back to his baseline physical shape. Plus, the offense was not catered to his strengths, and neither was the offensive coordinator. Last year’s offense was best suited for Ryan Fitzpatrick, a gunslinger. Not a surgeon like Tua Tagovailoa.

Granted, Tagovailoa takes responsibility for not knowing the playbook as well as he should have. But now things are different, now the offense is being built around him. That has already done wonders for his level of comfort, and it’s showing in the huddle.

As time goes on, there will be more opportunities to see what Tagovailoa is truly capable of. His teammates have made it clear they believe in him and they’re excited to work with him. All the other discussions outside the organization are being scoffed at or ignored.

It will be interesting to see where things progress from here.

Quotes aggregated by Alfredo Arteaga (@Alf_Arteaga), who is one-third of the trio that does the Three Yards Per Carry (@3YardsPerCarry) podcast

Summary by Luis Sung (@LuisDSung), who has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for eight years.


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Dolphins Loss Chiefs

5 Takeaways from Dolphins Loss to Chiefs

The Miami Dolphins (8-5) took more than one tough loss on Sunday to the Kansas City Chiefs (12-1). Despite battling back from a 20-point second half deficit, the Dolphins dropped a meaningful game to the defending Super Bowl champs. Along the way, the team also lost several players to injury.

Although Miami maintained hold of the last playoff spot in the AFC by Week 14’s end, the path to the postseason has narrowed considerably. The Dolphins still control their playoff destiny, but there’s little margin for error. Miami may very well need to win-out to secure a Wild Card spot at this point.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Dolphins loss to the Chiefs.

Dolphins D Came to Play in Loss to Chiefs

The matchup between Miami and Kansas City highlighted a strength-on-strength tug-of-war. The Chiefs feature one of the most potent offenses in the league, while the Dolphins sport one of the NFL’s top defensive units.

Miami’s D held the upper hand early, picking off a pair of Patrick Mahomes passes. The Chiefs entered with only eight turnovers all season long, but by the time the game ended, the Dolphins added four to that tally.

Byron Jones nabbed his first interception as a Dolphin in the first quarter after Andrew Van Ginkel tipped a Mahomes offering. Safety Eric Rowe picked off his second pass of the year later in that quarter. Mahomes had thrown only two interceptions all season entering this one.

Later in the game, Jones added a forced fumble to the tally before Xavien Howard came away with an interception of his own.

All told, the Dolphins defense held the league’s highest scoring offense to just 24 points, six below their season average. (Special Teams surrendered a punt return TD and the offense gave up a safety.) Miami’s 25 takeaways this season now leads the league.

There’s no other offense in the league scarier than that in KC, so this performance should prove, when fully healthy, this defense can play with anyone.

Howard Makes His DPOY Case

Howard’s stellar play continued in this one. Some questioned if he would be up to the challenge, considering Mahomes and the offensive weapons at his disposal. But Howard showed not only that he’s at an All-Pro level but also that he should be the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Consider this: In 2019, Patriots’ CB Stephon Gilmore won the award on the back of six interceptions, 20 passes defensed and 53 total tackles. In 2020, with three games to play, Howard leads the league with nine interceptions and 17 passes defensed, and has 40 total tackles. When targeting Howard, opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of just 53.4, second-best among cornerbacks with at least 30 pass targets.

Howard’s nine interceptions puts him within striking distance of the single-season franchise record of 10, held by Dick Westmoreland who set the record in 1967. No NFL player has had at least nine interceptions in a season since Chicago’s Tim Jennings in 2012. No one’s had at least 10 since Antonio Cromartie picked off 10 passes in 2007.

Dolphins Exit Loss with Injury Issues

One of the big concerns for Miami in the wake of this loss remains the health of its frontline players. The Dolphins started the game without a pair of starting linebackers in Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts, but the injury list just got longer from there.

DeVante Parker exited in the second quarter of the game with a leg injury and did not return. He did not make a catch on his two targets. Jakeem Grant also went down with a leg injury as well. Parker and Grant, the team’s top wideouts, played just 27 and 31 snaps respectively.

Another huge loss came midway through the fourth quarter when Mike Gesicki sustained a shoulder injury after a short reception. Gesicki, who had five catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns, emerged as Tua Tagovailoa’s favorite target in this one.

There’s a good chance the Dolphins will be without both Gesicki and Grant come Sunday’s contest against the Patriots.

Safety Bobby McCain sustained an ankle injury during the game but was able to return. Unfortunately, his replacements Clayton Fejedelm and Kavon Frazier both gave up big plays in McCain’s absence, including a 44-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill.

Bowden Emerges as Slot Option

One of the positive takeaways from this spate of injuries might be the emergence of Lynn Bowden Jr as a slot receiver. Bowden has earned more playing time over the last several weeks and led Dolphins receivers in snaps in this one. He played 59 of 83 possible offensive snaps.

Bowden led the team with seven receptions for 82 yards, an 11.7 yards-per-reception average. Each of those set a new career-high for the rookie receiver. He was targeted nine times and six of his catches moved the chains. Bowden also carried the ball once for two yards and attempted one pass.

Bowden has emerged as a utility offensive weapon for the ‘Phins and has developed some positive chemistry with Tagovailoa. That chemistry will be necessary if the receiver corps continues to be thinned out.

One reinforcement this week could be the return of Isaiah Ford. Miami traded Ford to the Patriots for a conditional draft pick earlier this season, only to see New England cut the third-year wideout shortly thereafter. Ford has experience as a slot receiver and in Miami’s system.

Tagovailoa Nearly Pulls Off Epic Comeback

Tagovailoa completed 28-of-48 attempts for a career-high 316 yards in this one. He added two touchdown passes and his first career rushing touchdown. As the game unfolded, Tagovailoa lost most of his go-to offensive outlets, but the rookie quarterback still managed to make this interesting in the end.

Missing the top-8 skill position players (in terms of yards-from-scrimmage) by game’s end, Tagovailoa kept the Dolphins within striking distance. The team put up 17 points in the fourth and were an onside kick recovery away from making it even more compelling.

Perhaps the most impressive drive came after Gesicki was lost for the game. Tagovailoa navigated the offense 73 yards for a touchdown with Bowden and Mack Hollins as his most reliable receivers. The first touchdown drive of the fourth went 80 yards, capping with a 29-yard toss to Gesicki.

Dolphins fans can come away from this one that Tagovailoa has that “it” factor absent from Miami’s backfield since Dan Marino.

Dolphins win Bengals

5 Takeaways from Dolphins Win Over the Bengals

The Miami Dolphins improved to 8-4 with their win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. A lackluster first half gave way to a brawling second half. But after managing just six points, the offense came alive in the third quarter.

The win maintained Miami’s position in the AFC playoff race and gave Dolphins fans hope for what’s to come with rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. And while he’ll never admit it, head coach Brian Flores’s heated response to the hit that sparked the brawl also engendered hope and confidence, not only in the fans, but also the players.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Dolphins 19-7 win over the Bengals.

Dolphins-Bengals: Despite Ejection, Xavien Howard Remains Elite

In the first quarter, Xavien Howard intercepted a Brandon Allen pass, giving him a career-high eight interceptions this season. Howard became the first Dolphin since 1998 to intercept eight passes in a season. Both Terrell Buckley and Sam Madison had eight picks that year.

He’s now intercepted a pass in four consecutive games, tied for the second-longest streak in Dolphins history. It’s the second time this season he’s picked of a pass in four straight. The team record remains five consecutive games with an interception, and that’s held by cornerback Dick Westmoreland, who did it in 1967. Westmoreland also set the single-season team record of 10 INTs that year.

Howard’s play this season has propelled him into the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. He leads the league in INTs (8), is tied for the league lead in pass breakups (16) and QBs targeting Howard have a passer rating of just 48.9 this season. Great plays in the coming matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs could cement Howard’s DPOY claim.

Up-Tempo Offense Got Going

During Ryan Fitzpatrick’s time at QB this season, the Dolphins called the eighth-most No Huddle plays in the NFL. With Tagovailoa under center, Miami called the seventh-least No Huddle plays. In the second half, though, searching for a spark, the Dolphins offense incorporated the up-tempo style to much success.

According to Three Yards Per Carry podcast host Chris Kouffman, the Dolphins ran 15 No Huddle plays against the Bengals. That’s a major departure from previous games started by Tagovailoa. From Week 8 through the third quarter of Week 11, all with Tagovailoa at QB, the Dolphins ran five No Huddle plays total.

This move to the up tempo helped the Dolphins offense find a much-needed rhythm in the second half. Miami piled up 263 total yards in the second half, more than half of the 406 total yards on the day. Although they only scored 13 points in the second half, the movement and pace provided a tantalizing glimpse at the potential for this group.

Dolphins Defense Dominates (Again) in Win Over Bengals

The Dolphins limited the Bengals to just 196 yards of offense Sunday. It was the fewest yards allowed by a Dolphins defense since Oct. 8, 2017, when Tennessee gained just 188 yards.

Miami’s defense was even more stingy in the second half, surrendering just 25 total yards. It’s the fewest yards allowed in a second half by the Dolphins since at least 2000 and tied for the third-fewest allowed by an NFL team this season.

The Dolphins registered six sacks today, the team’s most in a game since Dec. 23, 2018 vs. Jacksonville. Miami’s 31 sacks this season are tied for 10th in the NFL. It’s the team’s most through its first 12 games of a season since 2014 (33.0).

Kyle Van Noy was particularly disruptive versus the Bengals. He recorded a career-high three sacks, as well as eight solo tackles and three additional QB hits. His tipped pass led to a Nik Needham interception in the fourth.

Interceptions by Howard and Needham pushed the team’s takeaway streak to 18 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL. Miami’s 21 takeaways are second-most this season.

Gesicki and Gaskin Came to Play

The Dolphins have struggled at times to find game-breaking skill position players. The lackluster offense bogs down without those difference makers, but on Sunday, a pair of young performers played a pivotal role in this win.

Mike Gesicki nabbed nine of the the 10 targets that came his way and gained 88 yards in the process. His nine catches tied Randy McMichael’s team record for most tight end receptions in a single game. His 537 receiving yards this season are fourth among tight ends and his 13.8 yards-per-catch rank third. Gesicki’s one-handed grab in the second half provided a highlight-reel moment and if he’s able to develop this positive chemistry with Tagovailoa, the Dolphins really have something.

Myles Gaskin returned to the field for the first time in four weeks during this win over the Bengals. He totaled 141 yards from scrimmage, a season-high for a Dolphins player and a new career-high for him. Gaskin gained 90 yards on 21 carries, good for a 4.3 yards-per-carry average. He also ripped off a 26-yard run, though he did fumble. Gaskin caught both his targets for 51 yards, gaining 39 of those after the catch. He’s clearly the best running back on the roster and it helped the offensive to have him back on the field. He played 71 percent of the offensive snaps in this one.

Tagovailoa Shines in Dolphins Win Over the Bengals

Although the first half left some cause for concern regarding Tua Tagovailoa’s performance, the rookie QB excelled in the second half, helping lead the Dolphins to the comeback win over the Bengals.

Tagovailoa had the most productive game of his career, notching career highs in completions (26) and passing yards (296). His 26 completions tied the Dolphins’ rookie record, which was set by Ryan Tannehill on Sept. 30, 2012 at Arizona.

Tagovailoa improved to 4-1 as a starter and has yet to throw an interception. (He had one called back thanks to a penalty.) He tied a team record for most consecutive starts without an interception, regardless of experience (Jay Fiedler, 2000) and he’s now the third QB in the Super Bowl era to not throw an INT in his first five starts (min. 100 attempts).

Tagovailoa was particularly good against the Bengals’ blitz. He completed 12-of-18 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown against the blitz. He sported pocket presence and maneuverability, particularly on one play where he evaded a free rusher and completed a pass to DeVante Parker in a tight window.

Tagovailoa’s ability to move the offense in the second half provided fans with a glimpse of this team’s potential moving forward. Although he made mistakes (questionable throws, misreads on RPOs), he was able to handle the up-tempo element and was largely on target. Had Jakeem Grant not dropped the perfectly placed bomb in the first half, the game might have unfolded very differently.

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Mike Gesicki’s positive momentum will be tested against Bills

Mike Gesicki will be in for a challenge on Sunday.

For what it’s worth, the Miami Dolphins have been playing better football. I know that’s probably not welcome news for  the folks hoping for a high draft pick, but it is what it is. One of the players who has stepped up their game over the past couple of weeks is tight end Mike Gesicki. After starting off slow in the first few games of the season, Mike Gesicki has begun to find a role in the Dolphins’ passing game.

The tight end caught three passes for 28 yards in Sunday’s game against Indianapolis. Those are not eye-popping numbers, but he did average 9.3 yards per catch. Sunday’s game was on the heels of a strong performance against the Jets the week before. In that game, he caught six passes for 95 yards, averaging 15.8 yards per catch.

He has received more targets in the past two weeks, getting six passes thrown to him each week. He is definitely trending in the upward direction, and that is good news for the Miami Dolphins, especially in the future. However, he will have his work cut out for him this week against the Buffalo Bills.

Buffalo allows only  188. 7 yards per game. That is third-best in the National Football League. In their last game against Cleveland, the  Buffalo defense showed some rare cracks. They allowed 221.7 yards on the afternoon in what was a wild game. However, I don’t expect Buffalo’s defense to show that same kind of vulnerability on Sunday against Miami.

Mike Gesicki will certainly have his work cut out for him. The entire passing game will have their work cut out for them. As A result, I could see his upward momentum coming to a halt on Sunday. This Buffalo defense is no joke, especially their pass rush. My guess is that he will receive a fair share of targets. Whether he will be able to gain separation and get yards after the catch is something that will remain to be seen.

It will certainly be an interesting thing to watch on Sunday. Gesicki has shown he can be a productive part of the offense. This is a nice test for the Dolphins offense in general. If he can put up decent numbers against this defense, that will undoubtedly give him confidence I am hoping he can, and in turn continue the upward momentum he’s been experiencing.

Mike Gesicki trending in right direction for the Dolphins

After being drafted in the second round out of Penn State, the Dolphins had high expectations for Mike Gesicki.

Every team is searching for the next Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce and the Dolphins thought Gesicki, the 23-year old from Lakewood New Jersey, could fit that mold.

Mike Gesicki had a subpar 2018 season with Adam Gase at the helm. He finished with just 22 receptions for 202 yards, but nobody was expecting him to come in and perform as a top-tier tight end as rookie.

Under a new staff lead by Brian Flores, the Dolphins are focused on developing young talent and tight ends coach George Godsey is liking what he sees from the second-year tight end.

Where has Gesicki made the most progress?

“He’s had a good preseason – both the run game and pass game,” Godsey said. “His conditioning is improving throughout the course of not only spring, but the fall. He’s got an upward trend right now. He’s caught some passes in the preseason, made some big plays. Of course, now is when it counts.”


How high is his ceiling?

“He’s a young player, so there’s a lot of room to improve,” Godsey said. “Obviously, there are some things we’re doing with him now that he’s unfamiliar with from college. For everybody, there’s a certain growth period, especially as you get into the league, not only learning your role, but the personnel and how to study the opponent and how you fit into the game plan and then performing when your number is called.”

How does added weight help Gesicki with technique?

“All that goes together – technique, physical stature and then getting open at the top of the route. All of that stuff really is important when you’re running routes,” Godsey said. “At this level, one of them can’t just be your strength. You have to excel in all those different phases of running routes. Mike is learning that. And then you have to catch the ball. All of that stuff really factors into it. You can run a great route, you can get open, and then if you don’t finish the play, then it’s all for naught. It’s the same thing – if you can’t get open, then you’re not even an option. He understands that and I think all of those things are going to help him become a better player.”

Mike Gesicki is listed as Miami’s starting tight end as the Dolphins welcome the Baltimore Ravens to Hard Rock Stadium for week one of the NFL season on Sunday.


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