This coming Sunday, the city of Miami will play host to the 54th Super Bowl as it welcomes the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. This is also the 11th time that the city has hosted football’s biggest game, breaking a tie with New Orleans for the most all-time. However, the Dolphins haven’t played in a Super Bowl of their own since the 1984 season, and they haven’t won one since 1973.
While watching the Super Bowl this weekend, though, Dolphins fans should take comfort in knowing their team has something that both of the teams on the big stage also possess: a lethal weapon at the tight end position.
George Kittle and Travis Kelce are the top 2 tight ends in the league today. They are both athletic freaks who create almost insurmountable mismatches for opposing defenses. They are perfect examples of what the modern tight end looks like. The rare combination of size, speed, catching ability, strength and flare; that’s what these players embody.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) January 29, 2020
So does someone else.
Mike Gesicki is not just a mismatch, but he is The Mismatch. That was actually Gesicki’s nickname while he was dominating at Penn State. Miami took him in the second round in 2018, in front of Philadelphia tight end Dallas Goedert. Some fans claim that Goedert should have been the pick in favor of Gesicki, but I don’t think so. Gesicki’s arrival as an elite tight end in this league is just now underway.
Under Adam Gase, the Dolphins were seemingly unaware of the tight end position – both on offense and defense. Opposing TEs would regularly tear apart the Dolphins’ secondary, and on offense Gase refused to acknowledge the position even after investing early in Gesicki. Like everything else about the Dolphins though, that changed when Brian Flores came to town.
Gesicki was utilized much more efficiently and effectively during the 2019 season. Gase had him in far too many blocking packages in 2018, but Flores reduced that dramatically, and focused on his ability as a vertical threat. As a rather unsurprising result for those who understand how talented Gesicki is, he put up a very productive season this past year and established a great foundation on which to build from.
The Mismatch scored 5 touchdowns in 2019, all of which came during the final 6 weeks of the season. Only the Saints’ Jared Cook had more during that same time (6). Gesicki was also 8th or better at his position in receptions with 36, and receiving yards with 417, over the last 9 weeks of the 2019 season. He hauled in just 22 catches for 202 yards in his rookie season under Gase, but that line increased to 51 catches for 570 yards with Flores at the helm.
Perhaps the most exciting stat for an explosive tight end may be YAC, or yards after the catch, since it indicates a player’s playmaking ability. Gesicki’s YAC increased from 96 in ‘18 to 162 in ‘19, and I expect this trend to continue at a high clip as he aims for numbers similar to Kittle and Kelce who recorded 602 and 410 YAC respectively during the regular season.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was beneficial to Gesicki’s playing style, but I believe his true breakout will come with a different quarterback running the show. Who loves their tight end more than an inexperienced QB? That’s precisely what Miami will have come April. Who that QB is, is a discussion for another time, but I’m comfortable in saying that Gesicki will be the favorite target of the rookie once it is his time.
With DeVante Parker and Preston Williams handling the outsides of the field, Gesicki will be free to run amuck on defenses. Though, Miami could use an in-line tight end to handle some of the blocking duties behind Mike.
San Fran has a Kittle. KC has a Kelce. But Miami has The Mismatch, and the show is just getting started.