If there is anything the Miami Dolphins can take away from Superbowl Sunday, it’s to give your quarterback the weapons around him to succeed.
From the moment Patrick Mahomes was set to be a starter for the Kansas City Chiefs, he was already set up with a Hall of Fame-caliber tight end in Travis Kelce and the fastest receiving threat the league in Tyreek Hill.
Both of those two talents are virtually non-coverable. They have been responsible for a huge part of Mahomes’ success as a quarterback— helping KC get to an AFC Championship in 2018, a Superbowl win in 2019, and another appearance in 2020.
That’s not to take anything away from Patrick Mahomes as a quarterback, but it definitely helps to be throwing to two players who are Top-5 at their respective positions in the NFL.
Would Mahomes be putting up the same impressive numbers over the past 3 seasons if those two weren’t there getting consistently open week after week? I doubt that.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) February 14, 2021
And when we think about the Chiefs, it’s about offense offense offense.
—They have Andy Reid, a HOF offensive mind.
—They have Mahomes, probably the most athletically-gifted quarterback, who can execute from all throwing angles that this league has ever seen.
—They have tons of weaponry — Hill, Kelce, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson…
—They have an extremely-talented pass-catching running back in Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who they hardly use because they like to pass most of the time.
All of this has given them their identity as a team. And all of this has led to their quarterback having success through the air the moment he stepped on the field for them as a starter. Mahomes hasn’t had to live with the frustrations of playing with an under-talented receiving unit that can’t get open. The weaponry around him has made life easy for him.
However, the other quarterback who was playing on Sunday and just received his 7th ring — Tom Brady— had experienced playing with a lack of weapons before coming to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Yes, he’s had Gronkowski in the past.
Yes, he’s had, Julian Edelman.
Yes, he’s had, Wes Welker.
But Welker and Edelman started as undrafted players and essentially slot-receivers who can find a way to get open laterally and move the chains. The discovery of Welker and Edelman is more of a good find by the Patriots scouting department than the Patriots actually prioritizing the WR position for Brady.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) February 13, 2021
And Brady hasn’t had a receiver to take the top off of defenses at an elite level like Tyreek Hill since Randy Moss.
Brady came to the Buccaneers because he was sick and tired of playing with the poor supporting cast that Bill Belichick surrounded him in 2019. And Brady knew it wasn’t going to be much different in 2020.
So Brady went to a Buccaneers team that had 2 major weapons at receiver in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Also, a respectable tight end core with Cameron Brate and OJ Howard.
Once Brady was on the team, the Buccaneers were even able to acquire a formerly retired Rob Gronkowski via trade with the Patriots, running backs Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy current starter Ronald Jones, and eventually signed a still-talented, but personally-disturbed Antonio Brown.
With a strong defense on the other side of the ball, Tom Brady had all the tools he needed to succeed in his first year as a Buccaneer.
But it took time to get there. The start wasn’t pretty, and the offensive performance was inconsistent throughout the regular season until the final few games before the playoffs.
Brady was playing on a new team, with a new coach and a new cast of characters in which he needed to gain chemistry. Not to mention playing in the NFL’s first Covid-19 season in which teams had very few practices.
But in the end, with patience, hard work, trial and error, head coach Bruce Arians and Tom Brady found a way to get on the same page and get the job done. Brady won his 7th Superbowl title. Arians, his first.
So how does this all relate to the Miami Dolphins?
Their starting quarterback— Tua Tagovailoa— is primarily a pocket passer just like Brady. And he played with one of the NFL’s worst wide-receiving corps in 2020 throughout his nine games.
The Dolphins as a receiving unit, according to hosted.stats.com, ranked 23rd in the NFL in Yards After Catch. They ranked 10th in the AFC in that area, just 1 spot above the New England Patriots. And we all know how inferior their offensive weaponry was this past season for Cam Newton.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) February 11, 2021
To get an idea, TeamRankings.com ranked 100 players in catch-rate. Out of that list, the only Miami Dolphins player ranked in the Top 5 was running back Myles Gaskin, who isn’t even a receiver. The only Dolphins receiver on that list was Jakeem Grant, and he was ranked 88th.
Drops also plagued Miami. They had the 6th-most drops in the league.
Tua has demonstrated to be an accurate passer. His decision-making is sufficient. And he was getting quicker with his progressions as the season went on.
But he needs help to be successful, as all young quarterbacks do.
He needs his targets to find a way to get separation. To get open.
And that’s why the Dolphins need to target offensive playmakers in the 2021 free agency and draft.
General Manager Chris Grier knows this. After the Dolphins season concluded, Grier spoke of how the better teams in the NFL have playmakers around their quarterback. And if the Dolphins want to be up there, in the playoffs, with the best teams, they need to assemble an arsenal for Tua to utilize.
3 of the most notable names available for the Dolphins include LSU’s WR Ja’Marr Chase, Alabama’s speedy WR Devonta Smith, and running back Najee Harris. It wouldn’t shock me if Dolphins chose 1 or even 2 of those names.
The 2019 season was about tanking for Tua.
The 2020 free agency and draft was about building the trenches and assembling a defense.
2021 will be about adding weapons.
And I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those weapons were defensive as well. Meaning: pass-rushers.