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Jaylen Waddle

Miami: short-range passing

Mike McDaniel was talking up Jaylen Waddle last week, and that makes sense, with Waddle coming off a rookie season that included 104 catches. But McDaniel will need to figure out some ways to better get Waddle downfield for some more impactful plays.

Waddle was busy in a lot of games last year, but most of his receptions were around the line of scrimmage and didn’t do much damage. He averaged only 9.8 yards per catch. With his speed and elusiveness, he’s capable of a lot more.

Quarterback is a question mark. (That’s the nice way of putting it.) Tua Tagovailoa has a popgun arm and is most comfortable getting rid of the ball on short, safe passes. He’ll probably always be below-average in terms of driving the ball downfield. The Dolphins are also working against the reality that Waddle is a smaller receiver; the taller receivers, with larger catch radiuses, sometimes are friendly targets on long balls.

McDaniel comes from the 49ers, and they were able to connect on a healthy share of deeper passes last year, and that was despite having a quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo) who hasn’t been an accurate or decisive downfield passer. Like Tagovailoa, Garoppolo’s preference is to settle for the short, safe passes underneath.

I’m not sure how much of the San Francisco’s DNA McDaniel will be able to work in Miami’s offense, but the numbers from last year are below. The stats are for wide receivers only (that is, I’ve set aside tight ends and running backs). The 49ers wide receivers last year averaged 15.3 yards per catch, the most in the league. Miami’s wide receivers averaged only 10.8 yards per catch, the lowest.

YARDS PER CATCH FOR WIDE RECEIVERS
TeamNoYardsAvgTD
San Francisco1812,77715.3417
Cincinnati2363,55115.0525
Seattle1812,54714.0724
LA Rams2863,96413.8632
New Orleans1552,14113.8116
Philadelphia1491,99313.3811
Cleveland1411,87313.287
Minnesota2403,18113.2529
Denver1712,25713.208
Dallas2553,34713.1325
Las Vegas2232,88912.9616
Chicago1762,26912.899
Green Bay2403,08612.8627
LA Chargers2523,17112.5822
Tennessee1942,43512.5513
Tampa Bay2823,50312.4226
New England1932,39612.4112
Indianapolis1772,18412.3416
Arizona2503,07312.2920
Houston2032,46312.1315
Washington1842,21812.0510
NY Giants1802,16312.025
NY Jets2222,64911.9314
Buffalo2843,29911.6222
Kansas City2442,82011.5620
Carolina1962,25711.5210
Detroit2032,32611.4613
Baltimore2162,42011.2010
Jacksonville2282,50711.009
Pittsburgh2502,74710.9912
Atlanta1591,73610.929
Miami2072,24410.8414

—Ian Allan

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