Gesicki Wraps Up Solid Rookie Season With Miami Dolphins

By DAVID BIGGY | Jan 09, 2019
Courtesy of: Peter McMahon/Miami Dolphins Manahawkin resident and former Southern star Mike Gesicki caught 22 passes for 202 yards this season – his rookie campaign with the Miami Dolphins.

Prior to the NFL season, Mike Gesicki’s goals were simple. The first was to earn a spot on the Miami Dolphins’ 53-man roster. The second was to start the process of becoming an effective tight end while helping the Dolphins win football games.

It’s safe to say the Manahawkin resident and Southern Regional graduate had a solid rookie season, which culminated with Buffalo’s 42-17 bruising of Miami on Dec. 30. The Dolphins finished 7-9, but Gesicki is well on his way toward becoming that effective NFL tight end.

During the Dolphins’ three-game losing skid to end the season, Gesicki managed just four receptions for 46 yards. In Miami’s 41-17 loss to Minnesota on Dec. 16, quarterback Ryan Tannehill fired to Gesicki on the team’s first play from scrimmage, resulting in a 14-yard reception and a first down. Tannehill also passed to Gesicki on Miami’s first play of the second half, a reception good for 9 yards.

Four days later, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said he hoped to get Gesicki more passes, particularly when the matchup favored throwing the ball to No. 86. “Each week it always starts with the matchup. Always,” he said. “They played a coverage that we felt like Mike might be able to get some more targets this week and if we can get them in their quarters coverage or zone, there’s a little more access into the defense. Some of these teams just play straight up man. That was the thought process in it. Obviously, we’d like to get Mike more involved weekly. We need to continue to increase his numbers and he needs to produce.”

The next day, head coach Adam Gase was asked, specifically, to size up Gesicki’s progress to that point.

“I think, really, the thing is for him, when he gets his one-on-one matchups, we just need him to win,” Gase said. “Unfortunately, a lot of the times when he’s won, we just haven’t been able to get him the ball. We’ve either got pressured to where Ryan (Tannehill) has had to really get his eyes off him and go somewhere else, or we’ve gotten sacked. In the times that we do have everything going right up front, then those are the times that we’re not winning (on the pass route).

“I do think his routes are improving. What I see in practice, it’s going to translate to games eventually. It’s a young player. The tight end position is not easy. You look at all these guys across the league, all these young guys and their numbers are all about the same.”

Days later, during a 17-7 loss to Jacksonville, Tannehill tossed only one pass Gesicki’s way – a 5-yard play on first-and-10 from the Dolphins’ 34-yard line in the first quarter. In the season finale, Tannehill attempted to get Gesicki the ball for his first touchdown of the season late in the first half, but overthrew Gesicki in the end zone on second-and-2 from the Buffalo 17. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Tannehill hit Gesicki on a crossing pattern across the middle, resulting in an 18-yard gain and a first down to Miami’s 44.

A few days before the final game, Gase was asked to assess all the tight ends for the season, and he had a lot to say about Gesicki.

“We started off thinking one thing, as far as we’re going to get single coverage early and we’re going to have some chances in the red area to get him one-on-one, and that didn’t happen,” Gase said. “The first time we came out and tried to get him in a one-on-one matchup, two guys walked out with him. For whatever reason, it’s probably one of the first times I’ve ever seen a rookie get respected like that from defenses when we started out. And that kind of got us away from some of the things that we like doing with him.

“Then we started running the ball more in the red area. That was probably one of the main reasons. I do think there’s been some big-time growth, especially in pass protection and his run blocking. It’s nowhere near where we want it to be. He knows that. I love the fact that he works at it and that he tries to make sure that he’s one of those guys that’s accountable to the rest of those guys. He’s done a good job of improving.”

For the season, Gesicki played in all 16 games with seven starts. He finished with 22 receptions for 202 yards, an average of 9.2 per reception, with his longest reception going for 27 yards. Gesicki finished sixth on the team in receptions and seventh in reception yardage.

Gesicki ended up with four games in which he caught three or more passes, all from Tannehill. He snagged four catches for 14 yards against Houston on Oct. 25. During three of the previous four games, Gesicki caught three passes in each contest – for 44 yards against Detroit on Oct. 21; for 26 yards against Cincinnati on Oct. 7; and for 31 yards against Oakland on Sept. 23.

Next season, Gesicki is slated to play under a new head coach. The Dolphins fired Gase on Dec. 31.

biggy@thesandpaper.net

 

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