Stafford Leader

Manahawkin’s Gesicki Playing Well With Miami Dolphins

Head Coach Shares Praise
By DAVID BIGGY | Oct 12, 2018
Courtesy of: Peter McMahon/Miami Dolphins THAT’S NO. 1: Miami Dolphins rookie tight end Mike Gesicki (86) hauls in his first NFL reception during the season opener against Tennessee.

No doubt, Mike Gesicki is living a dream. Now, with the dream five games old, it seems Gesicki is on his way toward a solid rookie season in the NFL.

While the former Southern Regional star athlete hasn’t been the primary target of Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the 23-year-old from Manahawkin earned a place within head coach Adam Gase’s system during the preseason and has been one of the Dolphins’ top options at tight end. Through five games, Gesicki has hauled in 8 receptions for 77 yards, an average of 9.6 per catch, with a long of 19 yards.

Most recently, Gesicki snagged a trio of Tannehill passes for 26 yards during the Dolphins’ 27-17 loss to Cincinnati on Oct. 7, four days after his birthday. After a 4-yard reception in the first quarter that went for a first down, Gesicki didn’t catch another pass until the fourth quarter, as Miami desperately attempted a comeback on its second-to-last possession. To start the drive, Tannehill fired back-to-back passes to Gesicki – one for 6 yards and the next for 16 yards and a first down.

A week earlier, Gesicki saw only two passes thrown in his direction during a 38-7 drubbing by the New England Patriots. During the Dolphins’ last possession of the first half, Tannehill tossed a 9-yard pass to Gesicki on second-and-10.

During Week 3 of the season, Miami won its third straight game, 28-20, over the Oakland Raiders, as Gesicki had the first multiple-reception game of his brief career – hauling in three passes for 31 yards, including one for 19 yards which gave Miami a first down on second-and-10 from its own 15-yard line during the fourth quarter. Earlier in the game, Gesicki caught passes of 1 yard and 11 yards.

The second game of the season was a treat for Gesicki, despite not seeing a pass. With dozens of relatives and friends in the crowd of 77,982, Gesicki stepped onto the turf at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford for the first time, as the Dolphins ousted the New York Jets, 20-12.

During the next day’s press conference with head coach Adam Gase, it was revealed that it wasn’t part of the plan to not throw to Gesicki.

“We had a couple opportunities in the passing game to get him the ball, but it didn’t work out,” Gase said after being asked about Gesicki’s blocking and whether he was an intended target at any point in the game. “They did a good job. They cheated to him a little bit. We weren’t the only ones who watched him in college. Defensive coordinators are aware of what he can do, so they’re taking him away, and the ball has to go somewhere else. And that’s good. I’m glad Ryan’s doing the right thing and not trying to force it to him.”

With Miami bringing a slightly different look to its offensive game compared to the team’s Week 1 victory over the Tennessee Titans – mainly in the form of Tannehill running the ball more, as he alone had more rushing yards than the entire Jets offense; and utilizing running back Kenyan Drake in a more diverse role – Gesicki mostly was relegated to blocking. And Gase seemed pleased with his play in Sunday’s contest.

On one particular play, a 6-yard touchdown run by Drake late in the first quarter of a scoreless contest, Gase credited Gesicki with a key block that helped Drake gain the end zone for the Dolphins’ first score.

“He had a really good block on Drake’s touchdown,” Gase said. “Drake made a great cut, and Mike did a great job of walling off the defensive end, and there was a nice little lane there and Kenyan hit it, and we got into the end zone. That was a big play for us because it got us a touchdown after a turnover.”

By the end of the game, Tannehill had thrown the ball to a tight end just twice – both times to A.J. Derby, which included a 19-yard TD strike to make it a 13-0 game with 42 seconds left in the first half. Derby ended up completing 34 of Miami’s 60 plays on offense, while Gesicki completed 33 plays, 55 percent of the total offensive plays. The Dolphins’ other tight end to see time, Durham Smythe, completed nine plays.

“I like the fact that he’s not concerned about how many targets he’s getting,” Gase said of Gesicki. “He’s playing. And I know this: he’s taking a lot of pride in trying to become a better blocker. Mike’s improving. He’s going to keep improving because the guy is very prideful. He loves doing this. He studies. He works hard. Good things will happen for him.”

In his debut, Gesicki had to endure several lightning delays and more than seven hours inside Hard Rock Stadium, and ultimately finished with one reception for 11 yards during a 27-20 victory over the Titans. After a quiet first half, which included the first of two weather delays toward the end of the second quarter, Gesicki’s number finally was called during the Dolphins’ third possession of the third.

Set up by Tajae Sharpe’s interception of a Marcus Mariota pass with 9:04 left in the third, Tannehill completed two consecutive passes to Jakeem Grant and Danny Amendola, sandwiched around a Tennessee holding penalty, to give the Dolphins a second-and-2 at the Titans’ 18-yard line.

The next pass was delivered to the left side of the field, where Gesicki made the grab on a crossing pattern for an 11-yard gain to give Miami first-and-goal at the 7. Two plays later, after Kenyan Drake ran the ball to the 4-yard line, Tannehill fired a pass into the end zone, intended for Gesicki, but Tennessee’s Malcolm Butler picked it off and returned the ball 33 yards with 6:57 to go in the third quarter.

“It was on me – completely on me,” Tannehill said during his post-game press conference. “We had a one-on-one matchup there, and I have to find a way to get him a better football.”

Gesicki and the Dolphins will be at home to face the Chicago Bears on Sunday, Oct. 14, followed by another home contest against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Oct. 21, before they finish off the month in Houston on Thursday, Oct. 25.

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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