Mike Gesicki had something of a breakout year for the Miami Dolphins in 2019. After barely contributing during his rookie season, to the point of being labeled a bust by certain fans and members of the media, he improved dramatically during his sophomore campaign. He caught 51 passes for 570 yards and five touchdowns, with most of that production coming later in the season. Gesicki’s newfound successes forced his detractors to revise their opinions of him, with many now viewing him in a far more optimistic light.
However, PFN’s Offensive Share Metric (OSM), which measures how responsible a player was for the statistics they produced, doesn’t cast Gesicki in such a favorable light. His OSM grade of 30.31 ranked as the second-worst among qualifying tight ends, indicating that his impact on his own statistics was relatively minor and that he provided relatively limited value to the team overall.
A player’s OSM grade is calculated by taking into account many different advanced metrics. In Gesicki’s case, though, his low grade was primarily the result of failures on one factor in particular: his catch percentage. In 2019, Gesicki caught just 57.3% of his targets, the third-lowest percentage among qualifying tight ends.
Obviously, catching the ball when it is thrown to them is one of the easiest ways for a player to exert their influence over a game, and is, therefore, one of the strongest indicators of a player’s value to their team. This fact is particularly true at the tight end position, which is often supposed to function as a safety blanket for the quarterback.
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As successful as Gesicki was on certain occasions, he was relatively unreliable overall. That type of player doesn’t earn confidence from their coaches or their quarterback, something that is even more important for Miami than most other teams, given that they will likely be handing the reigns of their offense over to rookie Tua Tagovailoa at some point in the near future.
Looking at how Gesicki’s OSM grade changed weekly
Gesicki’s week-to-week OSM grades tell a similar story to the one he achieved overall. However, there are some reasons for optimism. The chart below shows his weekly grades, marked as black dots, compared to the season-long average OSM grade at tight end, marked by the yellow line.
Looking at these grades, it’s easy to see why Gesicki’s overall grade wasn’t particularly impressive. The weeks in which he performed at an above-average level were few and far between. However, it is worth noting that Gesicki only began to see significant targets during the second half of 2019. And it was during that period that he had his best performances.
In Week 9 and Week 13, Gesicki’s grades ranked inside the top ten at the tight end position. Those grades show that he is capable of playing at an elite, highly efficient level. Of course, those performances weren’t particularly common, but if Gesicki continues to be a feature part of the offense, we might see them more often.
Gesicki still has the capacity for improvement
Gesicki’s traditional statistics clearly saw a dramatic increase in 2019. And I’m not going to sit here and tell you that those improvements aren’t a positive sign. However, with a few exceptions, most of his performances didn’t provide much value to the team. That said, he hasn’t had many chances to prove himself. Despite the fact that he will be going into his third NFL season in 2020, Gesicki has only seen consistent targets for about half a season. It is very possible that we haven’t seen the best out of him yet.
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Fortunately for Gesicki, 2020 should give him every opportunity to show that his few excellent performances from last season weren’t flukes. He already saw an increase in targets late in 2019, and, going into 2020, two of the Dolphins top five players in terms of receiving yards from last season, Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson, have opted out. While that isn’t great news for the team overall, it might lead to Gesicki getting an even larger target share. We’ll see if he can make the most of that increased role.
Lucas Ellinas is a writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter @Lucas_Ellinas.