It is truly amazing how a new system can help to develop players who have previously struggled on an NFL roster. For the Miami Dolphins, new offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea has second-year tight end Mike Gesicki emerging from a down year with quite the turn around as far as the progress of his development. The routes his two head coaches have taken regarding his use have been polar opposites.
After being drafted in the 2018 NFL draft, his rookie season was one to forget. Gesicki was targeted just 32 times through 16 games on a Dolphins team that did not possess a real number one offensive threat from the tight end position. Of those 32 targets, he caught 22 passes for 202 yards. It was widely known that, while at Penn State, Gesicki was an offensive weapon. However, former Miami head coach and offensive play-caller, Adam Gase, called for Gesicki to block on 19.5% of his 399 snaps, the most among TE’s last season.
However, this season, HC Brian Flores and O’Shea have highlighted the 2018 second-round draft pick’s strengths to utilize him in the offense better, and there is already a stark improvement. Scouts noted Gesicki’s impressive ball skills, a noteworthy catch radius, and an ability to spread the field vertically while outmanning defensive backs and linebackers. The coaching staff used these strengths to create mismatches for opposing defenses, and while he hasn’t found the endzone yet, I’m sure the team will take moving the chains for now.
— NFL (@NFL) November 3, 2019
Through nine games, Gesicki has one less target and reception but has totaled 248 yards. He has also reached career highs in targets, receptions, and yards. While the box score stats look good, why don’t we take it a step further?
Gesicki is emerging in OSM too
Even more promising for Gesicki, his Offensive Share Metric during the 2019 season, in games he’s qualified, has been great. Gesicki has only qualified in Weeks 1, 6, and 9, but in an offense that has been in a state of constant flux for the early part of the season, seeing some consistency over the past few weeks is promising.
Since Week 5, Gesicki has seen at least three targets with his highest coming in Week 5 at seven against the Washington Redskins. More opportunities lead to more production, and Gesicki has impressed so far with his breakout game coming in the Dolphins first win of the season. Facing the New York Jets, Gesicki had a 100% catch rate securing all six of his targets and earning a career-high in receiving yards with 95 in Week 9. This helped Gesicki build-up to his first elite performance in a game, according to PFN’s OSM.
Gesicki earned a 45.46 OSM grade in Week 9, ranking him fourth among tight ends. His 100% catch rate was tremendous, but Gesicki was also finding some separation, averaging 2.7 yards of distance between himself and the nearest defender at the point of completion or incompletion. Gesicki was even stretching the field for Miami, as well. He would rank first among tight ends for average targeted air yards, being on average 12.3 yards downfield per target. Gesicki ended the day with just one completion for less than 10 yards.
This breakout could be crucial for the Miami offense down the stretch. Only a second-year player, with the improvement shown so far it would be fair to say Gesicki is part of the Dolphins’ long-term plans during this rebuild. Additionally, with the knee injury to Preston Williams sending him to IR, Miami will need not just Gesicki but also five-year wide receiver Devante Parker to carry more weight in the passing game for Ryan Fitzpatrick.
While the Dolphins will be looking for contributions, Gesicki’s emergence could also have some implications on fantasy football. The tight end position has some of the slimmest pickings for consistent contributors week in and week out. With Gesicki building more chemistry and finding a place in the Dolphins offense, could we see Gesicki become a dependable fantasy option in the future?
With the current level of talent on the Dolphins offense, it would seem Gesicki would be no more than a streaming option at this point in the season. Owned in just 4.9% (up 2.2% since Sunday) of rosters according to ESPN Fantasy Football, check the waiver wire for Gesicki, who has a favorable matchup against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 10. The Colts have given up the 7th most points per game to opposing TEs.
However, if the Dolphins were to draft Alabama’s QB Tua Tagovailoa, LSU’s QB Joe Burrow, or one of the many promising QBs in the 2020 draft along with rebuilding the offensive line, Gesicki could become a dangerous offensive weapon in South Florida for years to come.