Expect more monster games from Miami’s Hartline

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline has come along way since his days at Ohio State. Photo by: Gabe Taviano / Flickr

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline may just be a poor man’s Wes Welker.

In four straight games, the three-year pro is already inching toward a personal best for his most receiving yards in single season. And Hartline has not only looked good doing it, but he is starting to emerge as one of the most dominant receivers in this young season. He’s not the only budding star at the wide out, either.

Players like Danny Amendola of the St. Louis Rams, Ramses Barden of the New York Giants and even perhaps Andre Roberts of the Arizona Cardinals have also turned some heads that otherwise wouldn’t have been turned on their names alone. And although those three young wideouts are making their way up the NFL totem poll, they’re not doing it quite at the pace as Hartline.

The Ohio State product is clearly emerging as Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill‘s favorite target and making the first-rounder look good in his rookie season under center. I really didn’t buy into Tannehill making it in this league whatsoever.

However, if he can keep his report with Hartline like it is now, we could have ourselves another Dan Marino-O.J. McDuffie or John Elway-Ed McCaffrey relationship starting to bloom in Miami. 

A solid quarterback, wide receiver punch has avoided the Dolphins for quite some time. For years, fans were left with dismal hopes like Jay Fiedler working well with Chris Chambers or that Brandon Marshall could make any of their subpar QBs look like Jay Cutler when both players were with the Denver Broncos. Despite Miami’s efforts to land above average receiving talent, it just never panned out. So coming into training camp this season, new head coach Joe Philbin elected to roll the dice on what was already on the roster. Philbin didn’t have much to work with as Miami even took a short-lived gamble on Chad Johnson during training camp. When the Dolphins’ depth chart was released it looked as if nothing has really changed — besides a new quarterback and the loss of Marshall — from last year’s team that suffered through a dismal 6-10 season.

Tannehill created some excitement going into this year’s regular season because of his high draft pick, but other than that, fans couldn’t exactly get excited about who he was throwing the ball to. Davone Bess was slated as their No. 1 receiver (put me to sleep) and the newly acquired Legedu Naanee would hold down the No. 2 spot with Hartline mainly playing the slot — like Welker used to do for this team. So out of the gate, Miami’s offense looked pretty bad, but then Bush blew up in week three and Hartline exploded in week four, catching 12 balls for 253 yards. He also had a decent week two where he caught nine passes for 111 yards. Through this early success, there’s no question that Hartline could be a stud in this league.

He’s a huge threat in the deep passing game. Although he has only caught one touchdown, his name should be called out even more in redzone-type passing situations, considering Miami’s other options. If this team is to have success this year, the Dolphins will have to heavily rely on the talents of Tannehill, Hartline and Reggie Bush. Because other than that trio, Miami literally has no other offensive weapons. It could be a long season for the Dolphins, but if Tannehill can keep finding Hartline on some crafty routes and Bush can return to his form during the second half of last season, this team could quietly make some noise. I’m not saying they’re playoff bound just yet. This is a team on the rise and one that shouldn’t be considered an “easy win” anymore.

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