Free agency has helped give the Miami Dolphins the AFC East’s best receiving unit. So says Brian Hartline.
“Absolutely, I think we are," the Dolphins receiver said on “NFL AM” on Monday morning. “The whole passing game is an advantage of ours."
That might sound a bit strange for a team that ranked 26th in the league in passing last season. But consider the Dolphins re-signed Hartline and added talented receiver Mike Wallace and tight end Dustin Keller via free agency. Also, second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill will enter 2013 battle-tested.
"A lot of (Tannehill's maturation) has been the communication and the development between player and coach," Hartline told “NFL AM.” "You can see coach (Joe) Philbin coming into his own, as well, (offensive coordinator) Mike Sherman feeling just more comfortable as a coaching staff. Being able to use all different parts . . . we have a lot of new parts. Although very important that we got them, it's also very important that we mesh and work together. . . . And that is something that we are working on now."
Claiming you’re the best in the AFC East in anything when you’re not the New England Patriots usually raises eyebrows, but Bill Belichick’s team has lost free-agent receiver Wes Welker to Denver (replacing him with former St. Louis Rams receiver Danny Amendola ) and tight end Rob Gronkowski reportedly faces a fourth operation on his elbow.
The Buffalo Bills (25th in passing) and the New York Jets (30th) seemingly did little to improve this offseason. Each has a veteran receiver — Buffalo’s Stevie Johnson and New York’s Santonio Holmes, returning from foot injury — but also major quarterback issues that would affect any group of receivers.
Tannehill, meanwhile, also has been impressed with his receivers, especially Wallace.
“Everything I heard about him coming in has proved to be true — he’s as advertised,” Tannehill told the Miami Herald. “He’s the fastest guy I’ve ever thrown to. It’s exciting.”