NFL coaches discuss how to defend Dolphins’ Hill/Waddle side by side

For opponents this season, defending Miami Dolphins Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle will be the best. Choose a thickness.

On paper, it looks really cool,” new receivers trainer Wes Welker said of Dolphins pairing these two weapons together. “These guys are at full speed all the time. Often you get guys 4.2 [seconds in the 40-yard dash] Who know they are 4.2 and don’t necessarily play 4.2.

[Hilll and Waddle] They play 4.2, and they do it often. Every time they are on the field, they do their best.”

Based on the fear Hale instills in opposing defenses and the respect he commands, Wadell is the beneficiary.

Hill last season was third in the league in receptions with 111, seventh in yards with 1,239 and ninth in touchdown receptions with nine.

Waddle finished eighth in the league in receptions with 104, 25 in yards with 1015 and 25 in receptions with six.

The NFL teams are already thinking about how to defend their exciting new Miami tandem.

“That’s exactly what I was thinking,” Arizona coach Cliff Kingsbury told me when Miami acquired Hill. “They have two guys like that who can take off the top. That’s what I thought. It would be hard to deal with. It was massive when they landed on Hill.”

It’s pretty obvious, Hill said: “You can never double up on a two-man team. Waddle is definitely a threat. I’m excited to see it all, another fast guy who can run the roads, doing basically the same thing you can do.”

So what is the best way for opposing teams to defend this dynamic duo? I posed the question to two NFL coaches.

“Extremely cautious,” said Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh. “You have to. These are two great players and you have to really think about them.”

With Miami on the Ravens’ schedule in week two, Harbaugh was hesitant to delve any further.

Washington coach Ron Rivera said the team that plays the Dolphins each week will first try to determine what they will try to exclude from each of the players’ matches.

“The biggest thing is to rely on what [a defenses does]Rivera said. “If someone is a better runner on the short track, and he really excels in the fast passes, you should be able to take that off.”

But here’s the problem: Hill excels at both short and deep passes. Although many imagine Hill catching deep passes – and he does – most of his damage takes place in short or intermediate throws that he turns into long wins.

According to PFF’s Ryan Smith, Hill was targeted in deep passes (20 yards or more down) just 17.9% of the time last season, which was 51st among all recipients and tight ends with at least 50 goals.

According to NBC’s Lawrence Jackson, 70.9% of Hill’s targets in 2021 were captured anywhere from 0 to 20 yards from the line of scrimmage; Another 13.7% fell behind the line of scrimmage.

Waddle wasn’t much targeted last year—he only grabbed four fairways that traveled more than 20 air yards—but he was a deeply realized threat in Alabama. Waddle caused the most damage to him last season with short, medium, and post-hunt yards.

“Waddle is so explosive, he seems to come out of the box in the 100m,” former Pro Bowl receiver Chad Johnson said.

A blunder attack might be another option, but that’s risky. One thing is clear to Rivera:

“You have to make sure that if you’re going to risk it [with single coverage on both Hill and Waddle]Rivera said.

“You have to limit players like that, who are explosive players. We played in Kansas City last year and were able to play it for three quarters and in the end they will advance their play. But if you can limit it as much as possible,” it helps.

Washington Hill limited itself with 9 catches for 76 yards and a touchdown in a Kansas City 31-13 win.

A current NFL defensive coordinator, speaking on condition of anonymity, told me: “The [Dolphins will] Chiefs get treated fairly. You have to play at least one deep security. But until now [Tagovailoa] He proves that he can beat you over the top, I’m not sure you need to play deep to be safe [a lot].

“A lot depends on whether you can manage a running game. If you can, you can play two vaults [deep] More if you need to.

“You can blitz [Patrick] Mahomes now and then, but you can’t do that much because it’s so good. If Tua can’t handle lightning attacks, you’ll see teams do it more than they did against the Mahomes. With Tua, it will show us what you can do.

“But there is no doubt that they put weapons around him for him to succeed. [Chase] Edmunds and [Raheem] Mostert, this is a good pairing. And Cedric Wilson [Jr.] He’s a good player you can’t overlook.”

Keep in mind that last season, in third place, Hill had 28 receptions that resulted in first touchdowns – the second most in the league.

In third, Waddle had 23 receptions that resulted in his first defeats—the sixth most in the league.

Hill is eager to see what they can accomplish together. He said the teams would not be able to double their coverage.

He’s a tough competitor just like me,” Hill said. “A lot of guys — they get hits bad because they’re not a monster, their inability to do certain things, their inability to run certain roads, their inability to get in and impress, and hitting a linebacker in the butt. It’s like I was going out — a guy who wants competition, loves the game and wants Just to get better.”

Several NFL coaches — Sean McVeigh of the Rams, Kyle Shanahan of the 49ers — said they are eager to see what Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel can do in his first year with this receiving duo.

“This is a huge challenge with these two,” Rivera said.


The Dolphins have relinquished former Arizona State quarterback Chris Streveler to make room for Edge browser Melvin Ingram’s 90-player roster.

Steveler, who signed earlier this off season, has appeared in seven NFL games for the Cardinals. His departure left three QBs on the roster: Tagovailoa, Teddy Bridgewater and Skylar Thompson from the seventh round.

This story was originally published May 18, 2022 3:30 p.m.

Barry Jackson has written for the Miami Herald since 1986 and has written a Florida Sports Buzz column since 2002.

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