The Miami Dolphins‘ offense this season will have a very different look to it, as the team has added several new players that I consider upgrades. But the slot receiver position will be significantly different. Time will tell if the Dolphins new look in the slot will be better than, worse than or the same as when Davone Bess was in the slot for the past five years.
Miami opens the season on the road against the Cleveland Browns, who acquired Bess for peanuts. This was a tad surprising because on a roster that has been sketchy the last several seasons, Dolphins fans could count on Bess to perform and produce. The University of Hawaii product averaged 64 catches on 100 targets for 690 yards and 37 first downs annually, but issues — surprisingly — came up as the 2012 season was in the final stretch. Bess had never missed a game for the Dolphins, but a back issue kept him out of the final three games. Word out of Florida is that management was not sold that the injury required Bess to miss as much time as he did. A rift seemingly formed, and the Joe Philbin regime became very willing to move on from Bess.
This regime is desperate to get their skill players to make big plays and ultimately score, but over his five seasons, Bess had a measly dozen touchdowns for Miami. Ultimately, that looks like a big issue. Bess is as just about good as it gets on third down — only Roddy White has been better over past five years — so that is a massive hole to fill and Miami will be looking to guys like Brandon Gibson and Armon Binns to pick up their games and pick up that slack, but the lack of TDs coupled with the way 2012 ended surely led to Philbin and the Dolphins being ready/willing/able to move on from him.
This offseason, Dolphins fans with Bess jerseys, Reggie Bush jerseys and Jake Long jerseys — and if anyone had a Sean Smith jersey — were all left wondering what current player’s jersey to replace these guys with. All were fairly popular, especially Bess, so his divorce from the team has hit the fanbase pretty hard. I am sure Dolphins fans wish Bess all the best, but not until after Week 1. There are so many new additions to be excited about this season for Miami, but surely we will all notice that things look a bit odd without a no. 15 Bess jersey working the slot for this team.