The 2013 season is now in the rear-view mirror for the Miami Dolphins. Given the disaster that transpired during the final two games for the team, when the Dolphins lost to the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets in embarrassing fashion with a wild card spot on the line, most fans would rather look ahead to 2014 than back on another letdown.
But several Dolphins players had standout campaigns and deserve some recognition for doing so. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be ranking the top 20 Dolphins of the 2013 season. Let’s begin at No. 20.
No. 20: Rishard Matthews, wide receiver
Receiving Yards: 448
Pro Football Focus breakdown
Position rank: 43 of 111
Snaps played: 529
Dropped passes: 1
Why he’s No. 20
When Brandon Gibson went down for the season in Week 8 with a knee injury there was a huge void left at slot receiver. That void was filled by Rishard Matthews, a former seventh-round pick who caught 11 passes as a rookie in 2012. Once Matthews became the starting slot receiver it didn’t take him long to find his stride or develop a rapport with quarterback Ryan Tannehill. In Week 10, Matthews caught 11 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, seemingly putting an otherwise flat team on his back and nearly helping it pull off a comeback win. Matthews made some key grabs down the stretch of the season, including a beautiful 24-yard reception on Miami’s final drive in its victory over the New England Patriots in Week 15. He could be the team’s long-term answer at slot receiver.
Why he’s not higher
Matthews had some big games and moments in 2013, but inconsistency prevented him from having a more productive season. He registered three games with over 50 receiving yards in the final nine weeks but also three games with under 10. While Matthews was fairly sure-handed throughout the year, he had a devastating drop against the Jets with plenty of room to run in Week 17. Not only did that drop likely prevent Miami points, but it also gave the ball back to New York with time to score before halftime.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.