As the Dolphins began preparing for their Monday night game against the Patriots this past Wednesday, wide receiver DeVante Parker stated what can only be described as the painfully obvious.
Oh, Parker needs to pick it up alright. In his last three games Parker has caught just six passes for 36 yards, including just two for 10 yards in the last two games.
But those paltry numbers are not even the biggest part of the problem. The greater issue is that over the same span of time, the defenders guarding Parker have caught five passes.
That’s just one less than Parker has caught, and when you consider those five picks have come on 16 targets it’s easy to conclude that throwing to Parker has suddenly become detrimental to the Dolphins’ health.
Further compounding the problem is the fact Parker has “no clue’’ what’s gone so terribly wrong, though that may not actually be the case. It seems Parker does know, at least in part, where the problem lies.
A couple of the picks have occurred on plays in which the pass thrown to Parker was underthrown or off target, but not so much that Parker could not have adjusted and made a play on the ball.
“I could have done something on all of them,” Parker admits. “Just try to come back and break it up or bat it out of the defender’s hand. If I can’t get it, (I can’t) let someone else get it.’’
That’s what his coaches have been encouraging him to do. Teammates, meanwhile, have tried “challenging him’’ to be better and “encouraging him’’ that the slump will soon end as long as he works at it.
“We’ve got to get him believing in himself and using his talents because he’s an immensely talented dude,’’ quarterback Jay Cutler said. “And he’s a good kid. He wants to do it right.
“It’s a matter of just finding ways to keep him confident. He’s very approachable. He’s not a confrontational dude. No real big ego there. He just wants to do it right and be a good to great player.’’
Greatness is what was predicted for Parker this year. After he caught 56 passes for 744 yards and four touchdowns last year, Dolphins receivers coach Shawn Jefferson famously referred to Parker as a “monster’’ talent.
“He’s going to the Monster’s Ball,’’ Jefferson effused prior to the start of the season. Funny, but Jeffers has been proven right on that matter. Only problem is, the Monter’s Ball has become a nightmare.
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