The Miami Dolphins’ season-opening win over the Chargers followed the same script as last season when eight of the team’s 10 wins came by a touchdown or less.
The Dolphins again won ugly and in the final moments, but there was one major discernible difference that should have Dolphins fans ecstatic: DeVante Parker finally looks like the extraterrestrial they thought they were drafting at No. 14 overall in 2015.
One game into his third season and for the first time he looks like he could be labeled under the same freak category as fellow aliens Julio Jones and A.J. Green, players with the rare ability to take over football games with mere presence due to an imposing combination of size, speed, and skill.
Parker teased us in the preseason but unleashed in Los Angeles on Sunday, hauling in four catches for a team-leading 85 yards — and he should’ve been over 100 if not for a bizarre catch that was ruled an incompletion when it looked like a fumble.
His performance wasn’t perfect and he left chunks of yardage on the field — he dropped a very catchable touchdown midway through the fourth quarter and nearly had another 50-50 ball — but he consistently displayed game-breaking ability from start to finish, bullying corners on deep balls while turning interceptable passes into monster gains.
These Dolphins wideouts are scary man pic.twitter.com/YrKDFaWQ4I
— Josh Baumgard (@joshbaumgard) September 17, 2017
Keep in mind this was while playing with a quarterback in Jay Cutler who, until yesterday, hadn’t launched a regular season pass since last November. The Chargers also boast a talented group of cornerbacks and a dynamic pass rush. Conditions were far from optimal and yet Parker’s performance was dynamic, offering a slew of big-time plays while averaging 21.3 yards per catch.
Never have the Dolphins had this type of a talent at receiver in my tenure as a Dolphins fan (think post-2000). Chris Chambers was a great athlete but lacked Parker’s size. Orande Gadsen had impressive size but didn’t possess Parker’s speed. Wes Welker was highly skilled but didn’t scare anyone.
The 6-foot-3 Parker appears to be ready to become Miami’s No. 1 wideout this season. Kenny Stills offers supreme speed and Jarvis Landry has some of the best hands in football, but neither offers the total package that Parker put on display yesterday. Perhaps he won’t lead the team in targets with Landry’s quick-hitting style an extension of the running game, but as far as invoking fear in the defense, it’s not close. Now it’s a matter of consistency.
The great ones, in any sport, have this innate ability to make the game look effortless and for the first time in DeVante Parker’s professional career, that type of stellar performance was on display on Sunday.