The Dolphins waited and waited and waited some more for receiver DeVante Parker to have the kind of year he’s having. The man who coached Parker for three years, and who’ll face Parker on Sunday, has a simple explanation for Parker’s belated breakout.
“With DeVante, it was more with the injuries than anything,” said Jets coach Adam Gase, who coached Parker from 2016 through 2018, on Thursday during a press conference. “2017, really thought that was going to be the year, it looked like it was going to be a really good year for him, he had a really good training camp, even with the quarterback change that we had. Ryan [Tannehill] went down and [Jay] Cutler came in, they were hooking up pretty good. I can’t remember what game it was; it was like third or fourth week, he got hurt and then we lost him for a while and then he was trying to come back, and he just wasn’t right. 2018, it was just same thing, we started out, he got hurt so early, and then just kind of didn’t work out. This is probably the first year where he’s been healthy for a long period of time.”
Parker has 854 receiving yards in 12 games this season, putting him on pace for 1,138. That would be nearly 400 yards more than his prior single-season high. Parker particularly has caught fire in the last three games, with 20 catches, 385 yards, and two touchdowns.
Whatever the issue was from 2016 through 2018, Gase says it wasn’t an inability to learn the offense.
“He played the X [receiver position], that’s like the easiest position to play,” Gase said.
Parker has won the trust of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who told PFT after Sunday’s win over the Eagles that the game plan didn’t call for such heavy use of Parker, but that Fitzpatrick sensed once Parker made his first big catch of the game that it was going to be his day.
It’s also been his year, and it was wise for the Dolphins to flip his fifth-year option into a two-year deal that keeps him under contract through 2020. If he has another big year next year, he’ll be in position to land a big contract on the open market — unless the Dolphins give him one first.