Dolphins will need 2019 version of DeVante Parker in Week 17

Kyle Crabbs
·2 min read

Ahead of the Miami Dolphins’ critical Week 15 matchup against the New England Patriots, it seemed as though the Dolphins would be able to get some reinforcements from their injured skill group. TE Mike Gesicki and WRs DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant were all questionable but there was optimism that at least Parker would be ready to go in the buildup to the game. He wasn’t. Parker, along with Grant and Gesicki, did not dress in the Dolphins’ 22-12 win over the Patriots. Fast forward to this week and Grant and Gesicki were back in action — yet Parker was mysteriously absent from the lineup due to the hamstring issue that had kept him out of the game against the Patriots in the week prior.

It’s a strange development, given how the impression was that Parker was set to play Week 15 based on a report by ESPN the night before the Patriots game.

Regardless of how we’ve gotten to this juncture, one thing is clear: the Miami Dolphins cannot afford to press forward any further in their bid to the postseason without Parker in the fray. And not just any version of DeVante Parker, either. The Dolphins need the 2019 edition of their No. 1 wide receiver to take the field against the Buffalo Bills next weekend. The Dolphins’ passing game has sorely missed Parker’s presence on the field; the attention he commands and the physicality he offers to win routes at the top of route stems can appeal to both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tua Tagovailoa.

The chemistry with Tagovailoa is not to an optimal level yet — the Dolphins’ rookie quarterback is still learning the finer details of tightroping ball security and throwing tight window throws at the NFL level. But if the Dolphins try to threaten the Buffalo Bills without Parker’s presence on the field, this Cinderella run to the postseason may run out of gas just short of the finish line. Sure, the Dolphins may end up facing a bare bones Bills team in Week 17; which would help the cause, too. But Miami’s ability to hang with a full-strength Bills team or, alternatively, contend with the AFC playoff field, hinges on finding big plays.

No one made more of them than DeVante Parker in 2019 form. So Miami should cross their fingers and hope that the hamstring issue that has been lingering over Parker the past few weeks clears up sooner rather than later — because we’ve entered the endgame of the 2020 NFL season and there’s nothing left to hold back for.