Examining Dolphins TEs coach Jon Embree’s impact

·4 min read

They say a student is only as good as their professor. While this may not be the exact case in the NFL, quality teaching/coaching is key to a successful pupil in developing one’s career.

For the Miami Dolphins, most specifically the tight end position, a new faculty member is bringing his curriculum to the classroom in Miami Gardens. A certain tight end must be as excited as when you got the “cool teacher” back in high school.

Jon Embree may as well have a doctorate in the tight end academia world. Recently of the San Francisco 49ers, and even as an assistant head coach to Kyle Shanahan, Embree’s last student may not have necessarily needed his masterful teaching, as George Kittle is a top-two player at the position.

However, it’s before his tenure with San Francisco, which began during Kittle’s rookie year, conveniently, that there’s tangible proof that Embree gets the absolute best out of his players.

The first stop in Embree’s NFL journey came in Kansas City as the Chiefs tight ends coach. Prior to this role, Embree had a resume cluttered with jobs in college and high school programs, yet the consistency was always the same at the tight end position.

Following roles at Colorado and UCLA, Embree hooked up with Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, well into his stellar career. From 1997 to 2013, the original “basketball player tight end” averaged approximately 78 receptions, 889 yards, and six touchdowns in his illustrious run.

In his three years with Embree, from 2006 to 2008, the touchdowns were nearly identical, yet Gonzalez averaged 89 receptions and 1,043 yards in those campaigns.

Next up for Embree was a trip to Washington where he met Chris Cooley. A fine player in his own right, and a two-time Pro Bowler, Cooley had a career-high in receiving yards with Embree. Cooley caught 77 passes for 849 yards, a nice spike from his career seasonal averages of 60 receptions for 662.

Following Cooley was another one-year stint, and perhaps the most telling. Former Dolphins tight end Jordan Cameron was another “basketball player” that had an underwhelming first two seasons in Cleveland. The fourth-round pick in the 2011 draft out of USC was a three-sport star in high school, playing football, basketball and volleyball.

For the Charles Dickens scholars out there, this is called foreshadowing.

In Cameron’s six NFL seasons, a few shortened by injury, he had one lone Pro Bowl campaign. When was that? You guessed it, it was in 2013; Embree’s season with him.

Cameron had a career year by a mile with 80 receptions, 917 yards, and a whopping seven touchdowns. This compared favorably to his next-best seasons in those statistics – 35 catches and three scores in 2015 with Miami and 424 yards in 2014 back in Cleveland.

Following his time with the Browns, Embree found his way to Tampa Bay, and for three seasons, he had Cameron Brate. 2014 was Brate’s rookie year, matching Embree’s start as a Buccaneer. While he had a steady development in the first two seasons, Brate had a career year in 2016, Embree’s last in Tampa Bay. Brate was the Buccaneers’ second-leading touchdown scorer with eight, and yardage producer with 660, both behind Mike Evans.

Brate’s 57 receptions, 660 yards, and those eight touchdowns were massive spikes from a career average of 32 receptions, 335 yards and four touchdowns.

Now in Miami, Embree gets to work with freshly franchise-tagged, and former three-sport high school star, Mike Gesicki. The charismatic and talented Dolphins tight end was secured for at least another year on the same week of his wedding and honeymoon. While the Gesickis were a match made in the football heaven at Penn State University, Embree and No. 88 are a match made in the red zone.

It’ll be fun and exciting to see how Embree, head coach Mike McDaniel and offensive coordinator Frank Smith utilize Gesicki. He’s coming off career-highs last season in both receptions and yards. His touchdown output was his lowest since his rookie season with just a pair, and that could be attributed to a lack of usage and targets in that area of the field with Miami’s previous regime.

If a bar is to be set on a statistical outlook for Gesicki in 2022 80 receptions, 900 yards and a new high in touchdowns would be a great gift in a year that’s already been pretty kind to this rising star.

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