Brian Hartline led the Miami Dolphins’ receiving corps in almost every major category in 2012, and the Dolphins rewarded him with a big, new contract and some help alongside him.
The Dolphins’ additions of Mike Wallace and Dustin Keller this offseason give quarterback Ryan Tannehill the weapons necessary to compete with Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense. With his new teammates now in place, Hartline thinks the Dolphins have better receivers than the Patriots and the other two teams in the AFC East.
“Absolutely, I think we are [the best],” Hartline said in an interview on NFL AM on Monday. “The whole passing game is an advantage of ours.”
Hartline’s claim may seem pretty bold, considering the Patriots led the NFL in total offense and finished fourth in passing offense — 22 spots higher than Miami — last season. But the Patriots also redid their receiving corps during the offseason, and to far less fanfare. Sure, Brady is still the best quarterback in the division by a wide margin, but Hartline seems to believe Tannehill can trim that gap.
“A lot of [Tannehill's growth] has been the communication and the development between player and coach,” Hartline said. “You can see coach [Joe] Philbin coming into his own as well, Mike Sherman feeling just more comfortable as coaching staff. Being able to use all different parts … we have a lot of new parts. Although very important that we got them, it’s also very important that we mesh and work together … and that is something that we are working on now.”
The Dolphins can continue claiming their superiority after such an exciting offseason, but they’ll still need to prove it against their division foes out on the field. They’ll get their first shot against the Bills in Week 7 followed by a trip to New England in Week 8.