Even though the Miami Dolphins spent over 100 million in new contracts to get targets Mike Wallace and Justin Keller for Ryan Tannehill this season, the most intriguing, and yet mysterious move was to jettison fan favorite Davone Bess and sign Brandon Gibson, formerly of the St. Louis Rams.
While this signing was rumored to occur at the opening of free agency, the Dolphins’ Jeff Ireland and Coach Philbin were most intrigued by his skill set to play the X, Y, and Z positions for Miami. Gibson, while not a speedster, 4.59 combine numbers in the 40, has good size and speed for a slot receiver and takes on the role of possession receiver in Miami’s west coast offense.
However, if you compare Brandon Gibson versus Davone Bess in their careers, there is no comparison. Bess comes out far more productive.
Where both receivers came into the league in different years (2008-Bess, 2009-Gibson), only one was drafted-Brandon Gibson in the 6th round by the Eagles. That same year, he was from the Eagles to the Rams where he played in nine games and started four.
However, later in 2009, Gibson managed to get 34 receptions and scored one touchdown. In 2010, Gibson raised his total of receptions to 52 and 2 touchdowns. In that same two year split, Gibson versus Bess, Bess caught 54 passes for 554 yards and 1 touchdown and in 2009 76 passes for 758 yards and two touchdowns. Clearly Bess had a better two first years in the league catching 130 passes and three touchdowns. On the contrary, Brandon Gibson caught five touchdowns last season for an up and coming Rams franchise that lacked any star receivers versus Bess who caugth one touchdown.
Overall, in Gibson’s seasons with the Rams, 2,090 yards with 9 touchdowns versus Bess’ 3,447 yards and 12 touchdowns with one more year in the league than Gibson.
Even looking at the receptions Bess clearly wins out in this statistical comparison with 321 versus Gibson’s 174.
So, now you are thinking, gee, why on earth would the Dolphins get this guy and dump a guy that was statistically more productive?
Despite the fortitude and the determination that Bess showed in his first season by rising up the depth chart from undrafted free-agent to being a leader on the team by his 5th season, his leadership by example was nowhere to be found the last four games in his 4th season.
Despite making acrobatic catches on the sidelines where he would toe tap and cause other teams to use their challenges, the Dolphins needed Bess to play through pain and suck it up for the last few weeks of the season.
Bess did not finish the season as strong as he should have and would have had he been healthy. One clear play where the lack of explosive receivers for Miami came to a head was in San Francisco, where the Dolphins needed another TD and a field goal to tie and Tannehill threw the ball inside the 10 on a post pattern and Bess was clearly not going to get that football. It sailed over his head and there was no attempt to grab at the ball. That failed attempt demonstrated that not only did the Dolphins lack the weaponry to move this offense down field, but that Bess was playing out of position as a deep threat.