On Tuesday, the Miami Dolphins traded a slew of picks for Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Hill will be joining Mike McDaniel in his first year in Miami, and the Chiefs received a first, second, two fourths and a sixth round pick in the NFL Draft for the six-time Pro-Bowler.
Miami sees Hill as the missing piece to a contending roster, and clearly envision him having high production in McDaniel’s scheme, but it won’t be coming in the same ways as it did in Kansas City.
Andy Reid and Kansas City’s Offense
Andy Reid, who was Hill’s coach throughout his NFL career, runs a vastly different scheme than McDaniel. Coming from a vaunted BYU coaching tree, Reid runs more air-raid passing elements. His offense thrives in the shotgun, typically having receivers spread out across the field, making their money in the deep passing game.
Kansas City, especially after bringing in Patrick Mahomes, committed to the deep passing game, in which Hill thrived. His ability to take the top off of the defense was his best skill, and it vaulted the Chiefs into contention.
His vertical speed made it nearly impossible to guard their offense, and allowed others to succeed as well. Among them, tight end Travis Kelce had major success coming over the middle and finding open space.
This came primarily out of 11 personnel, which KC brought out 64 percent of the time, and was the staple of their offense.
Tyreek Hill with Mike McDaniel and the Miami Dolphins
This, while something that will be used under Mike McDaniel, will likely no longer be the calling card of Hill’s game. McDaniel, whose offense I broke down in a previous article, operates in much more condensed formations.
They pride themselves on being run first, so the formations involve much more use of fullbacks and tight ends. San Francisco ran a league high 34 percent of their plays in 12 personnel (1 running back and 2 tight ends). This is a stark contrast from Kansas City, who only ran this grouping five percent of the time.
Being more condensed means not only a more heavy run focus, but also different plays in the passing game.
San Francisco did a lot of their damage in the play action, dialing up timely crossers after gashing with the run. Their receivers (namely Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel) would often use their speed to get out in space for YAC (yards after catch). This is where Hill fits in nicely.
Although, he was known for the aforementioned deep receiving ability, he was deadly after the catch. When they weren’t running him deep, Kansas City often used Tyreek on crossers to get him targets in space.
Success Over the Middle
Prime examples of this were found in 2021, especially in the playoffs. When Kansas City faced two high safeties, such as they did against the Bills, they were forced to adapt. This meant more consistent short passes and crossing patterns, and Hill was just as — if not more — effective.
Being what NFL fans and media define as a “gamebreaker”, it’s simply difficult to stop Hill on crossers.
He makes defenders who believe they have positioning look silly, using generational speed to pass them and ruin their angles. This bodes well for him in Miami, which, under Mike McDaniel, is expected to run a high amount of crossers.
McDaniel has stated that he is enamored with players who can win in space, and that shows with Hill. His ability will be maximized on crossing routes, and much of his success will hinge on Tua Tagovailoa.
How will Tyreek Hill fit with Tua Tagovailoa?
Although many see Hill as a poor fit with Tua, it may be quite the opposite.
Coming out of college at Alabama, Tagovailoa was regarded as one of the best short-to-intermediate throwers in his class. This has translated well into the NFL, and he has quickly become a consistent threat in the RAC game.
His ball placement — one of his best skills — helped Jaylen Waddle reach over 1,000 yards in his rookie season. In a scheme that prioritizes his best throws, this can do just as well for Hill.
They both have a knack for working well in the middle of the field, and if Tua is able to find Hill in space, it will be dangerous for opposing defenses.
With Tagovailoa at quarterback, it’s safe to say that we will be seeing the new Dolphin between the numbers quite often. They will clearly use his deep-threat skillset, but the short and intermediate game will be his bread-and-butter.
The Element of Gravity
Tyreek Hill, much like is described with Stephen Curry in the NBA, brings a level of gravity that is unmatched by many.
Teams fear his ability to go over the top, so they bring the strength of their defense over to his side. This opens up others across the team, none more exciting than second-year receiver Jaylen Waddle.
Coming off his aforementioned 1,000 yard season, Waddle broke the rookie receptions record. He was consistently Tua’s number one option, and while that will likely change, so will the quality of his targets.
Waddle and Gesicki
The primary issue with Waddle’s season was not one of his own doing.
Due to a variety of offensive issues (line play, playcalling, quarterback inconsistencies, etc.), Waddle was unable to find many deep targets, which was his number one trait in college.
When combined with being focused on as the number one playmaker, we weren’t able to see as many big plays as anticipated. However, Tyreek Hill’s arrival in Miami will mark a change.
Defenses can’t double team both receivers, and with consistent one-on-one matchups as well as deeper routes called, Waddle can be much more explosive.
It’s very possible that we see one of Hill or Waddle working over the top. Thus, opening up the middle of the field for the other weapons. Notably, the other of the two.
A similar effect will be seen for Mike Gesicki, who can reap the benefits of a Kelce or George Kittle.
Opposite the most explosive receiver duo in the NFL, the middle of the field will be more open. Furthermore, teams won’t be able to dedicate the defenders to him that they were previously able to.
When there isn’t safety help, teams will be forced to lighten the box or put a linebacker on him. The latter of which is a clear mismatch, and further expands the role for the recently franchise tagged tight end.
The Deebo Factor and the Bottom Line on Tyreek Hill and the Miami Dolphins
The most important question, which I broke down previously, was how similar Hill’s role will be to Deebo Samuel.
The receiving portion of their games, shockingly enough, will likely be similar. Both will operate in the open middle of the field. However, it’s likely we don’t see Hill rushing in the same way as Samuel.
Deebo has a listed 31 pounds over Tyreek, and is able to work between the tackles how few players can. McDaniel himself stated that Samuel is a one-of-a-kind player, and that looking for him won’t bring strong results. It was maximizing talent, however, that brought the results we saw of 2021’s All-Pro.
The role we saw Samuel in was custom built for him, and I expect the same thing for Hill.
It’s conceivable that we can see some similar backfield work, and Tyreek will definitely be in motion. However, his role will be unique to his skill set as a player, which is just as one-of-a-kind as Samuel — albeit in a different way.
While we can all guess what his role will be, it’s just conjecture for now. It will be fascinating to see how Miami utilizes their weapons, and it will start with their newest toy as Tyreek Hill plays his first season for the Miami Dolphins.
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