Monday, August 17, 2009

Ted Ginn: Becoming the Go-to WR?

Tedd Ginn is who the 'Phins thought he was!

Let's flashback a couple of years to the 2007 NFL Draft, when the Dolphins held the ninth overall pick. Remember that day? Brady Quinn was free-falling from the top of draft boards and seemingly into the laps of the Dolphins, who had been in desperate search of a franchise quarterback since Dan Marino hung up his pads. Everything seemed to fall into place for the Dolphins at that point. Then, as a shock to the world, it was announced that the team had drafted Ted Ginn, Jr. with the ninth overall pick.

The pick was heavily booed by fans at the Dolphins' official draft party, and questioned by nearly everybody, especially after then-Dolphins coach Cam Cameron assured fans that the team didn't just draft Ted Ginn, but his family, as well. That would have been great and all, if his family could run a pro-style offense or lead block.

I admit, I was just as dumbfounded as everyone else when it happened, but I wanted to give Ginn a shot to prove himself before I judged him completely. Then the 2007 season happened. Ginn had 34 receptions for 420 yards and 2 touchdowns. Those numbers weren't great for what was supposed to be the team's next big scoring threat. It also didn't help matters any that the team finished the season 1-15.

There was even more outrage over Ginn's selection, and fans wanted to label him a bust (I'm guilty of that, too, for the record). Then the 2008 season came around. The Dolphins had a legitimate quarterback taking snaps: Chad Pennington. Surely, Ginn would become the elite receiver the Dolphins expected him to be when the team drafted him. He did, sort of. He gained 790 yards receiving in his second season, and caught 2 more touchdowns. Still, not amazing.

However, there were a few instances when he showed signs of being the Dolphins go-to receiver. He had a career-high 175 receiving yards against the Bills in week 8. He also came up big in week 17 against the Jets with the division title on the line: 2 receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown.

He was still just a glorified return man trying to make his way as the team's deep threat receiver.

This offseason, coach Tony Sparano spoke highly of Ginn's improvement on the field:

"I've seen in some situations him be pretty dominant. The offense has started to slow down for him. I really have seen him be, in some situations, pretty dominant. You can see his confidence really is at a high level right now. He's running better, playing a little bit stronger and really understands what's going on around him"

That could have easily been accepted as a head coach talking up his player, but then the Dolphins' first preseason game rolled around Monday night, and I have to say, Ginn looked impressive in his minimal playing time.

Ginn had 2 receptions for 26 yards, and both were for first down conversions. His route-running was on-point, he showed a good display of soft hands and he even drew a pass interference call on the Jaguars for another first down on a ball that should have been a 98-yard touchdown reception had the ball been thrown better (speculation, I know, but I like to think it's true). Ginn also had a 14-yard rush on an end-around, for another first down. In other words, he touched the ball four times, and each time resulted in a first down for the Dolphins, who eventually won the game 12-9.

I realize it's only the preseason, so I probably shouldn't read too much into Ginn's performance, because hey, even the Lions went undefeated in the preseason last year, and we all know how that ended. Regardless, Ginn looks poised for a breakout season, and a chance to prove to all the DolFans and media out there that he was not a reach with the ninth overall pick in 2007, that he isn't a draft bust, and most importantly, that he can be that go-to receiver the Dolphins will turn to when they need a play.

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