Lost in the shuffle in the highlights of the Dolphins incredible win versus the Colts, is the play of Charles Clay. Sure Mike Wallace stole headlines with his 9 catch performance, but Clay delivered early jabs at the Colts until delivering the go ahead score running the ball as a full back.
In an interview with Joe Rose on Monday morning: Charles Clay made two comments that should give the Dolphins fans confidence in their team
First, when faced with the prospects of Dustin Keller going down with a tragic knee injury Clay responded to Joe Rose of WQAM:
"Can't get too down and got to stay even keel…focusing on the play at hand."
On if Clay runs and carries the ball in practice: Basicially, since this coaching staff arrived, they wanted him to not get "too rusty carrying the football."
Here's the thing, Clay right now at this juncture of the season is playing like a playmaking tight end and is showing he can be every bit as good as Keller.
For one, Charles clay is no stranger to criticism after a lackluster effort in training camp a season ago. In fact, since cameras were allowed to see offensive coordinator Mike Sherman berate him, he's come a long way. Today, when Joe Rose of WQAM posed this question, Clay responded very matter of factly that "Coach Sherman wanted to see" what could make him better. Of course, he laughed when saying it and that shows he is learning to handle things well and take them in stride.
The biggest turnaround that Clay has made has been his ability to cancel out the last bad play that he makes and make an adjustment on the very next play. Of course, this tactic is psychologically difficult given that the margin for error is next to nil in the NFL. However, Clay finds away to focus on what he can do on the next play.
The numbers don't lie up until this point and being second team in receptions with 10 and 163 yards receiving shows how far this 6th round pick has come. From being a under-utilized threat during the 2011 season, Charles Clay caught a winning TD versus the Jets to close out a 6-10 season.
Heading into the 2012 season with a new coaching staff and head coach Joe Philbin, it was unclear what exactly his role would be given his inconsistency early on in training camp in 2012. One thing is for certain that chance and circumstance happen for a reason and Ryan Tannehill's first touchdown last year in the preseason was to none other than Charles Clay, playing second and third team.
At this point, what Charles Clay is doing, is perhaps more than Jeff Ireland had envisioned for him. At this point developing into a viable threat in this Miami offense and a threat that no other tight end has eclipsed since the likes of Randy McMichael and Keith Jackson. You see, Charles Clay can run the seam route just as well as the young tight ends in the NFL. He is instantly a poor man's Vernon Davis, Antonio Gates, or Gronkowski. To the Dolphins he is Charles Clay and that valuable to them now and into the future.
Last year, RyanTannehill went to Charles Clay in a big win versus Seattle after sneaking into the shadows of Sun Life stadium and catching a game deciding TD catch to tie the game. The play put Quarterback Ryan Tannehill on the map with his first come from behind win as well as Charles Clay showing he can make a big play when it counts. In addition, last season in Indianapolis he scored a long TD after getting open down the sideline and Tannehill hit him for a big TD.
Despite the personnel decisions in Miami, Clay and Tannehill have developed and uncanny combination that is just now beginning to come to fruition.
In this past week's game versus the Colts, Clay showcased his versatility on two plays, a 67 yard catch and run on the second drive of the game and a one yard Goal line carry for a touchdown. Two plays that resulted in big scores for Miami, including the rare carry for a touchdown that not even the broadcasters Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts saw coming.
As the season wears on, the Dolphins opponents should not take the combination to Charles Clay lightly, because he will, combined with arm of Ryan Tannehill beat you down the field. That's something that hasn't been seen in these parts since Marino to Keith Jackson. However, Clay is versatile and can beat you in more ways than one. The question is, which way will the Dolphins utilize him week to week?