Dolphins 2021 Week 1 Snap Counts ... And What They Mean

The stories and possible implications behind the playing time in the Miami Dolphins victory against new England
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What stood out in the snap counts from the Miami Dolphins' 17-16 victory against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Week 1 was the low number for a trio of prominent players.

But how we got there was quite different for those three: Mike Gesicki, Austin Jackson and Raekwon Davis.

We'll start with Jackson, who ended up being active after spending the week on the COVID-19 list, being activated but put on the injury report Saturday, then removed from the injury report Sunday.

In the end, Jackson ended up playing only three snaps against the Patriots, all of them on special teams — as a blocker on the field goal unit.

The Dolphins went with rookie second-round pick Liam Eichenberg as the starting left tackle and he joined the other four offensive line starters in playing all 54 offensive snaps.

Newcomer Greg Little, the former second-round pick acquired in an August trade with the Carolina Panthers, was another option to start at left tackle but he ended up being inactive against New England.

Head coach Brian Flores said after the game the decision to go with Eichenberg was made to have the "best five guys" in the lineup — though what wasn't answered was whether that meant for this particular game or in general.

There's a distinction to be made there because it's possible that Eichenberg was a "better guy" for the New England game because Jackson hadn't practice all week even though Jackson is the "better guy" if all things are equal.

For Raekwon Davis, him being limited to only five snaps was the result of the knee injury he sustained on New England's opening drive.

The Dolphins listed Davis as questionable after he left the game, but he never did return even though he was spotted standing on the sideline.

There was no word after the game as to the severity of his injury, and that's obviously an issue that will bear watching in the next couple of days.

Finally, we get to Gesicki, who went without a catch for the second time since his rookie season of 2018.

More significantly, Gesicki played only 21 snaps, which was his lowest total since the 2018 season finale at Buffalo at the end of his rookie season.

Durham Smythe, who is pretty well established as the best blocking tight end on the team, easily got the most snaps among Dolphins players at that position with 38. Even rookie third-round pick Hunter Long played almost as much as Gesicki did, with 18 snaps, while newcomer Cethan Carter played 13 snaps.

There was no sign or word of an injury, which means Gesicki's lack of playing time had to do with game-planning.

While we're not ones to overreact, this might be a sign of sorts when we start to anticipate what the Dolphins are going to prioritize throughout the season and next offseason with Smythe and Gesicki both scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next spring.

Put simply, can we really expect the Dolphins to get involved in a bidding war to keep Gesicki after using him only 21 snaps?

The best guess is that the tight end snaps will vary from week to week, but this still was telling.

Other notes from the snap counts:

-- Center/guard Greg Mancz and rookie guard Robert Jones were the only two players who dressed but did not play against the Patriots.

-- Along with the specialists and Jackson, Jamal Perry and Clayton Fejedelem were the only two players whose only action came on special teams.

-- Having discussed Eichenberg and Long, the other 2021 draft picks' snap counts read as follows: WR Jaylen Wadde, 43 snaps (80 percent) on offense; LB Jaelan Phillips, 22 snaps (29 percent); S Jevon Holland, 24 snaps (32 percent).

-- The Dolphins started Waddle and DeVante Parker at wide receiver and they were clearly the two go-to guys at that position. Parker led the way with 45 snaps, followed by Waddle with 43, and Albert Wilson was next with 22 snaps, with Mack Hollins and Jakeem Grant getting seven apiece.

-- The running back snaps were fairly well spread out, as expected, with Myles Gaskin getting 29 snaps to 16 for Malcolm Brown and 11 for Salvon Ahmed.

-- On defense, cornerbacks Byron Jones and Xavien Howard were the two players to play all 75 snaps, while Jason McCourty and Jerome Baker were off the field for only one snap.