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Parker, Fuller and Other Offensive Thoughts

It certain would seem like a big deal for the Miami Dolphins to get their two high-profile wide receivers back, but would it really make that big of a difference?

The Miami Dolphins might get high-profile wide receivers DeVante Parker and Will Fuller V back in the lineup at some point, and it sure sounds like that would be a huge boost for the offense.

But, if we're being honest, would it really make that much of a difference?

In making that argument, we obviously could start with the fact that the Dolphins' four-game winning streak has been accomplished with both Parker and Fuller on injured reserve.

The winning streak actually started with the first game Parker missed, which was the Nov. 7 outing against Houston. Fuller, meanwhile, has been on IR since early October after playing in only two games.

Let's also consider the fact that Tua Tagovailoa is playing the best football of his career right now, and again that's been done without Parker and Fuller.

As most Dolphins fans know by now, Tua completed 87 percent of his passes in the 33-10 victory against Carolina on Sunday by going 27 of 31, and do we really believe the percentage would have been higher with either Parker or Fuller?

This is the point where somebody is going to mention that Parker and Fuller would allow Tua to throw more passes downfield.

But would it really?

More importantly, should it?

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It should be pretty obvious by now that Tua's strength as a quarterback is his accuracy on short and intermediate passes and his quick release, and Fuller's strength as a wide receiver very clearly is — as the jargon says — his ability to take the top off a defense.

So let's just say that Fuller isn't necessarily a great fit for what Tua does best. If Fuller is being used to run intermediate routes — say, a comeback route or quick out — is he really that much better for Tua right now that someone like Mack Hollins, Isaiah Ford or even one of the tight ends?

Parker's return actually would be a benefit because of his ability to win jump balls down the sideline, one of the few deep routes that Tua consistently has thrown in his time with the Dolphins. Parker also is effective on the slant, but Jaylen Waddle has been so good at it in recent weeks that it's made Parker nearly irrelevant in that part of the passing game.

The offense is functioning very well these days and Tua is thriving with a quick, short passing game and it's functioning very well with the receivers on the roster.

There are some pundits — Dan Orlovsky of ESPN was the latest one — who seem to think that Tua automatically will take his game to another level with a better offensive line and better wide receivers.

But, again, we'll make this point: Tua at his best is a highly efficient ball distributor, which is what he did so well against the Jets and even more so against Carolina, and that's what the offensive coaches have been asking him to do.

Obviously, any quarterback would benefit from having two Pro Bowl wide receivers around them with five stud offensive linemen in front, but that's not reality and it's also not what every quarterback needs.

Tua is coming off back-to-back games with a completion percentage over 80 with that supporting cast that everybody is so quick to knock, and he's obviously not done it by himself.

Tua being able to complete so many passes means that either the offensive line is protecting him or the receivers are getting open quickly enough to allow him to get rid of the ball before the pass rush gets to him or creative play-calling is masking all of the offense's personnel shortcomings.

However you slice it, the offense was highly efficient the past two games, with only a few mistakes — the pick against the Jets, the two bad snaps against Carolina — that stood out.

There's no reason the Dolphins can't keep that trend going, with or without Fuller and/or Parker.