With the 2020 season beginning today, the Miami Dolphins have used the extra team practices after preseason was canceled to find their No. 3 wide receiver for the season.
After Miami saw WRs Albert Wilson, the former No. 3, opt-out due to COVID-19 and Allen Hurns do the same, not only did the Dolphins turn to free agency but also heavily worked out the wideouts already on their roster/practice squad.
For Miami, Isaiah Ford has been the WR to show the most promise and will get the start today in the Dolphins’ national game against the New England Patriots.
Veteran Making First NFL Start
Ford was drafted by the Dolphins in 2018 and in his two seasons with the team, he has appeared in nine games. He stepped onto the field once during his rookie year and eight times in 2019, but has zero career starts.
Under Fitzpatrick, Ford Has Had Best Showings
With limited playing time, Ford has caught only 23-of-36 passes for 244 receiving yards. 16 of those catches have gone for first downs. Ford has averaged 10.6 yards per reception and his longest career-catch was 28 yards. He had his best career game in week 13 last season against the New York Jets when he tallied 92 yards on six catches (nine targets).
Ford: Virginia Tech Standout
Before becoming a Dolphin, Ford was a Hokie playing for Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, better known as Virginia Tech, for three years. He played in 13 games each season and managed to grow in terms of his offensive output.
During his freshman year he caught 56 passes for 709 receiving yards and six touchdowns. In his sophomore year he saw more growth, finding himself on the receiving end of 75 passes for 1,164 yards and 11 touchdowns. His last year saw him produce 79 catches for 1,094 yards and seven touchdowns. He never averaged below 12 yards per catch in college, helping him earn a spot in the NFL. Ford was drafted in the seventh round, No. 237th overall, in 2017 to Miami.
Catching, Route Running Abilities Likely Earned Ford the Start
He has displayed both catching and route running ability to garner the starting nod today. His prowess has gained the respect of some of his more experienced teammates, including quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was a big part of Ford’s most successful career game last season.
Fitzpatrick also said Ford knows the playbook better than a lot of guys and will stay before and after practice working. He also said that Ford has been a guy that has been consistent and so determined since he joined the team two years back and just wants a chance to prove it. Well, he gets that today.
Ford Incorrectly Placed on Depth Chart?
If Ford has received this much praise from veteran teammates, and moments where he showed growth in college and in the NFL, why is he just now getting the chance to show it?
When looking at the depth of the Dolphins, they have a lot of names listed as receivers, but the depth isn’t as deep as it seems on paper. For whatever reason however, Miami’s staff has placed him low in the pecking order.
Ford Can Play in Slot, Outside
It’s not often late-round draft selections make their NFL teams, but the Dolphins have kept Ford for a reason. Today, he has the chance to appear out of the slot and shine in his short-yardage strengths. Additionally, if WR Preston Williams is used there, Ford will pop outside opposite DeVante Parker as a mid-range and deep-ball threat.
In what will likely be a tight opening division game, Ford has the chance to not only show Miami what it has been missing out, but to solidify a starting role going forward with being a difference-maker.
Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. eastern today.