Miami Dolphins: Brian Hartline Poised for First 1,000-Yard Season

Connor McKnightSenior Analyst IDecember 14, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 09: Brian Hartline #82 of the Miami Dolphins is tackled by Carlos Rogers #22 of the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on December 9, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The receiver question for the Miami Dolphins has been a bit of a problem since Week 1 this season.

A lack of a clear number one target served as the crux of the argument for critics of the squad with their dismal projections for Ryan Tannehill's first season.

Luckily for Tannehill, Brian Hartline stepped into the spotlight.

Although Hartline has only had three 100-yard plus games this year (111 against the Oakland Raiders in Week 2, 253 against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 4 and 107 against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 9), he has slowly picked up the slack for the Miami receiving corps. A large portion of Tannehill's pass attempts are generally headed his way.

Physically bringing in all of these targets has been particularly problematic sometimes for Hartline.

Especially as opposing defenses adjusted and attempted to take Hartline out of the game with heavy coverage and the presence of a shut-down corner, things have not been as easy for Hartline since his explosion against the Arizona Cardinals.

Just ask Hartline about his incredibly intimate date with Cortland Finnegan during Week 6 against the St. Louis Rams when it seemed as if Hartline was absolutely invisible out there on the field.

However, Hartline has established himself as the deep threat for Ryan Tannehill.

His one touchdown this year came from an 80-yard pass against the Cardinals in a breakout performance that helped establish him as a star receiver on the squad.

Now with 925 receiving yards and three games left to garner the final 75 yards, it appears that Hartline is primed to have his first 1,000-yard season. Already with over 300 yards more than he has ever put up in a season, he has established himself as the key target on this Dolphin squad.

Without Brandon Marshall, Hartline has stepped up into the void.

And now he has a starting place as Tannehill's favorite target.