We’re heading into week 10 of the 2019 NFL campaign and the Indianapolis Colts are halfway through the season, sitting at 5-3. A lot of us didn’t know what to expect when Andrew Luck retired, but the outcome so far has been pretty encouraging.
Sure, the team is coming off a disappointing loss against the Steelers, but the boys in blue are still in the playoff hunt and are gearing up to take on the 1-win Miami Dolphins.
There aren’t a lot of bright spots on this Miami team, so it wasn’t the easiest task to pick an opponent to spotlight.
However, with Preston Williams, a promising young wide receiver, going down for the season, it made sense to take a look at Mike Gesicki – the one who will most likely be filling his shoes.
Anyway, without further ado, let’s take a look at how he’s performed in his last 3 games.
Looked at all targets against the Jets, Steelers and Bills
Athleticism shows up on tape
A lot of people have been worried that Gesicki is a workout warrior whose ridiculous athleticism doesn’t translate to the field.
I’m not sure if his combine (his web on mockdraftable is pretty close to a full circle) is completely indicative of his fluidity in pads, but he’s still pretty damn athletic for the tight end position.
On this play, Gesicki is split wide right, matched up 1-on-1 with the linebacker. This is a pure mano-a-mano situation, as the safety doesn’t help to his side and all Gesicki has to do is simply outrun his opponent – which is pretty easy for him.
He attacks the space between him and the defender, gives a stutter step towards the inside as he reaches the linebacker’s personal space and turns on the jets to completely leave James Burgess in his dust.
This was a completely uneven matchup that didn’t lead to a touchdown only because the ball was a tad underthrown.
The Jets simply could not handle the athleticism of Gesicki and the stat sheet showed that, as it lead to his 6 catch, 95 yard day.
So, naturally, here’s another example of Gesicki showing off his change-of-direction ability and swiftness on a deep out route against the same defense.
Gesicki is lined up on the right side as a tight-end in a 2-point stance (he almost exclusively lines up in a 2-point stance).
Gesicki comes out hot, gives the defender a fake double-move, as if he’s going to try and beat him over the top, and then digs his foot into the ground and sprints towards the boundary.
He showcases his superiority in a foot race here, but also (unfortunately for him) displays his slender frame, resulting in an easy take-down for the defense, albeit after a large chunk of yardage was already accrued.
One last example from the Jets game here.
Gesicki is lined up in-line to the right side in a 2-point stance.
He motions left and then back to the right side as a slot receiver.
He plants his foot in the grass when the ball is snapped and launches himself forward at full speed.
With the defender’s hips turned towards the inside, Gesicki reaches his target and then maneuvers himself almost seamlessly towards the outside.
He then releases his burners, once again, and puts the scrambling defender on the floor.
He finishes the play by doing a prodigious job of flashing his hands and bringing the ball in, rather than allowing it to hit his chest – another aspect of receiving that Gesicki is rather methodical at.
I won’t bore you to death with his ability to shift directions and showcase speed at his highest gear, but I want to display one more play before we move to the next topic.
You may or may not recall, but Tremaine Edmunds entered the league a few years back and is considered one of the most athletic young linebackers in the NFL.
Edmunds is covering Gesicki on this play and gets behind a bit – which ultimately manifests as a holding penalty.
Gesicki is number 88 and is lined up as the tight end on the right side, again, in a 2-point stance.
He’s going to run a post route here and before reaching his cut, gives Edmunds two fake-out steps, one to the inside and one to the outside.
Once his foot hits that outside step, he explodes back in and gives Edmunds a swim move.
Edmunds does a nice job of recovering but is aided by a hold, which is flagged.
This wasn’t a completed pass but Gesicki puts his athletic prowess on display despite that.
Finds the soft spot in zone
Gesicki is clearly doing an impressive job of learning how to find the soft spots in zone coverage and how to adjust his speeds to find himself in the proper pockets.
On this play, Gesicki is lined up to Fitzpatrick’s left side, as a tight end in a 2-point stance.
He runs up the seam, gets behind the underneath defender, sees the over the top defender, slows his route and finds himself right where the open patch of grass exists between 3 Jets’ players.
He whips his head around, flashes his hands and does a great job of making sure his body is shielding any oncoming tacklers at the same time.
Again, he goes down pretty easily, as running after the catch is not one of his strong suits, but his intelligence results in a sizable play anyways.
Here, Gesicki is originally lined up far right in a stack formation. He motions inside to the slot position on the right side.
He does a nifty job of impeding the trajectory of the oncoming blitzer, then continues his route from there. He runs to daylight between the 2 underneath defenders and the 3rd oncoming tackler, and gets his hands out to make a nice catch while simultaneously shielding himself from a blow using his body (again).
So, pretty much a replication of the last play.
Body control and hands-catching
Gesicki is not just a slim-trim with the ability to run like a gazelle but also showcases the aptitude to catch the ball at a high level.
I have shown some of his prowess in using his hands, rather than his body, to finish catches, so let’s take a look at his ability to adjust to the ball in the air, while concurrently continuing to show off his mitts.
Again, Gesicki is lined up on the left side, as a tight end in a 2-point stance.
He runs a wheel route up the seam with a linebacker right on his tail – which causes Fitzpatrick to throw it where only Gesicki can get it.
The ball finds Gesicki near his feet, towards his back shoulder, so he essentially rolls over onto his butt, which allows him to make an incredible catch and give his team a first down on 3rd and 9.
This next play was called back for holding, but that doesn’t take away from the spectacle Gesicki exhibits.
This time, Gesicki is lined up in a 3-point stance as the tight end on the right side of the formation.
Again, Gesicki finds the weak spot in the zone and allows himself to be open in between several defenders.
With a multitude of Bills’ players barreling down on him, the ball is thrown over his head.
He leaps into the air, while turning towards his back shoulder, stretches out his arms and brings it in all while being torpedoed by the over the top defensive back.
It seriously can’t be understated how insane this catch is.
Now, I’ll make this pretty brief – Gesicki is far from a scary run blocker and the Miami Dolphins know that to be true.
As a result, he isn’t used in the run game much – acting as a decoy on the rare occasion he is utilized.
Even still, despite that fact, there are a few examples of him getting ‘involved’ and they will be presented below.
This next video is one of his only decent reps in the run game.
Gesicki is lined up in a 2-point stance to the right side of the formation as a tight end.
He simply starts off as a decoy, running a route down the field, but he finds himself in front of a defender towards the latter part of the play.
On this occasion, he actually manages to get his hands inside the defender’s shoulders (Burgess really did not have a good day against the Dolphins) and maneuver him towards the left side, allowing Mark Walton a cut-back lane.
I won’t say much about these next few plays – except that he simply is never going to be an all-around tight end and was never really expected to be.
Gesicki is number 88, just look out for him on these next 2 reps
Again, he is a rather inept blocker, but we knew that about him coming out of college, so no surprises there.
Gesicki is NOT a bust, as much as certain people on social media might tell you that he is. The box score is far from a telltale sign of a player’s worth and this is a relatively significant case of that.
Gesicki is an athletic tight end that might give the Colts zone-heavy scheme some trouble, even with the newfound emphasis on speedy linebackers in Indianapolis.
I would watch out for Bobby Okereke to be more involved this game, and potentially an activated Quincy Wilson if he can prove his worth in practice – or perhaps Marvell Tell will be able to play this role with Pierre Desir potentially returning.
Irrespective of those details, Gesicki is an uber-athlete that will get by slower defenders and is able to make acrobatic grabs over smaller ones.
He’s not the most polished route runner yet but has still shown capability and growth in that department – while also displaying a keen sense of finding the open space against a zone defense.
He’s clearly not much of a blocker and I don’t consider him a particularly threatening runner, either.
Still, he’s a player I’d watch out for on snaps where the Dolphins really need a big play or a first down, as he seems to be a dependable receiver in those situations for them.
Overall, he’s not quite a finished product and still has a ways to go, but still, I was much more impressed with Gesicki than I thought I would be.
He has the makings to become a fairly productive player in a better situation, or even in the second half of 2019 — let’s just hope he doesn’t continue his upward trajectory this Sunday.