Miami Dolphins week is Jarvis Landry week. At least that’s how synonymous it’s seemed.
Not often has Bill Belichick left the AFC East counterpart’s slot receiver unmentioned. And that doesn’t figure to change in advance of Sunday’s 1 p.m. ET kickoff at Gillette Stadium.
Nor should it: Landry has caught 39 passes on 56 targets for 453 yards and a touchdown versus the New England Patriots since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2014. He’s amassed 150 yards on five kick returns and 108 yards on 11 punt returns over that span against them as well.
It began modestly in the 2014 opener, a 33-20 Dolphins win over the Patriots at the then-named Sun Life Stadium, when Landry garnered just one target, averaged 28 yards per kickoff and eight yards per punt. But that stands as only time in which Landry has gone catchless versus New England. And the likes of Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson stand in distant memory now.
The meetings since have come with a steady uptick in volume for the LSU product.
LANDRY’S RECEIVING LOG VS. NEW ENGLAND
- Sept. 7, 2014: 0-for-1
- Dec. 14, 2014: 8-for-11, 99 yards
- Oct. 29, 2015: 6-for-8, 71 yards
- Jan. 1, 2016: 6-for-11, 72 yards
- Sept. 18, 2016: 10-for-13, 135 yards
- Jan. 1, 2017: 9-for-12, 76 yards, touchdown
Landry hasn’t been held below six receptions in any of the Dolphins’ last five matchups with the Patriots. He hasn’t finished with under eight pass attempts drawn or 71 yards amassed, either.
The praise he’s earned from New England’s head coach over the years has been well-earned.
“He's their leading receiver in terms of targets,” Belichick said of the 5-foot-11, 208-pound Landry in December 2014, via Patriots.com. “Done a good job for them in the return game. Tough kid, runs hard, breaks tackles, good playing strength. He's done a good job. He's good.”
Belichick continued in a December 2015 press conference: “I'd say Landry is – I don't even know how you would define that other than that he gets the ball a lot. He's in the backfield, he's in the slot, more in the slot than outside, but he'll be outside. They've used him in different motion packages. They're creative in the ways they get him the ball so you can't just say, ‘This is where he's going to be,’ because you don't know where he's going to be. But I would say you know he's going to get the ball 10 to 15, 20 times a game – targeted somewhere in that neighborhood. You've got to know where he is, that's for sure.”
And in his “Belichick Breakdown” preview of the Dolphins last September, Belichick told Scott Zolak: “Another dynamic player. Great balance, toughness, run-after-catch ability. He does an excellent job of finding open spots. Of course [Ryan] Tannehill looks for him as a very dependable guy.”
Of course, Miami’s quarterbacks have carousel-ed, going from Matt Moore to Tannehill to Jay Cutler and back to Moore. So have the Miami’s coaches, going from Joe Philbin to Dan Campbell to Adam Gase. But Landry has remained the engine to the car. Earlier this month, the 24-year-old logged his 344th reception in just his 56th career game, good for the most in NFL history through a player’s first four seasons.
Landry’s got 355 through 58 now. He sits with a third-ranked 67 this campaign alone for 567 yards, with six scores in Miami’s last seven contests. And despite contributions from fellow wideouts DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills, he sits third in the league in targets and ninth in first downs among pass-catchers.
None of those facets will go under-emphasized as an 8-2 Patriots team that’s won six in a row prepares for a 4-6 Dolphins team that’s lost four in a row.
As Belichick said, “You’ve got to know where he is.”
Then you’ve got to keep No. 14 from getting more than he’s got.