DAVIE, Fla. -- Albert Wilson called for the "night out" celebration after his first Dolphins touchdown on Sunday. Everybody from offensive linemen to quarterback Ryan Tannehill unleashed his best club pose, with cameras flicking rapidly.
Wilson plans to get that photo, which is reminiscent of the iconic back cover of Eric B. and Rakim’s 1987 album "Paid in Full," framed on his wall. The celebration was orchestrated by Wilson with the thought that if he eats, everybody eats.
“I’m a newcomer. I just wanted to let my teammates know that it’s not about me,” Wilson said. “I plan on having a lot of success here, and I’m definitely a team-first type of guy, so I just wanted to get that out there and let them know it’s all about the team. I just hope we continue to play as a team and keep getting these wins.”
Modesty and selflessness are admirable, but the touchdown play was all Wilson. He delivered a subtle yet devastating stutter step to Jets cornerback Buster Skrine, who was on his heels after a 5-yard reception on a crossing route. The move, which Wilson ironically learned from watching Frank Gore’s film, jerked Skrine’s body, slowed him down and allowed Wilson to get the edge.
Wilson got separation and sped into the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown. Gase couldn’t stop smiling because he said it was a “really bad play versus what they called,” but Wilson’s yards-after-catch ability made it a touchdown.
Wilson has helped change the dynamic of a Dolphins offense that is wide-open without Jarvis Landry. Dolphins coach Adam Gase loves the variety and versatility of what Wilson, and a few of Miami’s other newcomers, allows him to do as a playcaller.
“I’ve been around a few guys over my time that were similar but I don’t think as dynamic as what he is,” Gase said. “He’s legitimately a guy that is almost built like a running back but plays like a wide receiver as far as running routes.”
Wilson has played receiver and running back, taken jet sweeps and played wildcat quarterback in his two games in Miami. He hasn’t thrown yet, but he was a high school quarterback, and he isn't opposed to adding that to his repertoire.
When Wilson was signed on a three-year, $24 million deal in March, some wondered how he would fit in an offense that already had two guys who shine in the slot in Danny Amendola and Kenny Stills. But Gase had a plan, and we are starting to see it.
“Coach is a genius,” Wilson said. “For him to find the matchups to get me a mismatch on the other side of the ball is great.”
Wilson is fast, but his best asset is his yards-after-catch ability. He was second in the NFL in yards after catch per reception last season, with 7.74.
He can play inside and outside receiver. He has already surpassed his rushing total and attempts from last season, and Gase hints that there is even more in the playbook for him.
“I love it. There’s no limit of all the things we can do,” Gase said. “You can go watch some really good stuff, and people will be like, ‘Oh, you can’t do that,’ but [the Dolphins] can do whatever because [Wilson] can do everything.”
Among the receivers, Stills is the leader and No. 1 guy. Amendola’s playoff accolades and toughness earn him plenty of respect. DeVante Parker is the biggest receiver and best red zone threat. Jakeem Grant is the speedster. But Wilson's versatility stands out, and his contributions likely won’t be fully quantified by how many receiving yards he has this season.
“We have so many weapons on both sides of the ball,” Wilson said. “It can be anybody’s week, and you have to keep that mindset.”
Maybe there will be more "Paid in Full" celebrations in store this season.