The inability to pick up tough short yardage has plagued the Miami Dolphins all season. Third-and-two or less is often a play ran from the shotgun when most teams put out a power formation like the I-formation with a fullback. The Dolphins don’t have a true fullback and have been using Michael Egnew as one, and this is one of the reasons the Dolphins’ power game and short yardage runs — and most other runs for that matter — are often unsuccessful.
Another huge contributing factor is the lack of physicality in the featured running backs. These running backs are not bruisers, and both fit more into the finesse, change of pace category. They are the gear that runs the league’s 21st ranked rushing attack. The Dolphins are in desperate need for a running back that falls forward for that extra yard.
Lamar Miller is the main running back. He has 636 yards on 160 carries, averages just under four yards a carry and has just two touchdowns. He has been a bit disappointing this year with this being the year he was supposed to burst out of Reggie Bush’s shadow and take the NFL by storm. While he has made a few nice runs, fans were expecting more. His lack of physicality shows, although he finished one run nicely against the Buffalo Bills by lowering his shoulder to get an extra few yards. More screen passes to get this quick University of Miami product the ball in space would greatly help Miami’s offense.
Daniel Thomas is the often criticized No. 2 running back of the Dolphins. He’s gained 406 yards on 107 carries with an average of 3.8 yards per carry and has four touchdowns as the main goal line back. This former second round pick has received the bust label from many, and while I do not believe he will ever be an every down back I don’t think the kid is as bad as everyone thinks. He gets to the second level well, but that’s when he needs to finish his runs. Thomas also had a 55-yard run that may have been the biggest play in the victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Keep in mind, anything under four yards per carry is considered bad for an NFL running back. But also keep in mind the offensive line they run behind is patchwork at its finest. Also, both running backs struggle in pass protection, and while Joe Philbin insists they have gotten better, it isn’t hard to go from terrible to just bad.
Neither of these running backs are awful, but neither of them are the answer. They may, however, may be a part of the solution, but regardless the Dolphins need to make getting a bigger, more physical type running back a priority this offseason as well as a few offensive linemen for him to run behind. This team isn’t too far away from being good; they just need a few key pieces.