The Miami Dolphins struggled to run the football during 2013, due in large part to the offensive scheme former offensive coordinator Mike Sherman put in place. Sherman’s play calling has been described as bland, boring and vanilla due to his inability to properly put together a game plan and follow it during a game. Sherman also struggled to use skilled players such as WR Mike Wallace and more notably his explosive young running back in Lamar Miller.
After a disappointing two-year stint in Miami, Sherman was relieved of his duties and Miami signed former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback coach Bill Lazor to become Sherman’s replacement. Lazor was brought in to do two things:
1. Add some explosive play calling to Miami’s playbook.
2. Use the skilled players much more creatively than Sherman did during his short tenure with the team.
Lazor has experience working with skilled players such as WR DeSean Jackson, RB LeSean McCoy, WR Riley Cooper and many others, but none have the explosive ability that Miller brings to the table.
Miller, a 5-foot-10, 224-pound back, is just 23 years old and has yet to tap his potential as a NFL-caliber running back. Miller has true break-away speed, while he also has just enough power to run inside between the tackles.
Last season, Miller ran for 709 yards on 177 carries (4.0 ypc) and a measly two touchdowns, but those numbers are sure to increase with Lazor now running the show in Miami.
During 2013, Miller received 15 carries or less in 12 of 16 games, which is simply unacceptable. Sherman allowed defensive coordinators to dictate his play calling and began to abandon the running game early and often.
In 2014, this will not be the case as Miami’s offensive line is an entirely new unit outside of returning Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, who will return to the team from hip surgery in October. Miami will now feature a much better and much more powerful offensive line with LT Branden Albert, LG Dallas Thomas, RG Shelley Smith, and first-round pick RT Ja’Wuan James.
Miller should expect to see the bulk of the carries this season as RB Daniel Thomas has been a bust up to this point in his career and RB Knowshon Moreno has shown up to camp out-of-shape and will miss time due to arthroscopic knee surgery, allowing Miller to gain experience in Lazor’s scheme and gain the upper hand over Moreno.
Miami’s offense could be quite potent this season as Miller’s legitimate 4.3 speed is enticing and should be used by Lazor in multiple ways this season to help open up the passing game for young QB Ryan Tannehill. Lazor will also have one of the NFL’s best deep threats in Wallace to go with a group of great “hands catchers” in WRs Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson, Rishard Matthews, and second-round pick Jarvis Landry. Lazor will also have fun using TE Charles Clay in multiple roles this season.
With a much better offensive line in front of Miller and a new offensive coordinator who will value Miller’s skill-set, the former Miami Hurricane could be looking at a breakout season quite similar to McCoy’s 2013 season in which he carried the football 314 times for 1,607 yards (5.1 ypc) and nine touchdowns along with 52 receptions for 539 yards and two touchdowns.
A statistical prediction for Miller in 2014 would be roughly 250 carries for 1,250 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground while also collecting 25 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Miller may be the next big thing at the running back position in the NFL.