It wasn’t just this afternoon’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals where the Miami Dolphins running game went curiously missing against the 22nd ranked rushing defense in the NFL, regardless of a rushing touchdown early in the fourth quarter and barely surpassing the 100-yard rushing mark. It disappeared after week 2 against the Minnesota Vikings when the Fins rushed for a mediocre 120 yards for no touchdowns. After today, Miami has only scored twice on the ground. Their highest rushing game was against the Green Bay Packers for 150 yards; still far from 1000-yard season expectations Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown both predicted. At this rate, they’ll see 1000 yards in 2013. Could this be because the Wild Cat offense has been sifted out for lack of production or is it because Williams and Brown are not producing? If you’re wondering where the Miami Dolphins running game has gone, then you are not alone.
Before today’s Cincinnati game, Williams and Brown have combined for roughly 600 yards after week 7: that’s 86 yards per game. Lousaka Polite, who has 29-yards respectively, has seen his carries increase however only becoming a minimal factor primarily running his trademarked third and fourth and 1 conversions this season. An occasional role-played, in-and-around to Brian Hartline, Anthony Fasano and Brandon Marshall has kept Miami’s average yard-per-carry afloat to a lackluster 3.8 YPC and a disappointing 642 yards total for the year. As a package, the Dolphins rushing is average and ranked 16th overall in the NFL. The same cannot be said for Williams and Brown.
Brown has admitted that his contract extension, or lack there of, has been on his mind this season. I wouldn’t expect the Dolphins to resign him while averaging only 52 yards-per-game. Williams, who has outperformed Brown thus far this season, is in a much different situation, now 33 years old, foresees 2012 as his last year in the NFL. What they’re missing particularly are those explosive plays, those big 100-plus yard games. Neither has happened for either player this season.
For weeks, Dan Henning’s play calling has been questionable. Expectations of more passing plays now that Chad Henne is emerging into the role of a starting quarterback along with the arrival of an explosive top 5 receiver in Marshall are in the minds of Miami fans. The passing play calls have been more frequent as of late and the rushing plays have been consistently called too. Henning continues to rush at least once per series but averages 2 running plays for series. He would probably agree to call more running plays if Williams and Brown were both performing up to par of years past. With a stellar offensive line, one of the best in the NFL this season, it’s hard to find who the finger should be pointed at in Miami at anyone other than Williams and Brown. As frustration builds because of a missing running game, pressure builds on Williams and Brown to step it back up again.