We started an “All – Time Greatest Dolphins” team poll the other day and it was pretty much a given that Earl Morrall who led Miami through most of the regular season and post-season in 1972 came out on top as the teams greatest back-up QB. Today, we will look at the running backs of the Dolphins history and who might be the top guys of all time at that position as we continue to develop our “Greatest Dolphins” roster. You can select three.
While we are on the subject of running backs, it’s an opportune time to look at one of the rostered backs on the current Dolphins team who is actually under contract. Lex Hilliard has spent 2 years with the Dolphins and while he has been active for most games, all 16 last year, he has only carried the ball a handful of times. Last season he didn’t carry the ball but caught one pass. His “career” stats are 23 rushes for 89 yards, 21 receptions for 161 yards, and 1 touchdown.
Earlier this week Hilliard spoke with the Sun-Sentinel’s Omar Kelly and said that he believes this is his time to compete for the starting job at tailback.
The question is do the Dolphins feel the same way?
A lot of speculation has been made as to what the Dolphins might do once free agency starts. Many believe that they will, if the opportunity presents itself, take a long hard look at adding Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams to compliment incoming rookie Daniel Thomas. The Dolphins of course say nothing publicly so it’s all nothing more than public perception based on what a local journalist may have perceived from someone within the organization. So in other words, it means nothing.
However, if the Dolphins do in fact have interest in another running back VIA the free agent market, then it is safe to say Lex Hilliard is not in the long term plans of the team. In fact, if the team does sign a high-profile FA this year, Hilliards days in Miami could be numbered as opposed to his line of thinking that he will compete for a starting job.
Another measure of the coaches opinion regarding Hilliard could be the fact that in the middle of miserable season last year offensively, Hilliard didn’t touch the ball in the ground game. Perhaps maybe that was a lack of faith or the styling of then Offensive Coordinator Dan Henning or maybe it was simply that Hilliard failed to show enough in practices to warrant the game experience.
Either way, Hilliard held a roster spot that could have been used elsewhere. This year, Brian Daboll is running the show in Miami and last year he made Peyton Hillis a superstar in a stagnant Cleveland Browns offense. Hilliard has a similar style to that of Hillis. Could Daboll find the right mix of Daniel Thomas and a fresh Hilliard to become his one-two punch in Miami?
With Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams free agents as well as 3rd string runner Patrick Cobbs, the Phins in reality will keep Hilliard regardless of whether they bring in a profile runner or not. Depth is always a concern at the running back position and one injury could thrust a third or fourth string edge runner into the spotlight. Hilliard says he has been waiting for his chance and he fully expects to take advantage of the inexperience of the rookie Thomas to fight for that starting role.
One thing is for sure, Hilliard is going to be someone to keep an eye on this training camp as will the rest of the runners that end up on the roster.