Aug 17, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) hands off to running back Lamar Miller (26) during the first half against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Fixing The Miami Dolphins' Anemic Run Game


The Miami Dolphins are facing a rather interesting issue concerning the well-being of their offense’s “flow”. The team is among the worst teams in the league rushing the football averaging just under 70 yards per game. While that is quite concerning many would point to Pro Football Focus‘ 21st worst offensive line as the cause to such an anemic rushing attack.

The offensive line is a partial problem, but any good running back would be able to gain some yardage. Sure the offensive line does need some help. Maybe the team turns to a guy like G/T Nate Garner. Maybe the team makes a few calls – I don’t see this as a realistic option as T Joe Thomas is virtually untouchable and there really aren’t many interesting options out there.

 

I honestly don’t know if Miami can find any help to fix this offensive line outside of the organization this year.

 

Therefore, here are a few ways that Miami can fix this anemic rushing attack.

 

1. Bring back the fullback. We all know that the fullback is a dying breed around the NFL nowadays. As teams are looking to put as many athletic players/pass catchers on the field as they can, your Mike Alstotts and Tony Richardsons are no longer a desired asset to teams. That being said, what better way to help your running back gain an extra yard or two than to give him a lead blocker out of the back field.

 

Miami rolled the dice with fullback Tyler Clutts to open the season, but the former Houston Texan…well, he sucked and was later released.

 

With the team currently not carrying a traditional fullback, why not take a look at a better blocking style fullback?

NOV 25, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Seattle Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson (26) scores on a touchdown pass against the Miami Dolphins in the second half at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins defeated the Seahawks 24-21. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

 

Miami really blew it this offseason when the team failed to sign FB Vonta Leach, but the team could find a guy like former Seattle Seahawk Michael Robinson as an intriguing option to boost this team’s overall ability to move the football on the ground.

 

Robinson, a converted college quarterback, spent four years in San Francisco before moving on to Seattle where he helped RB Marshawn Lynch form one of the league’s best running games in all of football for a few seasons. The 6’1”, 240 pound fullback is a good blocker and has a great set of athleticism, which is something Miami’s coaching staff covets. Robinson would be a great addition to this team and would add some veteran leadership to this back field as well as some experience playing special teams.

 

Miami could easily dish out a one or two year deal at the veteran’s minimum for the former Penn State QB.

 

2. Make a trade with a team loaded at the running back position. Before you bash me here, just hear me out a bit. Miami is in desperate need of a short-yardage, bruiser. RB Daniel Thomas was supposed to be that guy this season. He has yet to do so averaging just 2.6 yards per carry with just 27 carries over 5 games.

 

First off, let’s cross San Francisco off the list immediately. While the team has a plethora of running backs with LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter, both are smaller scat-back types. We can also cross a team like Buffalo off the list as it’s unlikely Buffalo would be willing to unload RB Fred Jackson in division.

 

But how about a team like Carolina? Carolina has a great running back stable. With RB Jonathan Stewart returning from injury soon, Miami could look at Stewart as a potential savior. Sure, the former Oregon Duck has injury concerns, but Stewart is a career 4.7 yard per carry runner and is a capable blocker. Stewart has speed, running a 4.46 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, and the desired size at 5’10”, 235 pounds for an NFL running back.

 

Concerned about Stewart’s injuries? What about a guy like Mike Tolbert? Tolbert is a running back, fullback hybrid. It’s quite possible that when Stewart returns from the PUP list, Carolina could be looking to move Stewart into that role and take away from Tolbert’s touches.

 

That’s where Miami comes in. GM Jeff Ireland could easily offer up a 4th round selection for Tolbert and I think Carolina would be crazy not to take that. Carolina would get a valuable pick and relief of Tolber’s contract. Miami would take Tolbert’s contract but would also get a capable short-yardage back who can perform fullback duties and allow TE Charles Clay to be a full-time TE. Tolbert is also one of the best blocking back’s in all of football.

Sep 8, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Robert Turbin (22) runs in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks defeated the Panthers 12-7 at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

 

Tolbert’s size at 5’9” 245 pounds gives him the look of that old school fullback, but the guy also has deceptive speed and is capable of stepping in as a team’s top running back option such as he did for the San Diego Chargers during the 2010 season in which Tolbert gained 735 yards on 182 carries and scored 11 touchdowns.

 

Concerned with Tolbert’s age? How about we take a trip to Seattle and try to pry away one of their young running backs. Specifically RB Robert Turbin, who had quite a nice rookie season just one year ago. Seattle may not be ready to deal Turbin, but the team may be willing to for a  3rd or 4th  round pick after RB Christine Michael had a very impressive preseason.

 

Turbin is a 5’10” 222 pound bruiser who actually has some speed to go with that big frame running a 4.42 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Last season, Turbin gained 354 yards on 80 carries for the Seattle Seahawks in a back-up role for RB Marshawn Lynch.

 

I know what you’re saying and yes it seems a little premature to ship a high draft selection off to one of the best team’s in the league for a player who we haven’t really seen enough of. But Turbin is the real deal. The way this guy runs the football reminds me a bit of former Miami Dolphin, Ricky Williams, during his younger years.

 

Turbin would instantly step in and be this team’s top short-yardage option and would be a nice power compliment to RB Lamar Miller’s speed and elusiveness.

 

3. Give RB Mike Gillislee a chance to show what he has. Note: I really think that if the team decides to go this route that bringing in a fullback would help ten fold. That being said, can Gillislee really do any worse than RB Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas are doing? I didn’t think so.

 

Gillislee has power, speed, elusiveness and can also catch the ball quite well which is something that RB Lamar Miller struggles to do effectively.

 

The 5’11” 213 pound running back ran an impressive 4.48 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine shutting down concerns about his speed. In turn, a few months later the Miami Dolphins made the former Florida Gator the 164th selection in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Aug 4, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Mike Gillislee (35) runs the ball in the second quarter of the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame game against the Dallas Cowboys at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

 

Miller and Thomas are simply not getting the job done. Maybe it’s time to start over and start fresh. Will Gillislee make a difference? Can he survive behind a down-right bad run blocking offensive line? Who knows, but can he really do any worse than Miami’s current platoon?

 

Miami will be facing the Buffalo Bills this Sunday who will bring the 28th ranked run defense to town. It would be a great week to finally figure out the run game, Mike Sherman.

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Tags: Carolina Panthers Miami Dolphins Mike Gillislee Mike Tolbert Robert Turbin Seattle Seahawks

  • Doug Vaughan

    A trade for Maurice Jones Drew would be interesting, since Miami has picks plus Jacksonville ain’t going anywhere.

    • TylerMcMullen

      Interesting that you bring MJD up, Doug. While I personally wouldn’t mind exploring the idea of bringing the guy in, we also have to account for his age – 27, contract – Miami would likely have to dish out a new deal, and wear and tear he has had on his wheels or what others call “mileage” – 1,665 carries over 8 years. The guy used to be quite dynamic, but I’m not so sure that’s a direction this team should take unless Jacksonville wants cheap, and I mean cheap compensation for his services. Could be a possibility, though. Thanks for the read and the comment, Doug!

  • Bill Stowers

    What about peyton hillis? He was talented before cant he be good again?

    • TylerMcMullen

      Sound like a broken record here, lol, but interesting you bring Hillis up, Bill. Hillis just worked out for the New York Giants and is undergoing a physical which usually indicates a contract is in the works. Hillis would be an interesting option, but he was released from a Tampa Bay team in need of a back-up running back and lost out to a rookie, Mike James of the U. Unfortunately, I don’t think that one is a possibility any more! Thanks for the read and the comment, Bill!

  • Bill Stowers

    He should be really cheap too

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  • IMO_OMG

    Surprised you didn’t mention Ben Tate. I believe his contract is up at the end of the season so Houston might be willing to move him.

    • TylerMcMullen

      Ehh, that’s precisely why I didn’t mention Tate. I like the guy. Liked him a lot at Auburn. But I think he’s going to command a huge deal and that’s something Ireland cannot fit into his budget. It’d be too much to give up a high draft pick for a rental, you know what I mean?

  • henry

    I’ve thought the same thing about Turbin (reminding me of Ricky) but I doubt Seattle would deal him with the stretch run just ahead. I think they messed up when they let Jonas Gray go, I really liked his potential and he showed great strength in the preseason. In all reality Miami just NEEDS TO STICK WITH THE RUN A LOT MORE DURING GAMES. Being behind just after the 2nd half of a game starts is no reason to completelg abandon the run game. Miami (Miller) is averaging like 4.7 yds a carry so it’s obvious they just need to give it more of a chance to help their game go smoother.

    • TylerMcMullen

      Ehh, I liked Gray’s potential but he wasn’t ready to be a full-time player this season. Anywho, it would certainly help if the team 1. signed a fullback. 2. shuffled the line a bit – Watkins, Garner. They both have GOT to be able to at least match Clabo’s “success” thus far. 3. utilize play action. Miami used play action a ton last season. This year? Not so much. I’d like to see Sherman give Miller 20-25 carries this week against a week Buffalo run defense that is ranked 28th overall. Hopefully they figure something out. The team just released DT Marvin Austin so I’M HOPING it’s to make room on the 53 for a FB. Thanks for the read and the comment, Henry!