Let’s flashback to the last time the Miami Dolphins made the playoffs. In 2008, the Dolphins completed a miraculous turnaround from 1-15 to 11-5 and captured the AFC East crown under the NFL’s most accurate quarterback Chad Pennington and under HC Tony Sparano. The Dolphins were mainly known that year for their unleashing of the Wildcat, made famous by the electric duo of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. However, the Dolphins did not make the playoffs riding the Wildcat alone. They won the AFC East by eliminating turnovers and playing efficiently. Who contributed greatly to this efficiency and consistency? Lousaka Polite, or as I used to call him “The First Down Machine.”
Polite played from 2008-2011 for the ‘Phins, and as a fullback, his numbers never jumped off the charts. He served primarily as a blocker for Ronnie and Ricky, and would occasionally catch a pass from Pennington in the flats. However, there is one statistical category that sums up just how valuable Lousake Polite really was. The category? His efficiency on short yardage situations, especially 3rd down and one and 4th down and one. I will let the numbers do the talking. Here are Polite’s numbers during his three year stint as a Miami Dolphin.
2008: 21 rushes, 83 yards. 11 receptions, 51 yards. Polite also gained 11 first downs on 12 attempts on 3rd or 4th and one.
2009: 37 rushes, 123 yards. Polite gained 16 first downs on 16 attempts on 3rd or 4th and one.
2010: 26 rushes, 62 yards, 1 TD. 12 receptions, 61 yards. Polite gained 14 first downs on 15 attempts on 3rd or 4th and one.
During three seasons with the Dolphins, Polite gained 41 first downs on 43 attempts on 3rd or 4th and one. That kind of consistency and production can’t be replaced, and I was upset when the Dolphins released Polite in 2011.
How many times this season have the Dolphins failed to complete a 3rd or 4th and short? Take last Sunday’s game against the New York Jets for example. Miami had 3rd and 4th and short on the Jets’ goal line and failed to punch it in. Mike Sherman’s play selection consisted of a power run and a fade route, both of which were executed poorly and failed to put up six points. These two plays reiterated how much I miss Lousaka Polite. I think fans took it for granted how automatic he was in short yardage situations, sitatutions that could determine the outcome of a close game. Granted, Polite may have experienced such success due to a better Miami O-Line, but I can remember multiple occasions where Lousake Polite lowered his head and picked up the first down on his own. Opposing teams knew the play before it happened, yet they still could never stop the powerful fullback from doing what he did best and picking up crucial first downs.
Other than Daniel Thomas and Charles Clay, Miami does not really have an option for these 3rd/4th and short sitautions. With Thomas out for the season, I think it is up to Charles Clay to fill the role as power runner, as we have seen before this season. When the ‘Fins find themselves in these short yardage situations, I would like to see them toughen up and run the ball down opposing defenses’ throats. I would like to see Charles Clay take a handoff and channel his inner Lousake Polite. These short yardage situations may determine the outcome of a game, and the outcome of one game at this point in the playoff race could determine the outcome of the season.