Miami Dolphins’ Preview: Lamar Miller
By Andrew Huzar
Lamar Miller was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 2012 and became their starting running back in 2013. In 2013, Miller had a mediocre season as the Dolphins’ struggled as a whole. For the 2014 season the Dolphins added Knowshon Moreno to be their starting running back but after injuries derailed his season they once again put the ball in Miller’s hands to prove what he can do.
The beginning of the 2014 offseason saw the Dolphins trying to find a new feature running back for their system. Most people didn’t believe Miller could be a number one all around running back. After the Dolphins signed Moreno, it appeared that Miller’s time as a starter was at an end. In the first game of the season Moreno piled up 134 yards compared to Miller’s 59 and it seemed like Moreno was destined to have the starting spot all season. An injury in the second game, however, would give Miller the chance to prove he can be a starting running back.
After Moreno’s injuries, Miller went on to rake in 1,099 yards on 216 attempts for an average of 5.1 yards per carry and eight touchdowns. He also caught 38 passes for 275 yards and one touchdown (ESPN). Those stats alone look very good, especially when you consider he ran for 709 yards in 2013. However, when you look at his stats for individual games things become a little shaky.
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In 2014, Miller only eclipsed 100 yards in a game twice. Those two games were in week three (his first start of the season) against the Chiefs and then again in the season finale against the Jets. Against the Chiefs he ran for 108 yards and in the finale he ran for 178 yards. Sandwiched between those two games there were nine others where he rushed for less than 70 yards. That stat is a little frightening for someone that wants to be a feature running back. The small silver lining is that in five of those games his average yards per carry was more than four yards (ESPN).
2014 was an improved year for Miller but he still needs to keep getting better. It seems like he understands that because he has added about seven pounds to bring his weight up to 225 pounds (Daily Dolphin). It’s good to see he is trying everything he can to be a full-time running back for the Dolphins but he will have to do much more to earn the coaches’ trust. Joe Philbin and Co have been very cautious about giving Miller a lot of carries during games. The most carries he received in 2014 was 19 but most games were between 12 and 15 carries. Miller’s greatest strength has always been his speed and that will likely still be the case in 2015. His 97 yard touchdown run against the Jets last season is a testament to his burst and speed.
What Miller has in speed, though, he lacks in power. If his added weight doesn’t help him power through defenders then Miller will see another season with few carries. The Dolphins’ coaches are most likely coaching for their jobs this year which means everyone will have a short leash. The second Miller can’t run over the defense is when the coaches will put in someone who can.
The Dolphins’ have a tough schedule this season that features more than a few teams with above average defenses. If Miller still can’t be a power back then he will not be the Dolphins’ full-time running back for long. The Dolphins drafted Jay Ajayi this year so it looks like he is their back up plan should Miller falter at all. I don’t know if Ajayi has what it takes to be an NFL back so right now Miller is the number one guy, but I can’t say for how long.
I have always been a fan of Miller’s but with the offensive line struggles the Dolphins have been known for and now a tough schedule, I don’t see Miller breaking 1,000 yards again this season. I predict he will break into the 700 to 800 yard range but not much more than that. This coaching staff just doesn’t have the faith in him to give in the necessary carries.