Dolphins Lamar Miller must get back on track


Dolphins running back Lamar Miller was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft. In his first 3 years, Miller averaged a solid 4.6 yards per carry. Additionally, in 2014, the former Miami Hurricane rushed for over 1,000 yards and 8 TD’s. With a full offseason under his belt to rest his sore legs and improve his strength, Miller, much like the rest of the Dolphins, was projected for a great statistical season. However, thus far into 2015, Miller hasn’t scored a single touchdown, and is averaging a paltry 3.5 yards per carry. Oh, and it’s not even his fault.

Much of his struggles can be attributed to horrible offensive line play. What a surprise…not! Okay, okay, I know we can’t blame everything on the offensive line, so how much more leeway will new head coach Dan Campbell give the former 2012 fourth round draft pick? My guess, Miller will be given even more opportunity moving forward in 2015, and I’m here to tell you why.

Over the first four weeks, the Dolphins have rushed for an average of 69 yards per game, which is second worst in the NFL. Additionally, according to ESPN stats/info, Miller has only received 37 carries over that span. To put things into perspective, backup Buffalo Bills running back, Karlos Williams, has received 42 carries in his first four games. If a backup running back for one team is receiving more carries than the starter of another, one is safely able to assume there is either little-to-no confidence in the run game, or that team (the Dolphins) are consistently playing from behind. In this unfortunate case,  it may be a little bit of both.

While there may be a lack of confidence in the run game, I don’t believe Miller is to blame. This Campbell coached Dolphins team is looking to be aggressive, violent, and ultimately win at the point of attack. In order to do so, they must be able to run the ball effectively. Therefore, I expect Miller’s touches to go up from 9 carries per game to around 15 carries over the rest of the season. Furthermore, in the Dolphins lone win this season against the Redskins, Miller had 13 carries–the most in any game thus far into 2015.

Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller (26) at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Miller is a talented back, and the Dolphins need him to be successful if this offense is going to get off the ground. At this point in the season, unless the Dolphins o-line suddenly “sees the light” and is able to pass protect consistently, the Dolphins offense needs to understand their biggest weakness–defending against the blitz.

In other words, opposing defenses blitz Tannehill all day long…and it’s working! To beat blitzes, Tannehill must either have stellar pass protection, which he doesn’t, or play against the blitz by setting up screen passes. Why does this strategy work? Well, when defenses blitz, they leave pockets of open space behind them, leaving plenty of room to run for fast running backs like Lamar Miller. If offensive lineman are simply able to get out in front, Miller has the ability to jolt passed defenders for large chunks of yards.

The Dolphins offense is a mess, but with the help of Lamar Miller and a motivated offensive line, they still have a chance to put it all together this season. Tannehill must make better decisions when under duress, and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor needs to understand the weakness of his o-line. If Lazor is able to get Miller the ball more often, whether it be in the air or on the ground, this team still has the ability to put up points on a consistent basis. Let me know your thoughts on Lamar Miller and this article by commenting below. Fins up!

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