The PhinPhanatic staff will recap each Miami Dolphins player as we head all await the start of NFL free agency. Today we highlight starting running back Jay Ajayi.
Of all the positions on the Miami Dolphins roster, arguably none was more important to the team’s success than the running back position. And among the entire NFL, no running back went from “outhouse” to “penthouse” quite like Jay Ajayi.
After a lackluster preseason (18 carries for 49 yards), Jay Ajayi got the news that he had lost his starting job to Arian Foster. To say he wasn’t pleased is putting it nicely. His attitude was apparently so bad that head coach Adam Gase left him home when they traveled to Seattle in Week 1.
An injury to Foster meant more carries for Ajayi the next few weeks but a bad offensive line, lack of commitment to the run, and a ‘committee’ approach at running back meant limited opportunities. In fact, through the first five weeks of the season, Ajayi had accumulated 117 yards on only 31 carries (a 3.77 yards/carry avg) but things were about to change in a major way.
The Tuesday before Miami’s week 6 match-up with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Adam Gase sent a message by releasing offensive guards Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner. Fans didn’t know it yet but that message was a renewed commitment to a physical, run-heavy offensive attack. That Sunday, took fans for a ride on the “J-Train” as he carried the ball 25 times for 204 yards and 2 TDs; carrying Miami to a 30-15 win.
The next week, Ajayi “railroaded” the Buffalo Bills for 214 yards on 28 carries and 1 TD as he became only the 4th RB to have back-to-back 200 yard rushing performances in NFL history.
After a 111 yard rushing performance against the Jets, his third straight game over 100 yards, the word was out on Ajayi and the teams began to stack the box against the Dolphins. Ajayi didn’t rush for 100 yards he continued to be a big part of Miami winning six games in a row and 8 out of 9 heading to Orchard Park.
Ajayi ‘stampedes’ over Buffalo again
After gashing Buffalo for over 200 yards in their first meeting, and Miami starting backup QB Matt Moore, it was no secret that the Dolphins were going to try and run Ajayi to a playoff berth in Week 16.
Buffalo keyed on Ajayi for most of the day but still couldn’t stop him from rushing for 206 yards on 32 carries. The key run was a 57 yard run where he broke several tackles and set up the game-winning field goal.
For the season, Ajayi ran 260 times for 1272 yards and 8 TDs; the third best rushing total in team history behind Ricky Williams 2002 (1853 yards) and 2003 (1372 yards).
With a healthy offensive line, 2017 looks promising for this former 5th round draft pick.