Kalen Ballage needs to take a major leap in 2020.
After a decent rookie campaign in 2018 that saw Kalen Ballage average 5.3 yards-per-carry (YPC) in 36 attempts, Ballage saw his numbers ‘nose dive’ last year. In 2019, Ballage had over twice as many carries (74 to 36) but rushed for 56 fewer yards on his way to averaging a league-worst 1.8 YPC.
Fans of Ballage will try to blame his struggles on the Dolphins’ poor offensive line but all the other backs had to run behind the same line. Patrick Laird had the second-lowest YPC on the team and even his 2.7 YPC was nearly a full yard better than Ballage.
No matter how you look at it, no running back on the team is hurt more by the additions of Matt Breida and Jordan Howard this offseason. Looking beyond those two backs doesn’t paint a rosy picture for Ballage to carve out a role.
Patrick Laird appears to be a better runner and receiver. Myles Gaskin finished ahead of Ballage on last year’s depth chart. Malcolm Perry has more upside.
(It’s also worth noting that although Ballage and those three players were all drafted by general manager Chris Grier, Ballage is the only one of those players drafted during Flores’ coaching stint.)
Special teams may be Ballage’s best chance.
How about a role on special teams? Ballage logged the 16th most special teams snaps (26.5 percent) but, with 11 draft picks and several free agent acquisitions, he may get caught in a “number’s game”. In the end, though, his modest $750K salary may allow him one more season to prove to coach Brian Flores that he can thrive in a Dolphins uniform.