The Miami Dolphins claimed Phillip Lindsay last week off of waivers. Could he become the team’s starting running back for the rest of the season?
There have been a number of underwhelming positional units for the Miami Dolphins this season, but the running game might be the worst. Myles Gaskin has been the premiere running back in 2021, but has amassed just 482 yards through 12 games and is better utilized in the short passing game. The next two leading rushers on the team are Salvon Ahmed and Malcolm Brown, both of whom have less than 125 rushing yards on the year.
Much like the well-chronicled criticism of Tua Tagovailoa, the blame likely lies more in the offensive line. The Dolphins’ offense has struggled for a majority of the season, mostly due to the lack of running game and leaky pass protection that ranks the worst in the league. The big men up front have been the Achilles heel of the team this year, so much so that an offensive that was supposed to be explosive is instead one of dinks and dunks.
But Miami’s running game got a shot in the arm on Sunday in the Dolphins’ 33-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Phillip Lindsay, who was claimed off of waivers just this past week, saw limited snaps but was impressive both in both pass protection and with the ball in his hands.
He had 42 yards on 12 carries for a 3.5 YPC average, identical to Gaskin’s average on the year. But there was something about the way Lindsay ran and burst through what limited holes he had that we just haven’t seen from Gaskin or any of the other Dolphins running backs.
It wasn’t an overly impressive showing, but Lindsay may have shown the coaching staff enough to potentially make a push for Gaskin’s starting job. If the newcomer is able to help mask at least some of the deficiencies of the offensive line through his vision and running style, then Miami’s running game could become a respectable one over the season’s final five games.
Lindsay’s most impressive play may have come in pass protection, however. On what turned out to be the Dolphins’ longest play of the game, he picked up the blitzing edge rusher, saving Tagovailoa from what would be a sure sack and a third-and-long in a crucial point of the contest. The quarterback instead hit Jaylen Waddle for a 57-yard gain that set up a touchdown. It was all made possible by Lindsay, who was able to pick up the slack laid down by Liam Eichenberg and his missed block.
Evidently, Lindsay may be able to mask offensive line deficiencies in both the running and passing attacks. If this is the case, then there is little reason to believe why he shouldn’t be considered for the starting spot. It will be interesting to see if Brian Flores and company stick with Gaskin for another week before heading in to the bye and then re-evaluating, or if they believe that an immediate change is necessary.