The Miami Dolphins seemed to be enjoying a smooth ride during their BYE week while AFC contenders ate each other alive, all seemed to be planning out perfectly for Miami. But of course, we can’t always have too many nice things. Over the weekend COVID decimated the Dolphins RB room, does this put them at a disadvantage vs the Jets?
Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, and Phillip Lindsay all tested positive for the virus, and would be a no-go against the New York Jets on Sunday. Unless they are able to test negative twice before the game, which should give everyone a huge breather because at least 1 of the 3 starting RBs should be able to return those negative tests before Sunday. But of course nothing is guaranteed, so how would this affect the Dolphins chances to win if they can’t come back?
Having all 3 RBs out would be a pretty big hit to the roster, but to be quite frank it’s not like this team relies on a running game for their offensive success. The Dolphins 4 main protagonists at the RB position are averaging a whooping 3.3 YPC rushing, And yes this includes Phillip Lindsay (3.5 YPC) who Dolphins fans seem to be so excited about.
So is there really much to worry about? The Dolphins worked out 4 RBs this week including Benny LeMay, Jordan Scarlett, Dexter Williams, and Lamar Miller who was a former Dolphins RB in 2015. I know what you’re thinking, who are these names and how could they possibly help us? As far as rushing goes there isn’t much to worry about because it doesn’t take elite talent to fill the shoes of the Dolphins average of 3.3 YPC rushing.
However, the part I’m worried about is another aspect of the game these RBs play a big role in, and in a way goes under the rug with Miami’s offense.
How does this affect the Miami Dolphins passing game?
Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed play a key role in the short passing game, the Dolphins know their rushing attack is limited so the RBs are used in a lot of RPOs, Screens, and check-downs to use those short yardage throws as an extension of the running game.
So much so that Gaskin is the third most targeted receiver (56) within the entire Dolphins offense, he only averages 4.8 YPC but remember a lot of this yardage is an extension of the running game. 4.8 yards per rush is golden in any offense if you want to look at it from that standpoint.
A lot of the play-calling and verbiage within those plays will be tough to learn for any new RBs implemented in this system. Gaskin and Ahmed are used in a lot of different ways within the pass game, and that will most likely not be an option unless one of the three starters manage to test negative before game-day.
Meaning that QB Tua Tagovailoa will have to bring an excellent game on Sunday in order to keep the winning streak alive. The New York Jets might look bad and defeated on paper but in the NFL your team can get punched in the mouth on any given Sunday, I expect the Dolphins to rely more on passing than they already do, and probably start using WRs to fill in for some of the short yardage throws in which Gaskin was involved.
Of course these fill ins will be limited since many of those routes started with Gaskin in the back field, but I’m certain that the offensive coordinators will get creative enough to figure something out. Play-calling has been really unorthodox this season even in this win streak, so expect the unexpected.
All in all the Dolphins are at a disadvantage but they should be able to adjust against a really poorly run New York Jets team. Running game for now is non existent to a team who’s running game barely existed in the first place.
I expect the team to come out more focused and hungry to shut down their opponent now that they are on their toes and facing adversity. The Dolphins have a tendency to overlook or play down to inferior opponents, so in a way I’m less worried about disappointment now that they know they have to bring their best in order to win.
For now it’s not time to panic since there is time for all 3 RBs to test negative, it’s better to watch things unfold and then reset our thoughts once there is a more clear picture on the horizon. I’ll be back on Friday to discuss predictions for game-day in detail.
But in the meantime:
What do you think of this COVID outbreak? How do you think it will affect the Dolphins chances to win on Sunday?
Also where is your playoff hope meter at? from 0-100% I say I’m at about 50% hopeful to make this playoff run.