The Miami Dolphins have their coaching staff all filled and Mike McDaniel, I’m sure, is in a lab somewhere scheming up beautiful plays like he’s Coach Klein from the Waterboy and playing Madden 2003 trying to find the next past Dolphin’s legend to become a coach. One position I have to think that he’s looking to bolster is the running back position and I have a tremendous list of guys I think he and the Dolphins should be doing their due diligence on.
We’re at that point of the offseason where it’s been over a week since the Super Bowl meaning that there hasn’t been any football on for far too long. The combine is a week or so away and free agency is still about three weeks away. Seems like a real good time to start injecting the internet with mock drafts and free-agent wish lists. I’m not a mock draft guy so free-agent lists it is from me.
No matter what metric you search about the Miami Dolphin’s running game, you won’t find one that doesn’t have the Dolphin’s rushing attack ranked somewhere near the bottom of the league. You absolutely can pin some of that on the horrid offensive line that the Dolphins had trying to create holes for the backs. They were atrocious pretty much every time it was Sunday.
But the running backs that the Dolphins trotted out there were mostly average at best. Myles Gaskin solidified himself as not being an every-down back. He goes down way too easily. He’s best served as a change of pace guy or a one series out of every three type of player. Salvon Ahmed is the same kind of player with even less ability to run between the tackles. Interestingly, Mike McD does have some experience with Ahmed. Ahmed was in San Francisco before Miami added him in 2020. I guess that might mean something.
What will be the most interesting is how McDaniel and crew handle Duke Johnson and Phillip Lindsay. When Duke was given the opportunity to be the Dolphin’s main guy in the backfield he did pretty well. He ran hard, was tough to bring down, showed he still knows how to catch the ball, and had a nose for the end zone. His style of running is conducive for an outside zone style of running game that we all believe will be the foundation of the Dolphin’s offense. The back needs to read the edge, make a decision, make one cut, and get upfield. That’s what it’s all about. That philosophy fits Duke Johnson’s game.
Phillip Lindsay made a name for himself excelling in a similar style of offense in Denver. He still has quite a bit of tread left on the tires and I can see McDaniel enjoying his spirit on the team. Honestly, I can see McDaniel liking both Johnson and Lindsay.
The kind of running back I prefer is one who doesn’t hesitate in their decision-making, That bodes well for the one cut go type of rushing attack I expect to see McDaniel create in South Beach. The back needs to be able to catch the ball as I think all running backs in the NFL need to. That’s a skill that is sort of a prerequisite for the position nowadays, so I’m not worried about that because every running back is typically at least decent and being a receiver if need be. Obviously blocking is very important and I think all of the guys I mention here aren’t complete liabilities on that. Feel free to let me know if I’m way off on that.
Regardless if McDaniel decides to keep both Johnson and Lindsay, another running back needs to be brought in. I wouldn’t be surprised if the NFL draft is an area where McDaniel can find a middle rounds guy that he thinks he can mold into the exact kind of running back he values. Remember, last year he worked with guys like Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, Elijah Mitchell, JaMycal Hasty, and Trey Sermon who they did draft in the 3rd round that didn’t see much time and they still were one of the top rushing teams in the league.
The point is that it wouldn’t surprise me if McDaniel doesn’t opt to draft a running back until the later rounds like someone else who used to coach here. It also wouldn’t shock me if he’s not looking to shell out big money to a free agent. I get that but I still think he needs to research these four running backs because these guys can help and if the Dolphins are going to get the most out of Tua Tagovailoa, then a real running game is what they can’t live without.