Introducing the Miami Dolphins optimum running back room

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Hey whatta ya know, I’m writing another article discussing what I think would be the ideal depth chart for another one of the Miami Dolphins position rooms. The one I wrote last week about the receiver’s room was a smashing success so let’s keep it rolling.

Today, I’ll be discussing what I think would be the best running back room the Miami Dolphins can send out there.

As I wrote last week, this is being written without the expertise of Mike McDaniel and the rest of the coaching staff. If you’re really looking to see who they like the best I suggest asking them or at least wait until training camp starts in less than a month.

I don’t think any unit on the team got overhauled more than the backfield for the Miami Dolphins. Last year, the running backs that were employed by the Dolphins and played were Myles Gaskin, Duke Johnson, Phillip Lindsay, Salvon Ahmed, Malcolm Brown, and Patrick Laird. Gerrid Doaks was also there but he was on the practice squad.

We lost Duke, Lindsay, Brown, and Laird. We’ve replaced them with guys from the bargain basket from the NFC West. Now we have Chase Edmunds, Sony Michel, and Raheem Mostert. ZaQuandre White is also an undrafted back out of South Carolina. That means there are seven running backs total when you include, Gaskin, Ahmed, and Doaks.

Oh, and don’t forget about fullback Alec Ingold. You have to think he’s going to make the team as well. He signed a two-year $7.5M contract this off-season. I really don’t think there is any way he doesn’t make the squad and isn’t out there for week one.

So how many running backs will be brought to each game? I’m going to guess three along with Ingold. I have no idea if that is true or not, I just think Mike McDaniel likes himself as many fresh legs as he can at the running back position.

Miami Dolphins

Myles Gaskin (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

That doesn’t mean that one of these guys can’t be the running back you see being the clear-cut #1 guy this season either. Elijah Mitchell led the 49ers in rushing on 207 carries. The next guy in total carries was at 79. I think we all like to talk about how it could be anybody running the ball in the Shannahan/McDaniel system but typically it’s one main guy and a bunch of other supplementary guys.

And make no mistake, even though the receiver room and tight ends are terrific, this offense will be dictated by how effective the running game is. Yes, much of that is on the development of the offensive line. Without them doing their jobs, this team isn’t going anywhere. But obviously, if the backs don’t do their jobs, this team isn’t going anywhere.

The wide-zone blocking scheme that we all expect to be seeing is one that takes everyone involved doing their part. As a two-time freshmen league championship coach, I was also an assistant on the varsity staff. We ran a zone-blocking scheme my last two years there. We basically had four running plays that only had two ways of blocking. There were two inside zone plays and two outside zone plays.

Amazingly, I was an offensive linemen coach. I know what you’re thinking, How does a 5’6 190Lb guy who never played high school football become a high school football coach for eight years, and why oh why was he ever slated to be an offensive line coach? I’m guessing I did something interesting in a past life or God/Universe has a very good sense of humor. Either way, I did good work.

Miami Dolphins

Mike McDaniel Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The point is, I sort of have a vague idea on how the wide-zone scheme is supposed to work Yes, I’m fully aware that the system the Miami Dolphins are going to run will be infinitely more complex every which way than a high school football team from the mountains of North East PA. But I think the concepts might be close to being the same, or I’m way off.

In the wide zone scheme, the offensive line is often taking flat steps and there’s a ton of reach blocking. There’s a ton of communication that needs to occur because some pairs of lineman will be combo-blocking to the next level. That’s a dance that takes a while to learn but when it does get learned and the lineman is on the same page, it’s poetry in motion.

The running backs, usually, have landmarks that they are running/aiming for when they get the ball. Also, the backs are typically reading a defensive lineman usually the end man on the line of scrimmage. If that end man on the line of scrimmage stays home and doesn’t run with the back, the back should take it around the corner. If that end man on the line of scrimmage widens out with the back then the back needs to see that, find the first sign of daylight, plant his outside foot, and get upfield.

Obviously, there’s more to it than that. That’s the scheme, as I know it, in a nutshell.

The running backs that the Miami Dolphins have, mostly, can do that with big-time speed. Some of them are built for this and that’s why they are here. Some are not built for this, were not brought in by McDaniel, and will not be here come week one. Read into that however you’d like.

This list is who I want to make the team and even the practice squad. We all know the running back room is at times an ever-revolving door of guys. We saw just last year, veteran-established guys being brought in the middle of the year to help because injuries were killing us. That can happen again. I hope it doesn’t but it’s certainly possible. Let’s get to the list.

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