When the Miami Dolphins acquired running back Jeff Wilson Jr. at the trade deadline, they expected him to fill in as a backup to Raheem Mostert. After suffering a broken thumb against the New York Jets last week, Mostert’s status this Sunday is in doubt and Wilson may be Miami’s primary option against Buffalo.
Wilson’s postseason experience is limited, to say the least. In his five years in the league, he’s only appeared in three playoff games, with his only recorded statistic being a 20-yard reception against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. His first challenge as a lead ball carrier comes against a Bills defense that is near the top of the league. As a unit, the Buffalo defense ranks first in yards, second in scoring, fourth against the run, ninth against the pass, fifth in takeaways, seventh in rushing touchdowns, and 10th in passing touchdowns.
Opposing running backs do average 4.3 yards per carry against the Bills, though, which could be a recipe for success offensively for the Dolphins. Despite implementing one of the most exciting offenses this season, Miami head coach Mike McDaniel has gained a reputation for shying away from the running game in crucial spots. With the strong likelihood of starting third-string rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson due to starter Tua Tagovailoa’s status being undetermined, McDaniel may elect to lean on Wilson and the running game.
After playing four years at North Texas, Wilson was signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent in 2018. In less than five seasons as a backup with the 49ers, he rushed for 1733 yards and 15 touchdowns while averaging 4.4 yards per carry. When the Dolphins traded a 2023 fifth-round pick in exchange for Wilson, they continued to use him in the backup role he had in San Francisco. In eight games with the Dolphins, he’s carried the ball 84 times for 392 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 4.7 yards per carry.
Wilson was inactive for Miami’s Week 15 game at Buffalo, a 32-29 loss where Miami had success running the football. The Dolphins ran the ball 25 times for 188 yards and a touchdown while averaging 7.5 yards per carry. Mostert had his best game as a Dolphins, carrying the ball 17 times for 136 yards and eight yards per carry.