Things just got tougher for the Dolphins run defense

Oct 16, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel (43) tackles
Oct 16, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel (43) tackles / Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

The hiring of defensive mind Vic Fangio was one of the bigger positives for the Miami Dolphins this offseason. This past season, only three teams in the league allowed fewer rushing yards per game (103.0). However, as someone once said ‘why drive when you can fly?”

The Dolphins were ranked 27th in the NFL in passing yards per game allowed, and also gave up 27 touchdown passes in 17 regular-season contests. Mike McDaniel’s club came up with only 14 takeaways, the fewest in a season in franchise history. All told, there’s certainly some work to be done on this unit in all aspects.

That strong statistical showing vs. the run in 2022 could be severely tested this season after what transpired on Monday. The New England Patriots signed former Dallas Cowboys workhorse Ezekiel Elliott to a one-year, $6 million deal. Moments later, the New York Jets inked four-time Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook (released by the Vikings earlier this year) to a one-year, $7 million contract that could reach $8.6 million if incentives are reached.

Cook and a healthy Breece Hall could become a potent 1-2 punch. The latter was off to a great start as a rookie a year ago. He played in only seven games last season before going down with a knee injury. On Tuesday, he was activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list.

Elliott joins Rhamondre Stevenson, who totaled 1,040 yards rushing and five scores on 210 carries. Keep in mind that the former Cowboys’ workhorse actually finished with more attempts (231) and rushing touchdowns (12) than Stevenson. The three-time Pro Bowler is more than capable of being a goal line option, as well as a player still capable of 15-20 carries in a game is needed.

What does this all mean for McDaniel’s squad? This past season, New England ranked 24th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (106.6), while the Jets were tied for 25th in the league (ironically, with Miami) with just 99.2 yards per outing on the ground. Those numbers figure to improve by season’s end, unless Fangio and company have something to say about it when given the chance.