Now that this very important and thrilling offseason is winding down for the Miami Dolphins, we finally have a great idea of who and who won’t be playing for the Dolphins. I decided that I wanted to take a look at each of the positional groups of this team and give my opinion on them. Last week I took a look at the receivers, this week I will be doing a deep dive on the new and improved running back group. After coming off a season with maybe the worst run game in NFL history, in which Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was the leading rusher, the Dolphins added many new faces to the group. So for the last week or so I have been watching tape on this current group and here are my thoughts and observations on who I believe will be the four most impactful backs this year for the Dolphins.
On Day 3 of the NFL draft, the Dolphins acquired Matt Breida from the San Francisco 49ers, and I absolutely loved it. The Dolphins got a steal in Breida who has rare speed and it shows up on tape, he very well might be the fastest running back in the entire NFL. Breida is only 25 years old, in three seasons with the 49ers Breida has a total of nearly 2,000 yards on the ground and 6 Touchdowns. Breida was also extremely effective in the passing game in his time with the 49ers, with 63 catches, for 567 yards, and 4 touchdowns in those three seasons, which are outstanding receiving numbers for a running back. On tape what immediately jumps out is Breida’s speed, there were multiple occasions on tape where a play was dead in the water but somehow Breida made a positive play and got positive yardage. There are also plays that should have only gone for 5 yards but Breids does a couple of his elite jump cuts and turns on the afterburners and turns the play into a 70-yard touchdown. Traditionally, Chan Gailey’s offense uses more of a power running scheme and back, but I expect Breida to be the lead back in this room and for him to be used in the passing game a lot as well.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) May 11, 2020
Jordan Howard is the Thunder to Matt Breida’s lightning. In free agency, the Dolphins signed Jordan Howard to a very affordable 2 year 10 million dollar contract. At only 25 years old Howard may be one of the most underrated running backs in the NFL, last year with the Eagles he ran for 525 years and 6 touchdowns, while not being the lead back on that team. In his first 3 seasons in the NFL with the Bears Howard nearly ran for 1,000 yards in each of those seasons. The tape shows Howard is that big physical back that runs north and south, between the tackles and thrives in Chan Gaily’s system. Howards only struggles come from his lack of breakaway speed, but he is a perfect complement to the home run back Matt Breida. Even though I believe Breida will be the featured back, Howard will be a close second and will get a ton of playing time.
Patrick Laird was one of the few bright spots of last year’s run game for the Dolphins and if anyone is going to get playing time from last year’s group it’s him. Laird, also known as “the intern” had 168 yards rushing last year and a touchdown in his limited snaps. While I don’t see Laird getting a ton of carries this year I could see him making an impact on the passing game from the backfield. Laird actually had more receiving yards last year than rushing yards, he had 23 catches for 204 yards. The tape shows Laird to be a great receiving back with excellent hands and footwork. Laird can definitely make an impact especially on those 3 down passing situations.
The Dolphins drafted Navy Quarterback Malcom Perry in the 7th round of the draft and he is the wild card of this running back room. Even though he is wearing number 10, which would make him a receiver, the Dolphins are listing him as a running back so we will go with it. Perry was absolutely electric for the Navy last year. Perry ran for 2,017 yards and 21 touchdowns last year making him one of the top playmakers in college football. The tape shows an electrifying home run typer player with incredible speed and cutting ability. On the tape, Perrys looks like a smaller Lamar Jackson with his ability to make defenders miss. While Perry may see some time at the wide receiver position I believe his main contributions to the team will be with his legs in the backfield. I expect the Dolphins to develop him in a Taysom Hill-type role, with Perry also running a lot of wildcat as well.
All in all, I really like what the Dolphins did to redo the running back room this offseason. It’s clear that Brian Flores wants to run the ball and wasn’t happy with the team’s inability to do so last season. I loved how the Dolphins added different types of running backs too, as neither of them is like the other, which allows for a lot of flexibility and creative play calling. Not to mention a great run game would be incredibly helpful to new Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
- Alex Masferrer (twitter: alexmasferrer33)