Myles Gaskin: Effective and Consistent
Running back Myles Gaskin has emerged as a regular this season and has been a key contributor to the Dolphins’ offense thus far. Despite a competitive running back room with new free agents Matt Brieda and Jordan Howard, Gaskin has been the primary back for this team, and he has been very successful.
He is versatile, tough, and smart which are all qualities that Coach Flores wants in his players. The seventh-round pick out of Washington has provided the Dolphins a much-needed run game following a season where quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick led the team in rushing. The Dolphins run game is still nowhere near the top in the league, but its leaps and bound better than last year and it has had a real impact on games this season. This can be credited to a young and improved offensive line and a talented running back in Gaskin.
Through six games, Gaskin has 340 rushing yards on 82 attempts which is an average of 4.1 YPA, and he has 182 receiving yards with 27 receptions which is an average of 6.7 YPR. These numbers are good but not great, but the important thing is that there is a serious improvement in the Dolphins run game, and it is only going to get better as Gaskin and the offensive line develop.
It is also worth noting that Gaskin leads all skill players on the team in first downs with 23, and he has yet to fumble the football. This means Gaskin converts when the team needs it and does not turn over the ball. These are fundamental to having consistent and productive drives. This provides a foundation that this offense can depend on when needed. Gaskin’s success at the professional level honestly should not be a surprise if you look at what he did in college. During his years at Washington, Gaskin rushed for over 1,200 yards every season which has only been done one other time in NCAA-FBS history and had a career average of 5.6 YPC. He holds almost every Husky rushing record as well which is no surprise.
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The elements of Gaskin’s game that really stand out are his patience, timing, and vision. Gaskin handles contact really well too, as whenever he gets hit or wrapped up, he always accelerates his feet and takes care of the football. The former seventh-rounder really tries to get every possible yard with every opportunity he gets. He uses these skills in unison to hit holes at the perfect time, take advantage of blockers, and get to the next level of the defense. This is where the offensive line needs to be applauded because they absolutely create the best environment for Gaskin to use his skill set. Often you will see him run one way, break down behind an offensive lineman, and then cut back as soon as the hole opens up on the other side. Once Gaskin sees the hole he secures the ball and accelerates to the second level of the defense. When the offensive line is playing well, Gaskin really utilizes this cutback and is very productive.
This is why you see Gaskin do so well in the screen game because it’s the same thing. Gaskin floats out for the screen, waits for his blockers to get in position, and then uses his vision to get up the field, and the successes in the screen game are just a small portion of what he can do as a receiver. Gaskin’s versatility lies in his ability to be just as successful in the passing game, and it is clear that the Dolphins have confidence in him as a receiver because there have been times where he lines up out wide and in the slot. He also currently leads the league with a 92% catch rate with 27 receptions on 29 targets. Obviously, these passes are not the most difficult to receive, but you do not have that high of a percentage without having excellent fundamentals and a sound understanding of the offense.
Although he has a lot of strengths and has been worthy of the starting role, he still has areas of his game that can be worked on. Two things we have not seen from Gaskin this season are huge gains and tackle-breaking ability. He does handle contact really well and is always movie forward, but Gaskin has difficulty getting defenders off of him once they make contact. This prevents Gaskin from reaching the next level of the defense where he can utilize the open space and his vision. This is a huge reason why Gaskin has not had many big gains because it is hard to get away from that second level of the defense untouched especially because NFL linebackers have polished tackling ability. Currently, Gaskin has one play with a 20 yard plus gain which includes his stats in the passing game. However, this is not a huge issue and big plays will happen more as Gaskin and this offensive line develop. Keep in mind that Gaskin is only in his second year and we have three rookie offensive lineman. This coaching staff has shown they can cultivate talent and develop players, as we see improvements on this team constantly from all positions. Gaskin has shown so much improvement in one year and with his pace of development, it would not be a surprise if this is the Dolphins’ running back for the next few years.