With the addition of Sony Michel to the Dolphins backfield, the Dolphins’ have totally revamped their rushing attack heading into 2022.
While many fans want to blame the offensive line for every problem Miami had on offense, you cannot ignore that Miami’s running backs did little to help the offensive line. It works both ways.
Ricky Williams never had the best offensive line in Miami, but he broke tackles and disguised some of their flaws. Miami didn’t have a running back in recent years who could hide any of the offensive lines’ shortcomings.
The previous few seasons, the Dolphins’ running game was anemic, with the likes of Malcolm Brown, Myles Gaskin, Jordan Howard, and Salvon Ahmed running the ball primarily. Heck, in 2019, the Dolphins’ leading rusher was Ryan Fitzpatrick. That should tell you all you need to know.
The Dolphins went into this offseason, and many fans would have been content if the team re-signed Philip Lindsay and Duke Johnson, but the Dolphins front office thought bigger. Instead, they went out and, in my opinion, added three quality backs (along with a fullback) to give the Dolphins a legitimate NFL rushing attack.
Let me be clear before we go forward; nobody is saying the Dolphins have a long-term answer at the running back position. They don’t!
They have three players on one-year deals who, for 2022 and only 2022, give the Dolphins their best running back room going into a season since the early 2000s.
Nobody will mistake any of these guys as Ricky Williams or even Ronnie Brown, but together as a unit, it has speed, depth, and every skill set you want in a room.
Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed
To fix a problem, you must identify the problem. The problem was Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed, and they are not part of the solution.
In my opinion, these two players, bearing something unforeseen, will not be on this Dolphins roster in 2022. I know some fans think Gaskin has trade value; he doesn’t.
Both of these players have had two years to make an impression and impact this organization and front office. They failed.
While the coaching staff is different, the tape doesn’t lie. And these two players haven’t put enough quality play on tape to justify them sticking around. That’s why you have the Dolphins signing Sony Michel in early May.
Aside from neither player really being a scheme fit for the offense Mike McDaniel will implement, Gaskin was a terrible blocker last season, and both guys generate little to no yards after contact.
It was tie to move on.
WHY THESE THREE RUNNING BACKS
There isn’t a simple answer to why Miami is going with these three guys but let’s get some facts out of the way.
First, Edmonds and Mostert are fast. I mean really fast!
The Dolphins haven’t had a home-run threat type running back in many years, and these guys will keep a defense honest, knowing if they miss a tackle, they can score from any place on the field.
Second, these guys are cheap. If you don’t think money plays a factor in which players are signed and which players aren’t, then you are lying to yourself. Mostert is on a 1-year deal, Michel is on a 1-year contract, and Edmonds signed a 2-year deal but has virtually no guaranteed money in 2023. So, all three guys are on 1-year deals in reality.
Why is this important, you ask? Because if any of the three, or all of the three, underachieve, the Dolphins can easily move on and have no dead money on the salary cap. There are no long-term commitments here.
Third and maybe the most important factor, these guys are proven NFL running backs.
Sony Michel has two Super Bowl rings and has played in big games in his young NFL career. He is known for his outstanding pass blocking, and he will not let Tua get hit as he knows which Blitzer to pick up.
Raheem Mostert, when healthy, has blazing fast speed and has been productive for the 49ers. In 2019 he had ten total touchdowns (8 rushing, 2 receiving) and has a career YPC of over 5.0 yards. In fact, it’s 5.7 yards and closer to 6 YPC. That is unheard of in the NFL for someone with the number of carries he has had. Granted, the injuries are an issue as he has missed many games. But, on the flip side, he is familiar with Mike McDaniel and the offense he runs as he did spend time with him in San Francisco.
Chase Edmonds, to me, is the key to this running back room. He has a career 4.7 YPC average, and his workload has only gone up year after year since entering the NFL. He will probably get the most work this season and open as the Dolphins’ starting running back.
With these three running backs, there is no learning curve, there is no on-the-job training, and there are no rookie mistakes we must live through. They have been around the block and know what it takes to get the job done.
All have been in a time-share/running back by committee situation before and will have no problem being part of a group as well.
Check out @cheetah talk with @KevinHart4real on the latest episode of COLD AS BALLS. https://t.co/Q1NsD8Fu8U
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) May 10, 2022
OH YEAH, WE HAVE A FULLBACK AS WELL
Alec Ingold, remember him? In early March, one of the Dolphins’ first free-agent signings was this fullback from the Raiders.
In this Kyle Shanahan/Mike McDaniel system, the fullback is a crucial component, and Miami didn’t have on on their roster.
While McDaniel was in San Francisco, the fullback was on the field for 50% of the offensive snaps. In today’s NFL standards, that’s a lot!
Do I expect Miami to have a fullback on the field for 50% of the snaps? No, that may be a little high. But they will be on the field no fewer than 40%; you can bet your house on that.
And Ingold can play in 2021; PFF ranked him as the 3rd best-blocking fullback in the NFL with a 71.3 run-blocking grade. And he also can make plays as a receiver coming out of the backfield as well. He has 28 receptions for 239 yards and three touchdowns in three seasons.
Overall, the Dolphins’ rushing attack should be significantly better in 2022 than it has been in many years. The play-caller on offense is known for wanting to run the ball, and the talent he has brought in has a track record of success on the field. The Dolphins have had a running back by committee approach the past few years, the issue is they haven’t had a committee. They have had marginal NFL running backs who have failed to get the job done. This year, the running back by committee approach will succeed because the talent level in the committee is there.
The new guys are clearly better, I agree. But I don’t think you can overstate how disjointed our o-line was last year. Ricky, Ronnie, and Ajayi would have probably posted career lows in 2021, given that the go to run call was up the middle int the stacked box. That was hard to watch. It was interesting how fast the fins resigned Ahmed–forgot that he came to us after SF released him. They must like his speed.