Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Hope and Concern: Running back
By James Walker
Training camps are right around the corner. In the meantime, we'll examine key questions with the team heading into an important season.
Next, we take a look at Miami’s running backs, who were inconsistent last year.
Biggest reason for concern: Lack of explosiveness
The Dolphins have plenty of tailbacks in their stable. Lamar Miller is last year’s incumbent starter coming off a disappointing season. Knowshon Moreno is a free-agent signing who will push and compete with Miller. Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee are backups fighting for a roster spot. But the one common trait for all four of these running backs is a lack of explosiveness. The Dolphins don’t have any home-run hitters at tailback, which was reflective in their 26th-ranked rushing offense last season. Miller is Miami’s quickest tailback, but he flopped in his first year as a starter. He only had four carries of 20 yards or more last season and was not the workhorse Miami was looking for. Moreno is a former first-round pick who is coming off a career year with the Denver Broncos. But many of the wide rushing lanes Moreno had last season was due to the threat of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning under center. Moreno will not have those same holes this season. It remains to be seen if this group is good enough to take the pressure off third-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Biggest reason for hope: Bill Lazor
There is a new sheriff in town running Miami's offense. The Dolphins hired first-year offensive coordinator Bill Lazor from the Philadelphia Eagles. Lazor is bringing some of the schemes and principles he learned from Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly to Miami, and the early reviews have been solid. What does this mean for Miami’s running game? It means Miller and Moreno have a chance to flourish this year in a more wide-open attack. Lazor is experimenting with some creative ideas this spring. One idea is to use Moreno and Miller in the same backfield. Lazor’s offense also uses a lot of formations, shifts and a quicker tempo to dictate to the defense. This style of offense is significantly different from former Dolphins’ offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, whose play-calling was stale and predictable last season.