It was not the kind of season debut Miami wanted from its running game. Miller and Thomas entered this year with fairly high expectations in an effort to replace former starter Reggie Bush, who left for the Detroit Lions in free agency. Their first combined effort was a dud.
The Dolphins were fortunate to leave Cleveland with a victory with that kind of rushing performance. Miami's running game produced 20 yards on 23 carries. But Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (272 passing yards) took over the offense with his arm and produced three scoring drives in the second half.
Expect a motivated pair of tailbacks in Week 2 against the Indianapolis Colts.
“It’s definitely unusual for us to rush for 20 yards and still win a game,” Thomas said in the locker room after Tuesday’s practice. “I just feel like that’s a one-time thing this year.”
There was plenty of blame to go around. Not only did the running backs fail to escape tackles, but the offensive line provided little push and few running lanes. A big focus in Tuesday’s portion of practice open to the media was getting the run fits correct up front.
Cleveland’s defensive line pounded Miami’s offensive line, which has been a much-maligned group since training camp. Players were forced to painfully watch the film of the running game earlier this week to identify their mistakes.
“It wasn’t very good,” Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo said. “There were things we could’ve done better. If you look around this building right now, there’s a lot of people, from players to coaches, that feel they could’ve done something a little different to help.”
Here is an interesting stat: Miami’s running game is ranked dead last in the NFL after Week 1. However, the Colts’ run defense also is ranked 31st. Establishing a ground game will be important for Miami this week. Both the Dolphins' offense and Colts' defense are optimistic they will improve in Sunday’s matchup.
“[The Colts] are pretty much the same front that we played last week, but they’re a much faster group,” Miller explained. “We just got to prepare better and do our assignments so we can have a good running game this week. You just got to bounce back and be more hungrier.”