The way the Miami Dolphins will split touches among their running backs remains somewhat mysterious as they enter their opener against the New England Patriots.
And then it will be mysterious again Week 2 against the Baltimore Ravens, and so on and so forth.
There’s no formula set in stone that the Dolphins will stick with, and any variations will likely be determined more by what coaches believe they can execute against given opponents rather than Miami strictly dictating what it wants to do on the ground.
“It’ll be more about matchups,” said running back Chase Edmonds. “That’s what the game is all about.”
Said offensive coordinator Frank Smith: “You try and understand, basically, what do your players do well and then what schemes put you in position to attack the defense and keep them reacting to what we’re doing.”
A best guess would be that Edmonds, brought over in free agency from the Arizona Cardinals, will see the most snaps and touches, utilizing his abilities to run and catch the ball out of the backfield; then Raheem Mostert, with his experience in coach Mike McDaniel’s running games in San Francisco, figures to be next in line, not far behind in carries, with either Myles Gaskin or Salvon Ahmed cleaning up the remainder of the running back workload.
“Your reps are limited, but the output is up to you and how you want to play,” said Mostert, who is familiar with the committee approach from playing for the 49ers. “It’s week in and week out based on the opponent. One week, I might get more reps than Chase. Or another week, Chase might get more reps than me. Another week, Myles might be the key guy, or even Salvon.”
The four tailbacks are all of a similar build, between 5 feet 9 and 5 feet 11 and ranging from 194 to 205 pounds. There isn’t one back who is considered a big, between-the-tackles runner, but they all have their dynamic abilities in space.
“With those overlapping skillsets, we should be able to have someone fresh who is someone that we can lean on a hot hand, if necessary,” said McDaniel of the rotation as he has implemented his wide-zone blocking scheme into Miami’s offense throughout the offseason. “That group of running backs [in training camp] was as competitive as I can really remember having in my NFL career.”
With the hope that those similar backs can make it so it’s like the offense doesn’t miss a beat with one guy in for another as they all remain fresh, the group also lacks a typical goal-line ball carrier. Sony Michel, at 215 pounds, would’ve presented the closest thing to it had he made the team, but Miami opted for Gaskin and Ahmed and their crossover in skillset with Edmonds and Mostert over him.
While it’s uncertain who will get goal-line and short-yardage carries for the Dolphins, the cast of diminutive backs feel confident they have what it takes to pick up the necessary yardage.
“It’s all about finding that white line and getting that yard that you need,” said Edmonds. “Goal-line running is nothing about the running back. It’s find the white line and get the ball across the goal line.”
“We’re all scrappy in our own little way,” added Mostert. “You’re not going to get a Derrick Henry all the time. … It’s about grit, and we have a lot of grit in our running back room.”
Running backs coach Eric Studesville noted that it’s oftentimes not advantageous to insert a heavier back whose role is strictly short yardage into those situations because it can also tip off the defense. The Dolphins will leave their options open in those scenarios.
“They’re going to have to be complete backs and do it all,” said Studesville. “We’re going to do our best to put them in positions to be successful. If third-and-1 means we can run it, we will. If we need to throw it, we’re going to do whatever we need to do to convert and move the sticks in those situations.”
Some of the Dolphins’ running back questions will be answered in Week 1, but the fluidity of the touch distribution will keep those answers from being constant throughout the season.
Source: Berkshire mont