By: Ron Hiatt
Before I dive in, let's get some context of where I'm coming from. Entering the rookie head coaching season of Brian Flores for the Miami Dolphins, I felt that the running back position was in good shape. We had Kenyan Drake, one of my dudes poised for a bigger role that I, and others, felt he had earned.
The season began with the infatuation with Kalen Ballage as the starter and once again Drake coming off the bench. By mid-season, the Dolphins had traded Drake to the Arizona Cardinals for a conditional 6th round that ended up becoming the 5th round pick Miami had sent to the Cardinals for QB Josh Rosen.
Patrick Laird finished that season as the Dolphins starter at running back. During the draft the Dolphins traded a 5th rounder to the 49'ers for Matt Breida and signed Jordan Howard. Entering 2020 the depth chart at running back was Jordan Howard, Matt Breida, Myles Gaskins, Patrick Laird, and rookie Malcolm Perry. Howard ended up being inactive after being ineffective as the starter with Gaskins emerging as the primary back with sprinkling Breida in here and there.
Week 8 after game 7 off a bye week and before the trade deadline, the Dolphins swapped a 6th for a 7th and running back DeAndre Washington of the Chiefs. The Dolphins appeared to add a sixth back leaving fans wondering what was happening as the deadline past. We later found out Gaskin strained his MCL and Breida injured his hamstring leaving the Dolphins thin at running back.
Week 9 away at the Cardinals will possibly feature Howard, Laird, Perry, and Ahmed as Washington learns the playbook. Gaskin went to IR meaning he will miss a minimum of 3 games. Howard looks to get a second chance to show something and hopefully Laird can see the field. I would start Laird and give Perry a bigger role in the backfield using more motion as both Laird and Perry are excellent receivers and Laird has shown he can run hard.
Washington, originally drafted by the Raiders in the 5th round pick 143 in the 2016 draft, became expendable with drafting Josh Jacobs in the 1st round of the 2019 draft and joined the Chiefs. Washington runs hard, has good vision and is dangerous in he receiving game. I view Washington as future insurance as Breida is in a 1-year deal and a free agent after this season, mixed with Howard being a disappointment, and has no guaranteed money at the end of this season. Washington, to the fortunes of the Dolphins, was once again expendable in KC with rookie 1st rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Damian Williams, and newly acquired ex-Jet, Le’Veon Bell.
The Dolphins running back room got more talented, and the future seems bright again at the position moving forward with young and hungry guys like Laird, Gaskin, Perry, Ahmed and now, DeAndre Washington. Jordan Howard and Matt Breida appear to be low risk high reward one-year tryouts as I expected when both were brought in.
Please follow Ron Hiatt on Twitter at @pacificfinfan1 and give his work a read here on PhinManiacs!
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