The Dolphins running back situation has to be a major focus for this game. The performance of Jay Ajayi hasn’t been stellar to this point and at least one run from Arian Foster was down right concerning last week. Either head coach Adam Gase knows something we don’t or he’s putting a brave face on the issue.
“We’re trying to evaluate that position. It seems like all of those guys are playing really well and that’s a good thing. The fact that we are complaining about running back depth, I’ll take that all day.”
I assure you, no one is complaining about depth. They’re worried that a team that wants to play multiple running backs doesn’t appear to have even one that is of starting quality.
Jay Ajayi is the young draft pick that the Dolphins have had a year to develop. Undoubtedly they’d like to see him take this job. Draft and develop - that’s the path to consistent success in the NFL.
But so far Ajayi has lacked the patience, vision and has not demonstrated the receiving skills of a good all around starting running back. He’s still young and he’s got a lot to learn. But playing running back isn’t brain surgery. It’s time for the Dolphins to see more out of Ajayi.
Arian Foster is another problem. He didn’t play against the Giants and with only 2 carries for -5 yards against the Cowboys, there is only limited set of plays to look at.
“We didn’t have much to evaluate,” Gase said of Foster’s performance. “The couple of carries that he had, there wasn’t much there. He tried to create a couple things on his own. Hopefully we can get him going a little bit this week. Obviously I don’t want to overdo it with him but I’m pretty sure, his resume speaks for itself.”
He did, indeed, try to make something happen on his own and, arguably, he should have. Given virtually an even head start at the line of scrimmage on the Dallas periphery, Foster failed to out run the defensive end and get around the edge on one run that he really should have been able to bounce outside. It was only one play. But for a player coming off of a ruptured Achilles tendon it was a bad sign.
Dolphin fans need to focus on Foster’s speed, quickness and, especially, his explosion. Clearly the Dolphins value him most as a pass catcher. His ability to separate from linebackers in coverage is therefore crucial to the success of their plans.
As far as his resume is concerned, the Dolphins are going to have to forget that. Except for where it accounts for veteran experience it should mean nothing and the fact that we’re hearing about it so often is also a concern.
Finally, there is Isaiah Pead, a guy who may be the best all around running back that the Dolphins have. Pead shows more of the physical characteristics of Ajayi with more of the veteran savvy of Foster. He runs with patience and with vision and he’s shown the ability to catch a pass.
"I’ve been here since springtime learning Coach Gase’s offense." Pead said. "It’s all about being patient and taking it one snap at a time and making reads. Not making cuts in your head. Take what you’ve got."
After doing extremely well against back ups, the odds seem to be in favor of Pead getting more first team snaps and it will be interesting to see if he can take advantage of the opportunity. If he does, the Dolphins may have found an unexpected solution to a problem that Gase doesn’t seem willing to even admit that he has, yet.
This column was written by Tom Shannon. Follow him on Twitter: @bearingthenews
Latest Dolphins News