6 Reasons the Miami Dolphins Will Run the Ball More in 2012
The Miami Dolphins might have replaced Tony Sparano and his smash-mouth philosophy with Joe Philbin and his air-it-out mentality, but don't think Miami will suddenly abandon the run in 2012.
In fact, the Fins may run the ball more this season.
Over the last four years, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano tried to build a big, bruising offense that would overpower opposing defenses with sheer force.
However, that blueprint proved futile and outdated.
Now, the Dolphins are making a 180-degree turn.
Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin have set out to construct an explosive, complex offense that will eventually rival those of the Patriots, Packers and Saints. Before that can happen, however, the Dolphins need to stockpile weapons through the draft and develop them.
In the meantime, Miami may remain a run-first team.
The Dolphins Might Have 2 Solid Quarterbacks, but Neither Is Special
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No disrespect to David Garrard or Matt Moore, but neither player is special.
Neither is capable of launching aerial attacks on a weekly basis, posting huge numbers or elevating Miami's offense to another level. Both Garrard and Moore are defined by conservatism and accuracy, not arm strength and gun-slinging.
Joe Philbin isn't going to ask Garrard or Moore to play beyond their limits or step outside of their comfort zones.
If the Dolphins were intent on installing a pass-heavy offense this season, then they would've made a stronger push for Matt Flynn or pursued somebody like Kyle Orton.
Both Garrard and Moore can keep the Fins competitive and afloat, but Miami has to run the ball often and effectively for either to succeed.
Miami Doesn't Have the Personnel to Rely on the Passing Game
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Even if the Dolphins landed a strong-armed quarterback like Matt Flynn, they'd still have to emphasize the running game in 2012.
Because, this wide receiving corps isn't good enough to consistently challenge opposing secondaries downfield.
Davone Bess, Chad Ochocinco, Legedu Naanee and Brian Hartline are all quality wideouts, but none of them are special at this stage in their respective careers. The same goes for Anthony Fasano and Charles Clay.
Bess, Clay, Naanee and Hartline all have the potential to be special players, but until they make the leap, the Dolphins will have to keep running the football.
Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush All Demand Touches
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When you have three running backs like Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller on your roster, how can you not emphasize the running game?
Granted, Daniel Thomas is coming off a disappointing rookie season, Lamar Miller is an unproven rookie with durability concerns and there's no telling if Reggie Bush can replicate last season's success. But this trio still has the potential to become something special.
Thomas has a truly unique blend of size and athleticism, Miller is flat-out electric and Bush may just be entering his prime.
This running back triumvirate still has questions to answer and doubts to dispel, but Joe Philbin will give them every opportunity to do so. Although Miller's role is yet to be determined, Thomas and Bush should receive more collective carries than they did in 2011.
Joe Philbin Never Neglected the Running Game in Green Bay
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Under Joe Philbin, the Green Bay Packers developed one of our generation's greatest passing attacks. Packers highlight reels are dominated by Aaron Rodgers tossing 40-yard strikes to Greg Jennings and his arsenal of weapons.
However, Philbin never let his offense completely neglect the running game.
From 2007 to 2012 (Philbin's five seasons as Green Bay's offensive coordinator), the Packers averaged the 19th-most rushing attempts in the NFL.
Yes, that's low, but considering the talent Philbin had at his disposal, it's impressive. If he can resist abandoning the run game with Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley, then he surely won't abandon it with David Garrard, Chad Ochocinco and Davone Bess.
The Dolphins Have to Control the Ball Against Many of Their 2012 Opponents
More than a third of Miami's games come against teams who light up the scoreboard with an aerial attack. Because the Dolphins don't have the firepower to trade blows with these teams, it's vital that they establish the run and control the ball.
Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas (and maybe Lamar Miller) need to eat up chunks of yards at a time, allowing the Dolphins to march down the field, milk the clock and keep those offenses off of the field.
If Miami tries to emphasize the pass rather than the run, it could backfire very, very quickly.
There's Still Uncertainty Along the Offensive Line
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Once again, the Dolphins are approaching the regular season with question marks along the offensive line.
Jake Long and Mike Pouncey are undoubted and unquestioned cornerstones, and no news is good news for left guard Richie Incognito, who is oversized by traditional West Coast offense norms.
However, the right side of the line is where the doubt and uncertainty lingers.
If the season started tomorrow, then either John Jerry, Artis Hicks or Nate Garner would line up at right guard. That's not good. The Dolphins' starting right guard may not even be on the roster yet, but regardless, it'll most likely be a weak spot all season long.
Then, second-round pick Jonathan Martin is battling the young and inexperienced Lydon Murtha for the starting right tackle spot. Having two unproven players fight for a starting job is very discomforting, and we can only pray that one of them will be serviceable.
Anyway, if the Dolphins' offensive line plays poorly during the season, then Joe Philbin may be forced to resort to the running game.
Although both David Garrard and Matt Moore have mobility, neither should be classified as a mobile quarterback. This will become an issue if Miami's wideouts struggle to get separation. Considering the Dolphins' starting wideouts will face elite corners on a fairly regular basis, then there's a very good chance they will.
So, if defenses generate a pass rush, then things could quickly implode for the Dolphins.
Although this is the worst-case scenario, it's a very plausible one.
In order to combat this, Joe Philbin needs to run the ball aplenty, and utilize the play-action pass.