Miami Dolphins' Running Game Will Be Revitalized vs. Colts
What's the best gift you can give a struggling running game?
How about a struggling run defense?
The Dolphins, as a team, have gotten progressively worse running the football on a per-carry basis.
Dolphins running back Reggie Bush got off to a hot start to the season, with 302 rushing yards in the first three games of the season and an average of 6.04 yards per carry, adding 72 receiving yards on 10 receptions. Since then, he has just 191 yards on 62 carries for an average of 3.08 yards per carry.
Part of that may be due to an injury he sustained against the New York Jets in Week 3, but he looked much more comfortable running the ball against the Jets following the bye week to recover.
Although his performance this past week wasn't a dominant outing, Bush had his best game in quite some time with 59 yards on 14 carries to mark his first game over four yards per carry in over a month.
The Jets' run defense may not be stellar, but it has improved over the past few weeks. Where the Jets defense is 24th in the league against the run, allowing 4.4 YPA, the Colts currently rank 29th and are giving up 4.8 YPA.
Bush isn't the only one to keep in mind when talking about the Dolphins' running game.
After some struggles with ball security early in the season, second-year back Daniel Thomas has improved over the course of the season as well. He had ball security issues early, but he hasn't fumbled since losing two fumbles in the first three games of the season.
"You want to have confidence in your guys," said Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin of Thomas. "Not that we didn’t have confidence in Daniel, but let’s be honest, he had a couple fumbles... So to be able to get him in the game (and) get 14-15 carries roughly, whatever we got him, and see him run the ball with good pad level and good ball security, certainly we felt good about that."
Thomas hasn't provided many big plays for the Dolphins this year, but he has become a steady presence at the goal line with three touchdown carries on the season.
Whether it's Bush or Thomas, the Dolphins could be looking to get their backs involved early.
The primary weaknesses the Colts have in run defense are along the defensive line, where Antonio Johnson and Cory Redding have both been blown off the ball consistently.
With plays like the ones we see above, there's no way the Dolphins made it through a whole week of practice without once highlighting the matchup advantages they'll have on the interior.
Looking at FootballOutsiders.com's adjusted line yards, we find that the Dolphins are one of the most effective teams at running up the middle and that they do it an average of around 53 percent of the time. The Colts, on the other hand, rank 30th in adjusted line yards up the middle against the run (per FootballOutsiders.com) and 31st in overall DVOA against the run.
All that being said, the Colts won't exactly be a pushover. After giving up a rushing touchdown in four of their first five games to start the season, the Colts have gone two straight weeks without giving up a rushing score.
The Titans, however, did have success running the ball, with 112 yards on 25 carries total, exposing some cracks in the armor that the Dolphins could expose.
The Dolphins could need their running game this week more than ever. Their matchup with the Colts couldn't have come at a better time.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.
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