Is Dolphins RB Lamar Miller a Legitimate Threat to Rush for 1,500 Yards?

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IMay 15, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 09:  Lamar Miller #26 of the Miami Dolphins in action against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on December 9, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The odds are likely stacked against Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller accomplishing his lofty goal of 1,500 rushing yards during the 2013 season. 

While Miller, a fourth-round pick in 2012, expects to take over as the starting running back in Miami for the departed Reggie Bush, a quick glance at both the history books and the Dolphins offense suggests 1,500 yards is too high a mark for Miller to reach next season. 

Miller explained both his expectations as a starter and how he's working to get to his 1,500-yard goal to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald

“I’m trying to get bigger and faster, improve my explosiveness so I can break more tackles, make guys miss," the 215-pound Miller said. "Trying to become a great back in this league.”

Miller is also working out with former University of Miami star and current San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore this offseason. 

However, everything will have to go right in 2013 for Miller to make good on his goal.

Recent history tells us that 1,500 yards is no walk in the park for an NFL running back.

Since 2006, only 14 running backs have rushed for 1,500 or more yards in a season. Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings has done it twice (2008, 2012), pushing the total number of 1,500-yard seasons to 15. That leaves an average of just over two 1,500-yard rushers a season over the last seven years, which demonstrates just how difficult rushing for such a number has become recently (even if four rushed for that total in 2012).

Finding the right amount of carries might be difficult for Miller too.

Between the 15 seasons in which the 1,500-yard mark has been broken, the accomplishing running backs have averaged a little over 338 carries. 

Will Miller come close to that number in 2013? A look back at last season's offense makes it seem unlikely. 

In 2012, the Dolphins ran the football 383 times with their running backs (440 total if you count quarterbacks and other non-running back carries). Reggie Bush, a 16-game starter at running back, received only 227 carries—roughly 60 percent of the position's total. 

Even if the Dolphins hand out 400 carries to running backs in 2013 and Miller ups his share of the carries to 70 percent, he would only receive 280 total carries.

Considering the Dolphins also have Daniel Thomas (91 carries in 2012) and 2013 fifth-rounder Mike Gillislee in the running back stable, as well as the expectation that quarterback Ryan Tannehill will shoulder an even bigger load in his second season, Miller receiving any more than 280 carries would seem to be a stretch. 

In the 280-carry scenario, Miller would have to average a whopping 5.4 yards per carry to crack 1,500 yards. Only two running backs (Peterson, C.J. Spiller) were able to accomplish that high of an average in 2012. 

In fact, only two running backs since 2006 have rushed for 1,500 yards without 300 or more carries: DeAngelo Williams in 2008 (273 for 1,515) and Jamaal Charles in 2012 (285 for 1,505). 

For Miller to break 1,500 yards as an NFL sophomore in 2013, he'll likely have to produce a special season like Williams or Charles, which have become exceeding more rare.

Miller will also have to stay healthy to hit his mark. All 15 of the 1,500-yard seasons since 2006 were accomplished by backs who played in all 16 games of the given year.

Remember, Miller arrived in the NFL with only one year of collegiate starting experience at Miami and then produced just 51 carries in his first professional season. Can he hold up against a full season of pounding? 

Setting goals—in this case, very lofty goals—is never a worry, but the numbers don't appear to favor Miller accomplishing those goals in 2013. That's not to say he won't have a breakout year next season, but hitting 1,500 yards is likely out of his reach.