How things went:
The running game vs. Atlanta was a microcosm of how the Dolphins' offense looked all day: non-existent. Ronnie Brown registered 43 rushing yards on 10 carries in the game, while Ricky Williams wasn't far behind, racking up only 39 yards on seven carries. The underlying story?
The Dolphins didn't run the ball enough. They had a total of 22 carries in an offense that is known for executing the Wild Cat (or Pat) offense. I understand that when a team is behind, they are forced to throw the ball, but the bread and butter of this Dolphin team lies in the legs of Brown, Williams, and Pat White, not in the arm of QB Chad Pennington.
You know what stood out the most to me with the running game? Miami ran a play out of the Wild Cat offense only TWO times, with both being ineffective. Fans and media have heard so much about the Dolphins using Pat White in the "Wild Pat" formation and Miami only used him out of it once? Miami will need to use White's skills in the next game against the Colts to spread out the defense and give Pennington more time in the pocket.
What needs to change?
The entire game plan. Brown needs to see more carries. He averaged 4.3 yards per carry in the game, but only ran the ball 10 times. If he see's more carries, the Dolphins will be able to throw the ball down the field more effectively.
The Dolphins need the combination of Williams and Brown to spread out the opposing defense and be able to throw the ball down the field. Miami will also need to just run the ball more, period. They had only 22 carries for a team that revolves around it's running game.
What Miami will need to do next week vs. Indy:
Actually run the football. The Colts have a very physical defense and they will need to tire them out as well as keep Peyton Manning and that offense off the field. Brown and Williams will need to see 30+ carries and Miami will need to run out of the Wild Pat offense in the game.
Expect to see the Dolphins pound the running game early in the game to try to set up the play action game.
What does it all mean?
Preseason means nothing. Detroit went 4-0 before their opening game last season. They went 0-16 the rest of the way. Miami will need to figure out how to game plan around their running game to avoid heading down that road with the toughest schedule (according to opponent winning percentage last season) in the league.
In essence, the first game is always an adjustment game. Miami's season really began when they defeated San Diego and New England back-to-back last season and went on that great run to end the season. Four turnovers in one game after you have 13 all of last season doesn't help either. If the Dolphins can get their running game on track, their season should follow.
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