Miami Dolphins Need an Upgrade at Running Back, Not Quarterback

Carlos SandovalAnalyst IIIApril 8, 2011

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 19:  Running back Ricky Williams #34 of the Miami Dolphins is upended by cornerback Donte Whitner #20 of the Buffalo Bills during a game at Sun Life Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Miami, Florida. The Bills defeated the Dolphins 17-14. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

I recently composed a masterpiece about Chad Henne and how Henne should no longer be a part of the woeful Miami offense.

Though I never said he was the issue, I really felt that getting another quarterback was a much more important priority than upgrading any other position, and that upgrading from Henne would put the Fins over the top.

After hours and hours of doubting my judgment, it's clear that I was wrong; the Dolphins need help on the ground, not in the air.

Quickly, let me say this: Chad Henne sure as hell isn't off the hook. The guy has been horribly inconsistent over the past two years and with the talent that the organization has put around him, I'm failing to see his upside.

However, that ground game needs some work.

The Dolphins are built upon the boring, yet effective, style of football that wins games by way of gutting it, keeping their opponents' offense off the field and winning the time-of-possession battle with their pound-and-ground running game that sees the backs go right down the middle behind those beefy, skilled offensive linemen.

That's the reason why the Dolphins underachieved.

Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams couldn't deliver consistently, averaging 3.7 and 4.2 yards per carry respectively. This are pretty bad, considering that they get a ton of carries and, early in the season, the offensive line was doing its job.

People tend to think that the offensive line has gone awry, and blame the lack of run game on that. That's freaking false. Sure, Jake Long is a damn stud that anchors the big front, but it's not just him. The entire line cooperates, especially when they're competitive. Let's not be blind, here—as soon as a team starts faltering, the performance becomes road-kill.

Let's take it by numbers, yes?

In the first five games, the Dolphins' offensive line allowed nine sacks in five games. Not bad, really, and this came against hard-nosed defenses like the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings (who finished top 10 in overall yards allowed), New England Patriots and New York Jets.

Fast forward to just the last four games and the Dolphins gave up 15 sacks, where two of these games included contests against the Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills

So, there you have it. When healthy, and when motivated to compete, the offensive line anchors the team.

The Dolphins' bread and butter, their crop, their cattle, if you will, was the ground game. If it's not the offensive line's fault that no rushing yards were accumulated on a healthy, consistent basis, whose fault is it?


Because, to my lovely, dark-brown eyes, the 'backs were a bit slow to hit the holes created by the line. When they did get to those lines, they didn't hit the holes as hard and with as much passion as they did a couple of years ago.

Their inability to perform forced Chad Henne to throw 40 to 50 times per game, which isn't his designated role on the team. The quarterback position in Miami requires that Henne stays as a game manager, merely not screwing the game up for the Fins and relying heavily on that defense.

Those running backs play a more central role, and when they start losin' their athleticism, it's time to put them on the shelf. That style of play requires physical, shove-it-down-your-throat running, something Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams lacked.

So, I don't care where the Dolphins get a new back. If it were my choice, I'd go after Mark Ingram, somehow, and it makes sense, considering quite a few mock drafts have him going there.

Of course, that knee of his could be a problem, but the free agent class of 2011 in the NFL isn't exactly the most awesome crop of dudes, with the best of the batch being Darren Sproles, someone who seriously doesn't fit into the Dolphins' style of play.

Either way, the Dolphins could use some help at running back. Should they pick up a successful find, things are going to be lookin' pretty good around these parts.