Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Miami Dolphins Running Back Situation

2013 Dolphins RBs

With Reggie Bush flying north to Detroit, the void at running back is left up to a three-way competition in Miami. Prior to any preseason snaps, analysts labeled Lamar Miller as Bush's successor at starting RB. However, the preseason has not ensured Miller's top spot on the depth chart beyond Week 1.

In fact, no Dolphins RB has consistently performed enough to claim starting dibs. What we're left with is a temporary running-back-by-committee situation in South Florida. Here's a breakdown of what each back has to offer for Miami's offense:

Lamar Miller

Dolphins RB Depth Chart Miller clearly is the back with the most potential in Miami. His breakaway speed and explosiveness make him a dangerous weapon to have in the backfield.

However, his lackluster preseason performances haven't solidified him as the feature back. Miller has 17 carries for 72 yards (4.2 yards per carry) this preseason. And his shaky catching skills have been exposed with a spell of dropped pass - most of which were short and on target.

Then again, it is the preseason and teams don't reveal their complete offensive playbook during this stretch. Perhaps being placed in better formations will allow Miller to breakout and produce.

Daniel Thomas

Dolphins RB Depth Chart
Miller is more of a bruiser back that's able to take contact and shed tackles. He definitely has a nice skill set to add to the Dolphins arsenal. But his lack of consistency and occasional fumbles make it difficult for Miami to label him their top RB.

In the preseason, Thomas produced 52 yards on 19 carries (2.7 yards per carry). That's much worse than Miller's stats, but Thomas did have a nice showing against the Houston Texans (4 carries, 25 yards).

He will have an opportunity to redeem himself this season while splitting some carries with Miller. But right now it's Miller's job to lose; Thomas hasn't proved enough in the past two seasons to earn that right.

Mike Gillislee

Dolphins RB Depth Chart
Gillislee is more of a well rounded back with the best hands in the RB unit. He took the brunt of the carries this preseason since he's third on the depth chart. He racked up 125 yards on 42 carries, which averages out to 3.0 yards per carry.

The only way he gets a shot at significant reps is if Miller gets injured and Thomas fails to produce. While possible, this scenario is unlikely. But Gillislee does have a shot at playing in a few dual RB sets where he becomes a running and passing threat.

Gillislee's playing time will be very limited but he definitely has to shot to contribute in dual RB sets and perhaps as a wide receiver. He can be a running and passing threat in certain situations.

Final Note

Miller's name is penciled in next to No. 1 running back on Miami's depth chart. That's for sure. But expect him to split carries until he can prove to shoulder the load as a feature back. Thomas still offers a change of pace to Miami's offense and will be taking some snaps. Gillislee brings some dynamic skills as well. 

It will be up to Miller to bolster his value by consistently providing a reliable ground attack and gaining chunk yardage. Otherwise Thomas and Gillislee will be waiting on the sidelines to have their shot at number one.

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