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Miami Dolphins content to save Ronnie Brown

One of Ronnie Brown's goals this season -- aside from gaining over 1,000 yards -- was to remain healthy the entire season for the first time in his four-year career.

Well, so far so good.

Brown is none the worse for wear with four games to go.

But one reason he is healthy may be both blessing and curse for the Dolphins. The fact is this season, for the second season in a row, Brown's usage in the running game has decreased. That's right, the guy who has been the trigger man for the Wildcat Package, the Dolphins starter in nine of 12 games, is averaging 14.1 carries per game this season.

He averaged 18.5 carries per game in 2006 and 17 carries per game last season until he injured a knee and was lost for the season after seven games.

Brown ranks 26th in the NFL in carries per game and his 169 carries is 16th in the NFL.

So perhaps the reason Brown is healthy is that he is fresh and often on the sideline as backfield mate Ricky Williams takes his 10 carries per game.

The problem for Brown, however, is that he's one of those backs that gets better with more carries. He has often discussed how he likes to get into a rhythm as the game progresses and his carries mount. He obviously is not finding that zone with fewer and fewer carries.

So the Dolphins find themselves straddling the proverbial fine line between using Brown enough to get the most out of him without using him so much that he could become worn, and more prone to injury.

Of course that assumes you buy into the idea that Miami is saving Brown from injury by, well, saving Brown. Remember last year's terrible injury? It happened on an interception return in which Brown was trying to make a tackle.

It wasn't about him getting too many carries.

So would you use Brown more the final four weeks of the season, throwing caution to the wind and hoping he finds his comfort zone and that extra gear that frankly he hasn't had lately? Or do you continue to let him plod along at 14 or so carries a game and get the 4.1 yards per carry Brown is delivering so far this year?

I say the Dolphins have a thoroughbred in the stall and they should ride him. But I don't get a vote. The guess here from everything I'm told is the Dolphins are going to continue giving Brown 14-15 carries a game while Williams continues to get his 10-12 carries. And if there's one game one of them is hot, that guy will get more carries that game.

But handing it to one guy over and over and over so he can find a rhythm for the game and get stronger with every carry and maybe put the team on his back in the fourth quarter? Not likely.


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This reminds me of another back that used to get stronger as the game wore on: Larry Johnson. You can see how many Super Bowls riding him brought to Kansas City. So no, I don't have a problem with them splitting carries between Ronnie and Ricky, or adjusting the load to ensure the hot back that day gets more carries.

I think in the long run (2-3 years) when this team matures more and brings in more talent, it will pay off.

I think that we will find out just how important it is for a team to have a solid, stable offensive line. We will find out just how good the line is. It will begin and end there, R. Brown, R. Williams or whomever. There have been very few backs which made their offensive line look good when they really sucked: Barry Sanders and O.J. Simpson to name two.

The story is not Ronnie Brown, the real story is the loss of Donald Thomas and Justin Smiley.

everything's on the line right now--use him. After about ten carries everybody on the opposing team's D knows how hard he hits and, frankly, "don't want none"--part of the reason he gets better as the game goes on. Our playoffs have started already, we lose one and we're done, so leave nothing out there.

I agree that it's really about our O-Line....

I do want Ronnie or Ricky to get 20 plus a game either one would have better stats, but is it all about individual stats?

7-5 and counting

The one problem we have is that both Ricky and Ronnie get better with more carries. The reason being is that they are so physical even late in the game that they literally punish defenders when they hit them. Another problem that I have is that when Ronnie gets into a rythem he gets very excited and plays inspired. Right now I feel both backs never get into any sort of groove and they end up being reserved with their emotions. This is an emotional game. A game where adrenaline fuels you. This would make them unstoppable in the fourth...when we could drain the clock and hold onto the ball.

I think we need to

I asked this question on the Smiley broken leg blog and noone seems to have an answer.

What is up with Murphy our 4th round O Lineman. He has been inactive all season. I didnt hear that he is injured. Was this a wasted pick? Is he that bad that he cant get a sniff of the field?

Good post Mando. I think it is great that Ricky is spelling Ronnie, but he is taking away way too many carries. I think Ronnie Brown should be getting 20 carries a game in these last 4 games. That's enough for him to establish a rythm, but not too much that it will wear him down.

One more thing: WHat's up with ricky getting the short yardage (3rd and 1) carries? All of those should go to Ronnie, who is clearly a better power back.

Spliting the time with Rickey will extend his career. After Rickey retires in the next two years Ronnie will have to carry the load by himself - so he should enjoy it while he can and put everything he has into each carry he has. Ronnie is still not running the ball like he did last year and it is not because of reduced carries. I wonder if he is holding back or if his leg is not completly healed - althought they say with his type of injury it takes a running back two years to get back to where they were before!

I'd like to see at least one of the backs get 20+ carries per game. It reminds me back to Cowboys of yesteryear when they always use to flash the stat that the Cowboys were 30-0 or some crazy number like that when Tony Dorsett got at least 20 carries. The runs will typically be something like 3,4,3,1,20,1,3,2,80. If they dont get enough touches, you're not giving them much of the chance to get those 80s when the defenses wear down.

Maybe Ricky needs 10-15 more carries?

Menace, I don't need anger management. But obviously the truth must hurt. On the other hand, we believe that you should see a shrink for your split personality disorder. "Who am I now... am I Menace or am I Mando...is it Mando or Menace? I know we're one in the same but these voices are driving me crazy!" "AAAAAAh!"

If the O-line were playing better then I'd use him more. But the O-line hasn't been consistent in the running game.

First, the notion of a back getting better the more carries he has may simply have more to do with the defense becoming worn down. Miami has not used the rush enough this season to wear down defenses. If I remember correctly, didn't Ronnie share the backfield in college as well?

Secondly, the two-headed attack is how the Steelers won the superbowl recently....Parker and Bettis. Even now they share time between backs, wearing out the defense throughout the game.

And, perhaps, Ronnie is not as good a running back as say Ricky is? Or maybe a different style? Just a thought.

Isn't it interesting how the Menace (Mando's character and alter ego) a) knows so much about the Dolphins, b) volunteers to answer Dolphin questions and c) is constantly on a Dolphins blog when Mando is not. But Shhhhh! Didn't you know...these blatantly obvious clues were supposed to be very hard for us to figure out. Shhhhhh!

Armando, a couple of thoughts here...

1) Even though Brown's carries are down, his TOUCHES are up...that includes his snaps in the Wildcat where he must make decisions as a QB.

2) The Dolphins should actually emphasize Ricky Williams more in December because Ricky is an outstanding cold weather back.

I agree with phillyfinfan. We still have a shot(although slim) at the playoffs. Leave him in their, if he gets hurt or doesn't perform, than maybe we need to go in another direction. We inherited him from Saban anyway, and he's never finished a whole season. There are always solid starting RBs to draft(Lynch, White, C. Brown, D. Williams...)It's time for Parcells to go get our Curtis Martin/D.Meggett/M. Barber

I agree with phillyfinfan. We still have a shot(although slim) at the playoffs. Leave him in their, if he gets hurt or doesn't perform, than maybe we need to go in another direction. We inherited him from Saban anyway, and he's never finished a whole season. There are always solid starting RBs to draft(Lynch, White, C. Brown, D. Williams...)It's time for Parcells to go get our Curtis Martin/D.Meggett/M. Barber

It really has seemed to me that whenever Ronnie, or Ricky for that matter, get into a groove and are playing well, they pull them out for a series or 2. Very frustrating at times when Ronnie seems to be getting going and seems to be on the verge of dominating the game that they put him on the sidelines.

Aqua Ono, You've Been Reading Too Many Consparacy Books.

Looking over the wins this year - When Ronnie carries the ball over 20 times, the Phins win. simple as that. Not to say that haven't won when he's carried less - but it's certainly not in glorious fashion.

Ronnie needs the ball more. Playoffs will come with victories. That's why the Phins are keeping Ricky.. it's Ronnie insurance. Give Ronnie the ball.. he is the best player on offense.

R. Brown 169 690 4.1 62t 10
R. Williams 120 512 4.3 51t 3
P. Cobbs 10 44 4.4 12 1

Ricky Williams use to say the same thing in his prime. I think it's better to split up the time for a few reasons;

1. It takes all of the burden off of one guy.

2. It keeps them fresher and likely healthier.

3. There is no clear reason (average-wise) to go with Brown more.

4. Change of pace with different backs.

R. Brown 169 690 4.1 62t 10
R. Williams 120 512 4.3 51t 3
P. Cobbs 10 44 4.4 12 1

Ricky Williams use to say the same thing in his prime. I think it's better to split up the time for a few reasons;

1. It takes all of the burden off of one guy.

2. It keeps them fresher and likely healthier.

3. There is no clear reason (average-wise) to go with Brown more.

4. Change of pace with different backs.

Not To Get Off The Subject About The 2 Headed Running Back, What Do You Think Of That Idiot Plexeco Burrass

No Name Is Right.

Does it really matter who gets more carries? With this o-line, the Dolphins will get schooled. Bye-bye playoffs!

We are 15th in the league in rushing but we are 8th in passing yards.
Our leading receiver: Brown-Williams-Cobbs 56 receptions for 600 yards.

He dances too much in the backfield. If he would just hit the damn hole, no matter what size it is, I would be more comfortable with him getting more. But until he does, I would actually favor Ricky getting more because he is getting in the holes quicker.

Yo cuban you alone today?
That chick was all over you yesterday bro, what's her name? Betty?

Master, No Bro Wouldnt Have Worked,shes P.r. And Lives In Miami, What Do You Think Ricky Or Ronnie, Also Iam In Long Island, Shes In Mia, And Not Sure But I Think Its Finfan Post Sex Change.

And I Dont Play For That Team.

Ricky Williams is just as bruising. They both lower their shoulders and finish hard. We have 2 relatively fresh backs for the last 4 games 3 if you count Cobbs, thats a luxury New England would kill for.
They are going to have to find ways to win around the o-line deficiencies. I think they will get the job done. The real problem is on the defensive side, we arent pressuring the QB. Crowder is always late on his blitzes, he misses the QB by a heart beat. The only time we have gotten to the QB is on CB blitz when Will Allen get in there and hugs the QB to the ground.. The bright side is that special teams is finally showing up on Sundays for 2 weeks in a row.

I think Porter has let his sack count get to his head.

That's right beat writer, you don't get a vote. Actually, I found your comments a few blogs ago a bit disturbing about Ted Ginn Jr. -- that you "lobbied" to get him more playing time. You seemed to take at least some credit for getting him more time on the field.

Dude, you're a writer -- cover the team -- don't pretend to have any influence or input on team decisions. I guess it's your job to have fun with wild speculation on your blog but give us some long-lost objectivity once in a while, would you?

I would love to see Ronnie get more carries per game, but with the O-line situation being what it is right now, I think Ricky should get an increased role in the gameplan. Why? I think Ricky has more speed and better moves. He's better at making something out of nothing back there, and with the shuffling of the O-line, Ricky gives you a better chance of avoiding negative plays during breakdowns in the blocking schemes.

Been saying it all year and ten some...Give Ronnie the ball...Ricky trips over him own feet half the time...They may finish runs the same way by lowering their shoulder but I bet if you asked a safety who they'd rather tackle it would be Ricky hands down...

I know it's true about the rythym thing and it is effecting Rickys totals as well but personally I don't care who runs the ball or how many times or yards they run it as long as the team keeps winning. Does anyone know how J. Allen is doing?

BTW. Our oline last yr was terrible and brown was on record pace so the oline arguments are weak at best

The offensive line is bad excuse is not valid since the OL was bad last year and Ronnie averaged 5 yards a carry until he got injured. So give him the darn ball! And Chris S wildcat carries are carries. They count as carries, they are not extra touches. Look at the game books at NFL.com and Ronnie's wildcat carries are not in a special category, they count as rushes. If you want to talk "touches" you have to think about receptions.

Anyway, excellent post Mando.

I'm not doing too good. My hand still hurts and Randy Moss burned my butt.

If ronnie wants the ball more he's gotta stop having those gains for no yards. He had a few of those last week in the 4th quarter and we cant afford that. Keep giving the ball to both of them.

J. Allen has a broken hand but hes not on ir. So who knows we might seem him out there in a cast in a couple of games.

I think Menace is Mando.I think Master is Mando. I think NyScott is Mando. I think Hayden Fox is Mando. I think I am Mando!

Are you the worst columnist in all of South Florida? Likely.

Brown will get his carries. This formula is not much different than Marion Barber and Julius Jones in Dallas.

Good column here, Mando. Good points on both sides of the arguement. One thing you might want to consider: Ronnie Brown has not fumbled this year. So I rather have the ball in his hands than in Chad Pennington's hands any day. Give him the ball more!

I think you go with who is hot at the time. They have done well with keeping both backs healthy. Let them carry you to the postseason... It is rare for a team to arrive at the postseason with a back that is 100%. Miami will have 2. I think we go with who is hot the next two games and then take no prisoners the rest of the way. Ride them all the way to the Super Bowl.

Ronnie Brown needs to get more passes thrown his way. He is awesome after the catch. I do not know what Henning is thinking sometimes.

Actually Ronnie just fumbled 2 wks ago...However he is far less prone to fumbling than Ricky

I agree Mando look when and this is not often Brown gets 20 plus carries a game he goes over the century mark and also averages 5 plus yards a clip,now I like Ricky and I know the offense is mixing things up a bit but how bout giving Ricky a 3rd down role.Now Next season will be Browns last with us unless he resigns but what if next season it's the same thing he gets 14 carries a game then he decides he wants to be in a full time role and signs with another team.I think because next is a contract year he should get the workload.I love Ronnie and I hope he will be in a dolphins uniform for a long time.

With all three backs averaging better than 4 yards per carry, this idea of getting stronger over the course of the game is highly over rated... Most of these guys' contracts have some clause for a bonus after gaining "X" amount of yards in a season. Splitting time is more about money than about getting stronger.

I can see if one back is having an exceptional game reading blocks but I don't buy getting stronger. The DL is getting tired and a fresh back is going to have an advantage. Forgive my cynicism but I think it's all about the money.

Once again, the o-line is banged up. It doesn't matter who gets more carries. The Dolphins base offense is ineffective. The run blocking is putrid. Miami misses the playoffs. Book it.

"Or do you continue to let him plod along at 14 or so carries a game and get the 4.1 yards per game Brown is delivering so far this year?" Mando please tell me you mean 4.1 yards per carry. if it 4.1 per game, than hell yes give him more carries. if not, then im fine with the splitting of time between R&R.

DCphinfan, thanks for the correction. Your Dolphins In Depth editor check is in the mail.

This is a team sport right? I think we get so wrapped up in fantasy numbers that we forget about what really matters. How well are we rushing as a team? If Brown gets 50 yds, Williams gets 50 yds, and Polite and Cobbs total 50 yds, that's 150 yards a game, which isn't half bad. Who cares how many carries or yards one player gets, as long as we're winning football games.

they sould split them on the back field and defeses will freak out!!!!!!!!!!!
run ricky run, run ronnie run
go phins lets kick buffalo in the ass

It's a tough situation. Ricky is the same way. He gets better the more carries he gets in a game. Ricky has stated that he's able to set up defenders better once he knows how they're playing him. Makes sense.

I don't see any big changes like that happening like that in this point of the season. These guys did the time sharing thing with Barber and Jones. That seems to be the hot theory in the NFL - that you need 2 top running backs.

They got Ricky so cheap, it's hard to see them trading anyone in the offseason either. This seems to be their plan for the next few years.

take a second and think about last years game when ronnie tore his ACL. Do you remember Ronnie looking Unstoppable for pretty much every game up until the injury! the games leading up to that game saw Ronnie getting better and better, In the game of his injury, Ronnie was running on a cushion of air! He was ALL THAT! Fast, elusive with nifty moves, and BEAST POWER! I've been waiting all year to see Ronnie run, we know what this guy can do, and now that were entering playoff mode I hope were about to see it! GO DOLPHINS!

I honestly would rather have him fresh and with not a lot of milage on his legs 3-4 years down the road when we could possibly make a push for the super bowl.

You dont have to overwork Ronnie,,, I think when Ronnie touches the ball good things happen for the miami offense. Give Ronnie the ball 15-22 carries,,, Ricky 11-15...

As the possibility of the playoffs becomes more likely the dolphins will need to use the "go to" guys more often. Look for Brown's work load to increase as well as Williams. To reasons this will happen - ball control & clock management as well as a still developing recieve corps. All in all, the phins appear to be peaking at the right time.

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