The Tennessee Titans are 30th in the NFL against the run. They are a dam with a lot of leaks, folks.
So it stands to reason that this week presents a wonderful opportunity for the Dolphins to get their limping running game -- which hasn't really stepped up recently after a fast start -- to get going again.
If the Dolphins cannot run up the yardage against the Titans, I would not expect them to do so against teams such as San Francisco (No. 5 against the run) or New England (No. 7) later this year. I would say that the first few games were something of a mirage and the truth is Miami's running game is mediocre.
But no one wants to come to that conclusion, least of all the Dolphins, so my understanding is the game plan is to run as much as Mike Sherman's pass-first orientation will allow. And my understanding is also that nothing much is expected to change with the Dolphins attack in that Reggie Bush is expected to get most of the carries and Daniel Thomas will get the rest.
So allow me to give three suggestions to improve the Miami running game -- not only this game but beyond.
1. Ask Ryan Tannehill to run more. Yes, Tannehill is just returning to health after being hobbled by a knee injury last week. But he is healthy. He is athletic, as the fact he played receiver in college proves. And he is fairly big and strong and fast (4.6s in the 40). Use that athleticism! Andrew Luck scored two rushing TDs last night. Robert Griffin III has an 80-yard run this year.
Coaches should make it plain to Tannehill that it is OK to run as long as the run finishes out of bounds or with a slide. Tannehill has not taken advantage of his running skills this year. He's run only 19 times for 24 yards (1.9 yard per rush average). It would be demoralizing to the defense to see the QB pick up first downs rushing the ball.
2. More Lamar Miller, please. I know that Miller isn't getting more playing time because the club is concerned about his blitz pickup and overall pass protection. He's also not 100 percent on his playbook.
But can't the Dolphins find three plays Miller knows and don't involve passing and put the kid in and let him explode? Miller was a 60-yard run waiting to happen in college. He leads all Miami runners with a 5.5 yard per carry average on 24 totes this year. He's explosive. He's a weapon. Give him a chance!
3. Throw in some Wildcat plays at people. Yeah, I know, I'm crazy. The Wildcat is very 2008. Nobody really runs it a ton anymore. But remember that Wildcat's purpose -- aside from surprising the opponent -- is to win a battle of numbers.
Simply, the Wildcat scheme puts as many blockers as defenders into the running play. It puts one more blocker into the play than the conventional running play. That's been one of the Dolphins' problem lately. Teams are stacking the tackle box with eight defenders to outnumber Miami at the line of scrimmage.
OK, then. Raise the stakes! Add a blocker. Let Reggie Bush run away from or Daniel Thomas run over somebody. Yes, it would put Tannehill at receiver for a play. Guess what? He's played WR in college. And as surprises go, this would be one, at least for a down or two.