I've been saying for several weeks the Dolphins have not decided on a starting running back. Yesterday, Joe Philbin said it. And in my column for The Herald's print editions, I detailed how it is that perhaps Daniel Thomas is now ahead of Lamar Miller for the starting job, and how it is Miller hasn't snatched the opportunity that was presented to him.
Mike Sherman, Miami's offensive coordinator, believes if the regular-season started tomorrow, the Dolphins would basically have a platoon system because neither Miller nor Thomas has earned extra carries.
"I think Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas are competing neck and neck," Sherman said. "They both have their strengths. I think their competition has brought out the best of them on most occasions. I'm anxious to see how we play this season. Obviously, I think, if we were playing tomorrow, both guys would get plenty of snaps in the ball game."
So why is this running back competition so important in a pass-first, quarterback driven league?
Well, for the Dolphins, it's important because they want balance in the offense. It's important because the offensive line needs protection from rushers just teeing off, and it's important to help quarterback Ryan Tannehill do his job.
“It’s huge," Tannehill said. "It is a passing league but if you can run the football effectively, it takes so much pressure off a quarterback and an offense in general. If teams know you’re going to throw every down, they can throw their rush at you. They can tee off on our tackles and it kind of limits the deceptiveness of anything you can do. So it’s really important for us. And we’ve done a good job of it so far."
Really? They've done a good job?
I know both Miller and Thomas are averaging 4.1 yards per carry this preseason. But a couple of years ago, Reggie Bush averaged 5.0 yards per carry and last year he was at 4.3 yards per carry and the Dolphins still finished 7-9.
Miami needs to do better than 4.1 yards per carry which is just .1 yards above the traditional league average.
“It could be better, just like the passing game could be better," Tannehill admitted. "But that’s something we’re practicing for. We’re going into preseason week three. It’s not going to be perfect right now. We’re working on it. It will continue to be better.”