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Run game needs more chances to be explosive

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin wants more explosive runs out of the running game.

“I would like to see a little more explosiveness. We had one explosive run. They all count. I’ve been around the game long enough to know every single run counts. Both sides of the football, you can play great run defense on 25 snaps, but if you give up a 75-yarder or 70-yarder, you are still giving up five-and-a-half yards a run. They all count, but I would like to have a little more consistency in terms of the explosive (plays)," the coach said this week.

"If we can get two to three a game every single game as opposed to none against Cleveland, two against Indy and one (against Atlanta) ... that would be good."

This also would be good:

Run the ball enough to actually get explosive runs.

The Dolphins last week against Atlanta ran the ball 15 times. And two of those were scrambles by quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

So offensive coordinator Mike Sherman called 40 passing plays (five of those turned into sacks) and 13 running plays against the Falcons. That is nearly a 4-1 pass-run ratio. Weeeeee, wide open football time.

The week before, Sherman was a bit more balanced although nowhere near a 60-40 split of pass to run. The Dolphins called 41 pass plays and 22 run plays against the Colts, which is nearly a 2-1 pass-run ratio.

This isn't a critique of the Dolphins offensive balance (or lack of balance) because they pass the football so often. The NFL is, after all, about passing the football. I like that Miami is a passing team. It beats being stuck in the 1970s.

But I also like expectations of the run game to be balanced against the reality of what is happening on the field. One cannot expect more explosive plays when one's offensive coordinator isn't calling very many runs.

If Philbin and the Dolphins are expecting more than one big running play per game and, more specifically, expecting more production from Lamar Miller, the number of opportunities have to go up.

Miller has carried the football 32 times so far this season. He's averaging 4.2 yards per carry. But anyone who watched Miller at the University of Miami knows his typical game would go something like this:

Five-yard gain. Three-yard gain. Four-yard gain. One-yard gain. One-yard loss. Three-yard gain. 55-yard gain. Six-yard gain. And so on.

He would usually deliver a big run in the game and sometimes two. But he needed carries to get there. He needed work and opportunities to break out.

The most Miller has carried the ball for the Dolphins in one game so far? Fourteen times versus Indianapolis. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry that game. His eight carries against Atlanta returned a whopping 7.8 yards per carry average.

Miller averaged more yards per rush (7.8) than the Dolphins averaged passing yards per dropback (5.9). Indeed, he even averaged more yards than quarterback Ryan Tannehill averaged per pass attempt (6.7).

Why does this matter? No, it's not because anyone is pounding on a table demanding Miller carry the ball more often. It's definitely not because anyone wants the Dolphins to become an out-of-step-with-modern-times running team.

It's because running the football often enough to succeed promises so many dividends.

Running the football enough gives you a balanced offense. Suddenly the safeties that cheat toward receivers Mike Wallace or Brian Hartline have to play straight.

"It opens things up for Mike and those guys to stretch the field and make some big plays," offensive tackle Tyson Clabo said.

Running the football enough increases the offense's time of possession. It's hard to win the game when the other team has the football more. The Dolphins did it the past two weeks, but that is tempting fate.

Running the football enough helps your defense. This is particularly important against elite quarterbacks such as Drew Brees. If the Dolphins are able to go into the Superdome Monday night and run the ball effectively enough to keep Brees mostly on the sideline, the chances of giving up more plays to Brees on defense decrease. And that's a good thing for Miami.

Running the football enough helps in cold weather. The running game is not as affected by tough climes as much as the passing game. November and December are coming and teams that can run well have a built-in small advantage. (And when you consider every venue in the AFC East is open to the elements, every little bit helps).

Running the football more helps you to, well, run the football better. The Dolphins need to do it to get better at it.

"I think our run game has gotten better every week," Clabo said. "We were more consistent the week before and last week we had the big run. I think we're working to improve week to week. We just have to do it."

Finally, running the football enough is a weapon in the playoffs. Yes, I said the p-word. The Dolphins are 3-0. Seventy-four percent of teams that start 3-0 make the playoffs. It's not wrong to improve a vital facet of the team now that will be important in the playoffs.

My suggestion on how to maximize the Dolphins running game?

Obviously running it more is a theme here. But splitting the runs more intelligently might be almost as good.

So far this season Miller has carried the ball only nine times more than Daniel Thomas (32-21). The two backs are close to splitting carries. Well, perhaps it's time to not split carries. Thomas is averaging 3.1 yards per gain and his long gain is 12 yards. He's not typically going to come up with a 50- or 60-yard run.

So stop splitting the carries.

Give Miller more carries. Give Thomas fewer carries. Make Thomas the true change-of-pace back rather than a near-equal partner in the backfield. Defer, as the statistics and the eyes suggest, to the better breakaway threat.

"I think we are making some progress," Philbin said. "We certainly have some room to grow.”

Watch the video of Miller below to see what I told you about giving Miller more work:


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What happened to our hurry up offense anyway?

Mondo, great article,I hope that as the season goes on we will become a more balanced team. Coach J.P. is a great improvement on coach T.S. s caveman approach with a hugh fist pump after 3 points.Love the season so far.

Thanks for deleting my comment man...that was awesome...last one I contribute for a while...get 'em somewhere else...

We will run the ball this week effectively!! We need to keep Brees on the sidelines and keep the dome as quiet as possible When Brees is in the game our defense needs to keep him on his butt!!

We got this!!!

We are for real!!

We are gonna have the nation nuzzlin' up on deez nutz!!!

Well, bein that Brees is a bigtime rhythm QB the more that we run it the less likely he has lots of time to get into rhythms during the game. I honestly haven't seen the explosiveness in Saints offense so I expect Miami to keep them in check anyway, but they could still use the run game greatly in road games. It really takes the pressur off Tannehill to feel like he has to di it all and brings less chance of him being sacked and will build confidence in the Oline as well especially if they have success at the run game. It can only help even if we dont have loads of success, at least it'll keep the defense a bit more honest. Dolphins 34-27

I can't answer for anything except for what LV told me, NO favored by 6 over us next Monday. It means they think that the NO team is better than us at this point. Not so last week when LV thought we were better than Atl. And they were right.

The NFL talking heads are praying Dolphins loose so they can say see we told ya so...

if not they all look stupid....

things are different now, we have playmakers now...

and coaches who know how to use talent..

We need to get the ball to Wallace alot!! He is playing in his home state and he is gonna be out for blood!! the phins need to hook a brotha up!

...Actually the line is 6.5...I'm listening to RJ Bell right now. Vegas has no respect for the Phins in this game All the indicators point toward the Saints as far as the Vegas guys. This is a weird one because Vegas guys usually go against the Public..70 percent on the Saints. According the the MGM...They said if you want the Phins wait until Sunday the game should go to Miami +7....

Interesting..That Vegas thinks we are that big of a dog. No worries..Vegas had Indy as a 10 point dog last week. The only difference..The Vegas guys were all on the Colts.

"They all count, but I would like to have a little more consistency in terms of the explosive (plays)," the coach said this week.

Yeah, so would I but the truth is, we don't have a star RB like Adrian Peterson. Without good run blocking, it is what it is.

..Sorry LV Hilton..I wrote MGM...

Hey, who's at the helm of the comments section today at the Herald? They snipped one of my writings and at leat one from Jack!

this, Mando....is an excellent article--right on target, good points, absolutely true--PLUS, an important point (IMO) that I dont think you mentioned is that running the ball effectively reduces the defensive pressure on TH....keeps the defense honest so fewer blitzes....limits the hits/sacks/punishment TH is taking--opens up the offense in general, agree, but also keeps our QB upright/healthy.

It was not even my original, it was from a Marlon Brando movie.


I like those green cane helmets, should break those out more often.

Exactly, who are those Vegas guys? Ahhh, the super-computers.

..Here is a tidbit..All that Pff stuff Armando gets is available to everyone..Heres something for all of you that think Jimmy Wilson will be replaced by one of the rookies soon...According to PFF..Wilson is the second rated slot corner in the wait.....NFL.

Go read it for yourself.

Wallace seems to to like playing on turf, he will be very effective monday.

maybe Jenkins will cover Graham alot in this game.

Dolphins want this game badly, i hope Wake is ok and doesn't hurt his knee any worse because he wants to play and same with Solia

feed Wallace.....good things will happen

No Rdubs, better than home state, PLACE OF BIRTH!!

IT'S ON!! F! N $ @ ₩ AR

..No the Vegas guys are the ones who actually win money on betting these games..The "Sharps"..Trust me. If I knew what I was doing when it came to betting football spreads. Do you think I would live in Montana?? Very few can make a living off this. And there is a reason the LV Hiltons sportsbook(The holy grail of Vegas sports books) is more impressive then the Hotel..why does any go to the LV Hilton? Either Old School Vegas, or to Bet at the Sportsbook. Probably the latter.






Horrible Article Mando,
I got tired of reading articles and comments in your section, about the Dolphins not catching up with the rest of the NFL and becoming a passing team. Now that we have the personnel to do it and we are doing it, you come with this crap. Our only area of concern is pass protection.

Try as I might, I can't *favor* the Fins in this game ... but I will be watching & hoping for an upset.

Hey, you can't have an upset victory without everyone predicting it goes the other way!

Not signing R.Bush was the first red flag, that we were going to throw the ball more. Everyone in the organization knows that D. Thomas is a third tier running back and that L.Miller is not a constant + yards running back, with horrendous blocking skills.

You first have to establish that you can hurt teams with the pass. We have been a run first team forever. The run is much easier to stop than the pass. Once teams take Tannehill seriously, we will be able to run.

Miller is a good back running the ball. He is inconsistent catching it. Other teams see this too. Thomas has performed in the clutch every time. So more Miller has it's price.

If we are ahead we will run the ball. If we are in a close game, let My man Tannehill do his thing. I would rather have the game in his hands than Millers.

If you only knew... No analyst at LV would play a dime on even chances. The true Gambler does not like advantages of any sorts. They manipulate the odds as close to even as possible, then they play strictly against Luck. Some even play at disadvantages while fully aware of them; but those are called crazy.

That highlight reel gave me a woody!!

Mando fails to look at anything but total carriers and average per carry between Thomas and Miller. He is ignoring Field Position and Contect.

Field Position:

Thomas scored a TD last week running the ball. He ran through defenders in the red zone to score the TD. Many people here have commented how easily Miller goes down. I like him. I think he is explosive and I want him to play a lot. But Field Position means a lot when examining the running game and its effectiveness.


Thomas tends to be used for the short 3-1 runs. So, his average is going to be lower than Miller's.

Using them both can be effective. I think the coaches are trying to maximize their strengths.

I am the farthest removed from being a Gambler for x reasons. But I understand the sensuous pleasure of riding Luck for a time before being ridden by Her.

The best way for the Fin's to improve their running game is to change their schemes, play calling and timing.

They have been very predictable during the first three games. Defenses haven't been hard pressed to know when they are passing or running.

When they run they tend to line up with TE on the line and only 2-3 receivers. They should spread the field more to get the Safeties and CB's out of the crowd. The should put the TE in motion to pull a LB out of the crowd.

They don't run many draws in 2nd and 6-8 yard situations. They often keep the back in the backfield for blocking but rarely hand it off on a draw play.

The just "line up and run."

The Saints by 17 points

This game likely leads to a loss...hate saying it but it's true. Home field advantage, high powered offense, elite QB, improved defense, injured Fin's defense....it all adds up to a Fin's loss.

The only way the Fin's likely are to win:

1) Create +2 or +3 turnover differential
2) TD scored by the Fins' defense or special teams
3) Fin's continue their excellent Offensive and Defensive results in the red zone.
4) Miller and Thomas combined for +150 yds
5) Fin's have less than 3 penalities
6) THIll has minimum of: 3 TD's and 0 INT's

These things happen and the Fin's should win. If not, I think they lose by more than 10 points.

Great article Mando. Excellent job.

This team is not put together as a run it down your throat team. It is put together as a finesse team. And I like that!!

When the o-line gets younger and faster we can run the ball or pass. That may be a pipe dream. It is hard to put together a team that has all aspects at the same time.

Everyone KNOWS the PFF stuff is available ... IF YOU PAY FOR IT.

Mando gives it to us for FREE.

Doesn't take a genius to figure out which is better.

Reality Says:

1. Lamar Miller

8 carries 62yds (7.8ypc)

Very deceiving. 49yds of those 62yds are 1 run. 62 - 49 = 13yds. 13 / 7 = 1.9ypc. We'll get back to this 1.9ypc.

2. Daniel Thomas

5 carries 21ds. 6yds came on 1 carry. 21 -6 = 15yds. 15 / 3 = 3ypc.

So, take away Miller's 49yd run and Thomas' long of 6yds. 1.9ypc = 3ypc = 4.9ypc / 2 = 2.45 ypc.

Folks 2.45ypc isn't going to get it. On 1st down that equals: 10yds - 2.45ypc = 7.55yds. So, 2nd down and 7.55yds(8yds) to go is always a passing down.

So where the run game suffers most is on 1st down. Even running 2 consecutive downs at 2.45ypc, it's still 3rd and 5yds for the 1st down.

Yes, you can try to run a little more to create balance and eat clock. But, these numbers state we have to pass the ball. It will be like that until the run game can average 3.5 to 4ypc on 1st downs.

Then we can run more to create more explosive play opportunities. That or Consistently get double-digit or greater leads.

I see all the ESPN "experts" picked against us for Monday Night. You know what that means. 4-0 here we come.

Had a dream lastnight. Fins beat Saints 38-17. Ryan Tannehill threw 3tds passes. Brees was picked off 3 times.

I think I remember we also had either a kickoff or punt return for a td too. We had 1 rushing td and Sturgis kicked a fg.

Remember this Fins 38 Saints 17 score. I actually did dream this.

My math above is flawed. Just caught it.

15 / 4 = 3.45ypc for Thomas. 3.45 + 1.9 = 5.65
5.65 / 2 = 2.8ypc when taking away the 49yd and 6yd runs by Thomas/Miller.

2.8ypc still gets you 2nd and 7, which still needs to greatly improve. We're pretty horrible on 1st down runs.

good point JPAO....context/situations are important and not always reflected in the stats....you see that in numerous cases across the league, especially with WRs, where a WR who is considered average scores more TDs than you'd think.....another who is considered better has impressive stats but doesnt get in the end zone as much--both effective/important, but just depends on the situation and what they're called on to do--true, if D Thomas scores 10 TDs this year but most are short yardage situations, 2-3 yard line, so be it....scoring TDs but hurting his avg yards/carry--which is more important?

"coach T.S. s caveman approach with a hugh fist pump after 3 points."

That's some funny stuff JR, sad but true! Good one. :)

You know that this running thing sounds real good. But as Sam I am stated, if we aren't getting anything on first down save for 2 yards, it is stupid.
You run just as much time off the clock with short dump passes and you also control the game. And you often get 5 or 6 yards instead of 2 or 3.
Hopefully the running game picks up. But it doesn't matter if we are successful in the air and it seems to me it is a lot harder to defend all of the schemes in the passing game than it is to stop a run up the middle. I still see us running the R&R express on a Monday night and we ran like 250 yards and kicked 5 fist pumps. And lost. One of the most retarded games I have ever watched.

Anyone who read or bought the story about Brent Grimes wife, shame on you. I don't know who wrote it but I wish things like this didn't get publicity. It's right on the top page of the site too. I can't believe some people actually care about what players wives are writing on twitter.

So offensive coordinator Mike Sherman called 40 passing plays (five of those turned into sacks) and 13 running plays against the Falcons. That is nearly a 4-1 pass-run ratio. Weeeeee, wide open football time.

Armando S.

Lol, Mando weren't you leading the way on the whole "they need more passing plays, need to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers" the past 4 years. You got it, they're a passing team now. And you're complaining they don't run enough now? Hahaha

Two years ago they were splitting the run and pass pretty evenly and that's right when you said they need to catch up to the rest of the league because everyone else is passing. So are you now saying they should stop doing what you wanted them to do and go back to a 50/50 offense? Confusing!

Sorry Mando, I stopped reading after that paragraph and took it out of context. Just realized that when I read the rest of the story. My bad, putting myself in timeout.

Run game needs more chances to be explosive

D Thomas doesnt belong in the NFL. 3 draft choices WASTED!!

when it comes to our running game, i believe sherman's hands our tied. on 1st downs are chances for success are minimal, defenses are more geared towards stopping the run on this down then any other, secondly, our offensive line has been finding it difficult to open the running lanes as of yet. 3rd down presents the most oppourtinty with defenses geared towards defending the pass but...given our heady conversion rate PASSING on third down as compared to our miniscual run game, you would simply have to ask yourself "WHY". i guess if sherm really wanted to run the ball, 2nd down would offer the best possible scenario, but then again, if i could forecast miam's running down with high probability...then you can bet the saints have figured the same....

Sorry Mando, I stopped reading after that paragraph and took it out of context. Just realized that when I read the rest of the story. My bad, putting myself in timeout.

Posted by: Phins78 | September 27, 2013 at 02:57 PM


Kindry, exactly. If you average 2pc on 1st down, you damn had better average 5ypc on 2nd downs. Then you're down to 3rd 3. 3rd and 3 or less, opens up the entire playbook and keeps the defense on it's heels.

Like you said, really isn't about running, it's about chewing up clock and moving the ball. A short controlled passing game can accomplish this too.

As a oc, it's very tough to call a 2nd down run play with consistent 2ypc's on 1st down.

Hey Mando, you can only rush the ball so many times if it only alots you three plays per drive. Want to keep putting the ball in Tanne's hands on third down? He's responded well so far, but that's a high pressure scenario to repeat over and over again for a young QB. It's great that we might eventually get a big run out of Miller if we keep giving him the ball, but right now, I'll take the wins.

Ross was too cheap to pay Reggie Bush so the run game sux.

I hope the defense can figure out a way to at least contain TE's,Graham is a beast,and Brees looks for him constantly.

Its hard to run thr ball when tbe defense knows the snap count. Can we switch it up from 48! GO! GO!??

When Irescum traded 3 draft picks for D Thomas the entire draft room broke out in hysterical laughter!

our running backs have issues...between hitting the gaps and BLOCKING!!! Tanny getting smacked around because we're not low blocking blitzing linebackers. Get dirty boys....it won't hurt, besides YOU GETTIN PAID FOR IT!

That highlight reel gave me a woody!!

Posted by: BANE | September 27, 2013 at 01:41 PM

You Too........? I thought I was the ONLY one ;)

Sorry, but I still think Lamar Miller is an Awesome Running Back! I see Thurman Thomas with better speed.

Miller, like Thomas, sees the angles and instinctively knows how to set up his own blocks in the second level. He almost always takes the right angles.

The KEY to the whole thing is **GETTING HIM TOO THE SECOND LEVEL**. This of course lies at the feet of the O-Lineman. With just a little bit better Line play, Miller can make defenses PAY!

Mark my words, Miller will be a star one way or another. Either on another team, or hopefully here with better line play.

Miller's The Real Deal!!!!

C'Mon O-Line!!!!

Hey Sam I Am, you know what an AVERAGE is?

It is the compilation of everything -- including the long runs and the short runs. That doesn't mean the long run has less value.

I doubt you dismissed Tannehill's 67 yard pass to Charles Clay in the first game and said he stunk the rest of the game because most of his other passes only went for 5-10 yards, right?

All the yards count. All the yards matter.

Moreover, it Miller had a 49 yard run in 8 carries, you should absolutely give him more opportunities because that's saying he's going to get another big run in the next 8-10 runs.

That's why we sports teams rely on averages.

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