My column in Saturday's Miami Herald explains why the Miami Dolphins are not worried about their so-far anemic running game even though the statistics and other issues suggest they have problems.
Coach Adam Gase has been quite confident the running game will be much more than it has been the first two weeks of the season and he explains his reasoning. One thing that was only partially covered in the column was the loss of oft-injured running back Arian Foster for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns.
While Gase hates losing his best runner, he sees the injury as an opportunity.
"Anytime you lose a guy for a game that guys respect a lot for what we do in the running game, you always rather have him," Gase told me. "But when you also have a bunch of young guys that are hungry and want to play. That gives you a great opportunity. too, because now you're putting these guys in a position of 'Show me what you got. What are you going to do to help us get better?'
"And I feel like these guys are all chomping at the bit and saying, 'Give me the ball, I'll show you what I can do.' That's exciting for me. They want to contribute. They love ball. And one of those guys will get a chance."
Obviously the Dolphins have a choice about who is going to get the football.
Gase said this week no one should be surprised if all four are active for the game.
The conventional wisdom says just give it to Ajayi because he's supposed to be the next guy up and spell him with the other guys. I don't adhere to conventional thinking.
I like Drake. He's explosive. And he's ready.
"The game has started to slow down for me," he told me this week.
Obviously, I don't get a vote. But I have eyes. I saw Ajayi fumble last week. I think Williams is a solid special teams player and good pass protector but he's a 3 yard per carry guy in the NFL. Pead hasn't been active all season.
Drake should lead the charge of running backs on Sunday.
More than one guy, however, will get his chance.
Another thing I mentioned in the column is the fact the Dolphins are playing without their best run blocker in Mike Pouncey. It's not my opinion that Pouncey is Miami's best run blocker. That comes directly from offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen -- who was forced under threat of really mean words written about him (not really) -- to pick one of his guys.
“Who is the best run blocker up front? I don’t know that because we ask them to do all different things," Christensen said mulling my question. "Who is the best run blocker on double teams? Who is the best run blocker pulling? Who is the best run blocker on base blocks? They all kind of have some different strengths. They’re all asked to do different things.
"We ask the center to reach nose guards and the tackles may have down blocks. I don’t know. I’d have a hard time answering that. Pouncey I think is the best at his position in the whole league. When he is healthy, I don’t think anybody does it like Pouncey. If you pin me down and said, ‘Hey, by position, where are they rated?’ I’d probably say Pouncey is the best run-blocking center in the league, or certainly one of the top three or four in the upper echelon. But it’s hard to say because we ask them to do different things.
"Who (are) they (going) against? Some weeks you’re going against a guy who is extremely difficult. The nose guard this week will be a hard guy to block. (Anthony) Steen will have his hands full with him.”