SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN
A Dolphins six-pack:
### Perhaps Sunday’s 19-carry, 113-yard rushing performance by Lamar Miller will mark a genuine commitment to expand the impending free agent’s workload. And frankly, it should. Here’s why:
Though it’s natural that teams run the ball more when they’re leading, these numbers should not be glossed over: The Dolphins are 17-12 when they give Miller 10 or more carries. They’re 8-16 in all other games since Miami drafted him…
On carries 11 through 20 in his career, Miller has averaged 4.4 per attempt, which is very good and suggests he can handle a heavier workload. In fact, in 2014, his 4.7 average on carries 11 through 20 was sixth-best in the league, ahead of DeMarco Murray, Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch, among others. Also, the Dolphins are 7-5 when Miller has 15 or more carries.
“Every running back needs the ball to get in rhythm so the [extra carries] help,” he said.
The bottom line on Miller: The Dolphins need to give him a consistent workload, because good things often happen when they do and his 4.6 career average (4.4 this year) on exactly 500 career carries is quite good. Consider that among active backs with at least 750 NFL carries, only Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, De’Angelo Williams, Murray and Legarrette Blount have higher career rushing averages than Miller.
### Former defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle believed in reacting to what other teams were doing, instead of trying to dictate to opponents. New coordinator Lou Anurumo’s philosophy is a bit different: He told people he wants to do what the Dolphins do best but disguise more.
One player said he also does a good job putting players in position to make plays; Coyle’s tactics in that regard (such as putting Cam Wake in pass coverage occasionally) were questioned internally.
### Rishard Matthews, who entered this season with 64 catches for 734 yards and four touchdowns in three seasons, is on pace for 74, 1162 and 10 this season. And Matthews, who cleaned out his locker and asked for a trade hours after Miami drafted DeVante Parker, admits he’s somewhat surprised he’s getting this much playing time.
So what changed?
“I’ve always been a bigger, heavier set receiver,” but now “[I’m] quicker getting in and out of breaks.” An impending unrestricted free agent, Matthews said the Dolphins haven’t offered him a new contract.
### Matthews raised eyebrows when he told Jim Rome this week that even when Joe Philbin was here, Campbell “was the guy they placed in front of us to speak to get us motivated and fired up for a game."
And another player said this week that Campbell pops his head into position meetings – just to listen, crack a joke or contribute something substantive --- more than Philbin did. Philbin did that some, but as one Dolphin said, it’s more memorable with Campbell, who’s more dynamic.
During team meetings, Philbin had his assistant coaches speak a lot. Campbell doesn’t do that, according to defensive end Derrick Shelby.
Instead, Campbell speaks and then he has players stand up and speak. For example, a player might explain “why he’s playing well,” Shelby said. “Dan wants the team to run itself. He says good teams have players running themselves.”
Philbin, who has put his Davie home up for sale, has kept a low profile since his firing. Wake said he has been in touch with Philbin and he’s “doing as OK as can be expected” for someone who was fired.
### Two years ago, Dion Jordan played among the fewest snaps of any first-rounder. Last year, Ju’Wuan James played among the most.
What about Parker? Among rookie first-round draft picks who haven’t missed multiple games because of injury, only Minnesota cornerback Trae Waynes (54 snaps), Cleveland offensive lineman Cam Irving (14 snaps) and Arizona offensive tackle DJ Humphries (no snaps) have played less than Parker’s 88 snaps. Of those three, only Waynes – selected 11th --- was drafted before Parker.
### Campbell made one position switch: Chris McCain said he was moved from linebacker back to defensive end. “I can be more free, not think as much,” he said.
Why is he not playing?
“I’d love to get him up, but it’s just hard right now,” Campbell said. “We’re trying to carry more tight ends than we previously had; it’s got to come from somewhere, we’ve had eight D-linemen up. The argument goes back and forth: Is McCain a linebacker? Is he a defensive end? And how would you use him in that game? I would say it’s nothing that he’s done [bad]. He’s done a good job but, it’s just the way it is right now.”
### After being told he would not retain his job as manager, Dan Jennings was set to return to the Marlins offices this past Monday to resume his job as general manager. But president David Samson called Jennings and told him to stay in Alabama and not to report for work just yet, according to multiple sources.
Here’s why: Jennings had some questions about his role and responsibilities and Samson wanted Jennings to discuss this with owner Jeffrey Loria before returning. The Marlins haven’t rescinded their offer for Jennings to return as GM and he and Loria are expected to speak in the coming days.
Loria makes every key decision (starting with the forthcoming pursuit of Don Mattingly), but Jennings might have less influence than before he replaced manager Mike Redmond in May.
The reason: Loria is now listening to more voices: not only president/baseball operations Michael Hill, but also Marc Delpiano (hired in September to run the farm system) and executives Mike Berger and Jeff McAvoy. Because he’s not back to work, Jennings missed the Marlins’ second interview with Larry Bowa, which was attended by several Marlins executives.
### The Marlins’ out of pocket payroll of $68 million, lowest in baseball in 2015, is expected to rise slightly.
### There was a minor Marlins trade today: They acquired minor league right-handed pitcher Richard Mitchell from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for minor-league right-hander Trevor Williams.
Mitchell, 20, is 15-9 with a 3.96 ERA, four saves and a .232 batting average against in 56 games (including 14 starts) over four years in the Dominican Summer League and low-level Gulf Coast League.
“When I can’t [drive to the basket], it’s bye bye D-Wade,” he said. “I’ve always put pressure on the rim. I used to finish over the top. Now I finish underneath over the top, with the ball going over the rim because of my body. Different game but still an effective game.
"Obviously, you always want to add the outside jumper. [But] I love my mid-range game. I love shooting mid-range shots. Some people say it’s a dying breed. Some may say it’s a bad shot. It’s a great shot to me. Give it to me.”
### For a ton of reaction from UM's historic loss today -- both internally and externally -- and Saturday Heat news, please see the last post.
### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz