There it was last night. As part of the Eagles Sunday night 38-7 NFC Championship Game demolition of the Vikings, RB Jay Ajayi was making impact plays for his new team.
And now, he’s headed to Super Bowl LII.
This image from Philadelphia locker room says it all:
? chugging along pic.twitter.com/1MPt6P45Gs
— Chris Fischer NBC6 (@FischerNBC6) January 22, 2018
And, if you cup your ear towards South Florida, there will be some, on the radio, the internet, etc. who will suggest that the Dolphins should have never gotten rid of Ajayi.
And, they would be wrong.
Yes, Ajayi has had two mostly solid performances in Philly’s playoff wins over the Falcons (he had a critical fumble early also) and now, the Vikings. And, in particular he showed the speed and acceleration that Dolphins fans were wowed by in 2016.
His stats in the games? 33 carries 127 yards rushing and six catches for 70 yards receiving and zero TDs.
While solid, none of that is spectacular. Or, irreplaceable.
And, most importantly, let’s not revise history on why Miami was so eager to part with Ajayi during the season.
Remember, the October Thursday night 40-0 destruction the Ravens put on the Dolphins? How about, the day after when coach Adam Gase lit into his offense in general, but also into Ajayi specifically, without actually saying his name?
As we wrote then, Gase was critical of his work ethic, his lack of desire to help/get better with pass blocking and also, his lack of patience in running through the line while trying to run every run into a 60, 70 yarder.
It’s not a coincidence that three days later, Ajayi was headed to Philadelphia.
Gase also knew that he had young backs Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams, who were both better blockers, and better pass catchers to help the offense run better with QB Jay Cutler at the helm.
Drake ended up running for 600+ yards, including two 100 yard games, over the last nine games of the year after the trade. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry and he also caught 29 passes for 236 yards after the trade of Ajayi. Solid production in replacement.
Williams was effective for a couple of games before suffering a shoulder injury that basically wiped out the last six weeks of his season.
Look, no one is going to say that Gase and the Fins had a tremendous back waiting in the wings to replace Ajayi and be the top ball carrier for the next four to six years in Miami.
That’s not Drake or Williams.
And, Miami will look strongly in free agency and also in the upcoming Draft, where they are picking 11th to address whom that future back might be.
Now, you might want to argue that Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier should have gotten more than a conditional fourth round pick for Ajayi back in October.
That’s a different argument and has merit.
But also, remember the Dolphins offense was terrible, their season was going nowhere and their coach had publicly put Ajayi on blast, including questioning his work ethic. Add all that to medical reports that say Ajayi’s knee has chronic soreness that has effected him, even in Philadelphia, with being able to practice all the time, and they got what they got in the trade.
Yes, Ajayi is living a dream and playing in the Super Bowl.
And yes, the Dolphins had decided he wasn’t their future and wasn’t worth the headaches anymore.
There quest to find that guy in Miami is underway, again.
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