Despite all the uproar it created, it’s almost impossible to say right now that their controversial decision to trade running back Jay Ajayi didn’t make the Dolphins a better football team.
At the very least it has made them a better offensive football team.
When the Dolphins traded Ajayi to the Eagles after dropping a humiliating 40-0 decision to the Ravens just before Halloween, their offense was scoring an average of just 12.1 points per game.
In the five games they have played since then the Dolphins have yet to score anything less than 17 points in a game and their offense alone through that stretch has scored an average of 19.8 points per game.
That’s more than a touchdown’s worth of improvement and a big part of the boost has come from the area where the Dolphins subtracted what was easily one of the most talented players on the team.
We suggested shortly after the trade was made that this addition-by-subtraction phenomenon might take place and a look at how the running game has produced in the weeks since the trade occurred suggests it has.
Prior to letting go of Ajayi, who had started complaining a bit too much and a bit too loudly for a player who wasn’t buying into coach Adam Gase’s system, the Dolphins were averaging 77.8 yards per game on the ground.
They have run for an average of 96.2 yards per game in the five games since and that despite Gase’s decision to de-emphasize the running game and lean more on his backs as pass catchers.
The boost in due in great part, of course, to the fact the Dolphins have gotten some breakaway runs out of Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams, but those runs have been sparked by better play up front.
Gase said a few weeks back, after blasting his entire offense for what her perceived as a lack of commitment, that his offensive linemen had finally started doing their homework. Indeed, it seems they have.
ESPN analyst KC Joyner, who studies running attacks in great detail, told the Miami Herald this week that the Dolphins run blocking has improved markedly since the Ajayi trade.
Per Joyner, who has come up with a system to determine just how effective a team’s run blocking really is, the Dolphins line had 31.5-percent “Good Blocking Rate’’ through its first seven games.
Since then (though not including the grade it received last week againt the Broncos because that had not been calculated yet) their GBR as Joyner refers to it stands at 36.3-percent.
Now, that is still well below the league average of 41.4-percent, but it’s clearly a step in the right direction and there’s reason to believe the trend could continue to move in that positive direction.
Though they’ve lost right tackle Ja’Wuan James for the rest of the year, the Dolphins have Ted Larsen back at left guard. Meanwhile, they’ve been getting solid play from right guard Jesse Davis and right tackle Sam Young as well.
That has all helped to spark an offense that has simply performed at a much higher rate than it was earlier in the year, and whether it’s due to the dismissal of Ajayi or not really doesn’t matter.
The bottom line is that the Dolphins are finally starting to move the ball and score the way they were supposed to and while it’s too little too late to save this season, you simply can’t knock progress.
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