Kenyan Drake looked every bit the part of a feature back during the Dolphins 35-9 victory over the Broncos last week, running 23 times for 120 yards and a touchdown.
There’s a good chance, though, that as long as Adam Gase is coaching the Dolphins, Drake never settles into that every-down role. Not because he doesn’t suit the role. But because the role doesn’t suit Gase.
It turns out that there’s more behind Gase’s decision to not only dump former feature back Jay Ajayi, but to use Drake and Damien Williams in tandem as Ajayi’s replacement than Gase originally let on.
Gase said initially that he planned to split the carries between Drake and Williams because neither was accustomed to working every down and that he feared fatigue would become an issue if one of them did.
That’s a valid reason and it makes sense, at least in the short term, to use both players evenly, but Gase has another reason for using the duo as he has that far overrides his concern about their fitness.
Put quite simply, Gase just isn’t a feature back kind of guy. Though plenty of other coaches like to use a feature backs and use them rather well, Gase prefers a completely different approach.
“I don’t know if I’m every going to have a feature-back situation,’’ Gase said recently. “I like using multiple guys. I like guys moving in and out and I like having guys that can do multiple things.
“I like to have guys in there who can really put pressure on the defense to the point where (the defense) can’t focus on just one thing. So, I don’t know, we might be out of that game.’’
That’s not the only game the Dolphins may be out of. They would appear to be out of the game in terms of looking for a new lead back in free agency or the draft as well.
For many, the trade of Ajayi immediately put running back at or near the top of the Dolphins list of offseason needs. But that need won’t be so great if the Dolphins don’t plan to use that back as a workhorse.
Given what it seems Gase wants in a back, which seeming amounts to yet another third-down, change-of-pace type, the Dolphins could wait until the second phase of free agency or the third day of the draft to find that.
And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. The Dolphins may not have a lot of money to play with in free agency anyway this year and if they can wait until late in the draft to add a running back.
That will allow them to use their premium picks on other, obviously more important positions and given the change in emphasis on the run game that would probably be the best approach.
Dolphins got contributions everywhere in Sunday win
There were a lot of questions and plenty of reasons to doubt the Dolphins roster makeup, as 2018 was getting underway.
However, two games in, the Fins have been impressive, and earned their way to an unbeaten start. Their latest effort Sunday at The Meadowlands against AFC East rival Jets saw numerous players new and old step up.
Whether it was TJ McDonald’s early interception of New York rookie QB Sam Darnold, or Kenyan Drake weaving through the Jets front seven for the early score a short time later, Miami set the tone.
And then, when Kiko Alonso knocked the ball free from Jets receiver Robby Anderson and Raekwon McMillan recovered it, it was new free agent receiver Albert Wilson capitalizing here:
Can't catch @iThinkIsee12
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 16, 2018
It went for a 29-yard touchdown from QB Ryan Tannehill and Miami had command at that point at 14-0.
Tannehill spread the ball around to seven different receivers, and even found reserve A.J. Derby for a 19 yard touchdown, as the lead ballooned to 20-0 nothing.
Darnold ended with some decent yardage and a couple of second-half touchdowns, but the Dolphins registered four sacks and had three total takeaways to help put this one away.
Even ageless veteran Frank Gore got into the act. This as, the 35 year old moved into fourth place on NFL all-time rushing list trailing only Hall of Famers Barry Sanders Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith.
And late in the game caught a dump off pass from Tannehill and weaved through the Jet defense to pick up 3rd and 19, move the chains and allow Miami to run the clock out.
So the 2018 Dolphins don’t have Jay Cutler, Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh and some of the others from a team that struggled last year.
However, their new faces stepped in and stepped up Sunday on the road.
And Miami is now 2 – 0 for the first time since 2013, and in sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
Gameday- Dolphins renew rivalry with Jets in New York
Who: Dolphins (1-0) at Jets (1-0)
Where: Met Life Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
When: Sunday 1 p.m.
Spread: Jets by 2.5 (Courtesy Vegasinsidercom)
Renewal of the Rivalry
There are no longer names like Shula, Namath and Marino, but the storied rivalry of the Dolphins and the Jets is five decades old. As AFC East Rivals since the early 1970’s, these teams and fan bases are familiar with each other for generations. Yes, grandads, dads and in some cases, great granddads have watched these two play. The Jets hold a 54-50-1 record all time, and that includes a decisive win in the Meadowlands last year. The Fins, however, won the rematch (Cutler at the helm) later in the year at Hard Rock Stadium.
Now, they play right away in 2018 and the winner maintains at least a tie for first in the division.
Tannehill looks to build on week one
It was a bizarre game last Sunday in the opener with Tennessee, as there were two lightning delays that lasted more than 3 1/2 hours. So, it’s tough to judge everything completely. However, QB Ryan Tannehill, off his ACL tear last August, was effective for a lot of the game (despite two picks) finishing 20-28 for 230 yards and two TDs. One was a second half 75 yard bomb to WR Kenny Stills as the Dolphins prevailed 27-20.
Will the Jets 3-4 defense be able to rattle him? Will Tannehill handle the pressure and be accurate. It’s not the only key, but a big one for the Fins.
Finally, will the Jets look like they did Monday night?
In a remarkable win on the road on Monday night, rookie Sam Darnold overcame a pick six TD in the first :20 of his NFL career to play effectively in the blowout win over the Lions. Darnold who was 16-21 with two TDs, will have to be solid in this one for the Jets.
The Dolphins pass rush led by Robert Quinn and Cam Wake will try to fluster him and create those bad throws from the USC rookie.
The Jets defense and special teams came up with big plays also against Detroit, as they pulled away in the second half for a 48-17 win. That included an interception and punt return TD in the second half.
Miami will need to keep the Jets from making the big play Sunday.
Report- Dolphins OL Josh Sitton out for season
The injury news is not good to wake up to on a Friday morning for Dolphins fans. Offensive lineman Josh Sitton will miss the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury, according to a report.
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald had the story first that Sitton, who missed practice this week with a shoulder injury, is going on injured reserve:
EXCLUSIVE…Key Miami Dolphins starter is out for the remainder of the season. What it meanshttps://t.co/Zox57wnlHP
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) September 14, 2018
Salguero wrote, that Sitton actually tore his rotator cuff at some point during the playing of the second half of Sunday’s game with Tennessee. Yet, the 11 year veteran continued to play through it. Further, Sitton had been exploring the option of continuing to play with the injury in the short term this week, etc. However, he was advised that if the shoulder was damaged more, that surgery might not be able to repair it and it would end his career.
Sitton is a four-time Pro Bowler who was originally drafted by Green Bay, but was signed by the Dolphins away from the Chicago Bears this past offseason. He was playing in the offense of then Bears, now Dolphins coordinator Dowell Loggains. And it made him attractive to sign by Miami in March.
Loggains told the media Thursday that Sitton’s injury and possible absence for this week’s game against the Jets creates a problem,
“Does it change things? Absolutely. If you didn’t have someone at any position, you look to (say), ‘How is this matchup going to affect us in the game?’”
Sitton, who had started 137 games in his career coming into this season, had also been a mentor to former #1 pick left tackle Laremy Tunsil.
Miami will now go to veteran journeyman guard Ted Larsen, who started eight games over the last couple of seasons for the Dolphins ,but has also battled nagging injuries throughout his career.
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