Even though the running back position in general and run games as a philosophy have been de-emphasized in the 2010s NFL, you still obviously have to have some balance on offense. And just as importantly, you must have some option of handing off to attain short-yardage success, too.
With all of that understood, former Jaguars back turned NFL network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew recently published his ranking of all 32 NFL teams Run games.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) June 22, 2019
And whether you’re talking about the Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott, the Giants and Saquon Barkley or the Rams and Todd Gurley, obviously there are teams that have explosive big playbacks featuring them.
However, once you get towards the bottom of his listing, you start to run out of impact running backs for the teams whose Run games have suffered recently
Along those lines, after a disappointing second season Jones-Drew marked down his former franchise, the Jaguars, and star running back Leonard Fournette. Fournette was a mess of injury and off the field issues last year. And, The Jags came in at only 16th on his list with his analysis:
Bringing in Nick Foles will definitely help the Jaguars offensively, but the team is also going to need a bounce-back year from Fournette. He was about half as productive as he was in 2017, the season in which the team was a win away from the Super Bowl. He must return to rookie form. To do so, Fournette needs to dedicate his time to getting his body right. Being in great health doesn’t just happen overnight; the work starts long before Week 1.
And then Jones-Drew listed numerous teams who’ve struggled and you had to get all the way to the end of his list find the Dolphins and the Buccaneers.
In both of their cases they’re relying on young back fields with now first-year coach is taking over trying to get used to them.
In Miami it will be Kenyan Drake now as the primary ball carrier, but they do have second year back Kalen Ballage and drafted Washington’s Myles Gaskin to compliment and compete with him this year. And, while Jones-Drew acknowledged that Drake has some potential, he still listed the Fins unit, as a lowly 31st saying:
Drake is an explosive player and eclipsed 1,000 yards from scrimmage last season, but he’s never been a consistent, every-down back, which is why he doesn’t rate higher here. Plus, I’m not quite sure what this Dolphins offense will look like with head coach Brian Flores and offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea, who both came from New England, at the helm. O’Shea was the Patriots’ wide receivers coach for a decade, so I’m wondering how similar (or different) Miami’s offense will be to the Pats’?
Finally, Jones-Drew saved his worst for last, and yes, that’s the Buccaneers. With former undrafted back Peyton Barber returning as the primary ball carrier, but last year’s second round pick, Ronald Jones, slated to challenge, MJD is unimpressed:
The Bucs’ ground game struggled in 2018, ranking 29th in the league, and was led by Peyton Barber. Barber was re-signed to a one-year deal this offseason, but I expect Jones to emerge as the team’s top back in 2019 because, well, he wasn’t drafted 38th overall in ’18 for no reason. He was a healthy scratch for the first three games of last season and then was sidelined by a hamstring injury later on, but he has the opportunity to re-write his NFL story this season in a new offense under Bruce Arians.
Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa present to start NFL combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is getting underway in Indianapolis this week and on Monday morning, one of the prized quarterbacks that will be available early in the first round of the draft was there for official measurements and to meet with teams.
Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, whose season ended with a fractured hip last November, is on the road to recovery and he was officially measured and also, met with numerous teams that are looking at the possibility of drafting him:
Tua Tagovailoa measured at 6-0, 217 pounds at the NFL combine today. Left throwing hand at 10”
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) February 24, 2020
In addition to not only the injured hip, but also a history of high ankle sprain problems, Tagovailoa has got to answer critics on his size. At just 6 – 0 feet there will be concerns about his ability to clearly see downfield through the massive bodies on NFL Sundays.
However, this can be combated by moving him around out of the pocket and that’s something that Alabama was successful at doing over his three years as well.
As we wrote recently, Tagovailoa was injured in Alabama’s 10th game of the season suffering a fractured hip on a sack late in the first half at Mississippi State. He missed the Tide’s final two regular-season games and then, their Citrus Bowl win January 1st, over Michigan
He came to Alabama from Hawaii and the same high school as Marcus Mariota, having thrown for over 8,000 yards which at that time was a Hawaii High School record. And, he had a career of 84 passing and 27 rushing touchdowns in three seasons.
Tua burst onto the scene nationally, when he relieved Jalen Hurts in the second half and overtime of Alabama’s thrilling title game win over Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship Game. Tagovailoa threw the game-winning touchdown pass on the first overtime possession, as Alabama celebrated their fifth National Title in nine seasons under Saban.
In his second season at the helm in the 2018 regular season, Tagovailoa was named second-team AP All-American and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, as the Tide reached the National Title game, again, before being beaten soundly by Clemson 12 months ago.
As this junior season unfolded, Tagovailoa was named almost became synonymous with the Dolphins, who started the season horribly at 0 – 7 and the moniker “Tank for Tua” began to gain momentum in South Florida.
Tagovailoa is obviously on the Dolphins list to look at strongly to select in the top five in the draft and currently, Miami is slated to pick fifth.
It is expected that Tagovailoa will work out for teams probably later in March or maybe even, early April at the Tide’s facility in Tuscaloosa, prior to the NFL draft coming to Las Vegas.
Colorado announced hire of Dolphins assistant Dorrel Sunday
Former UCLA coach and recently promoted Dolphins assistant Karl Dorrell is headed back to college, as the new head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes.
The school confirmed Dorrell’s hire on Sunday evening with a five-year contract to take over their Big 12 program:
We'd like to officially introduce you to our new HC, Karl Dorrell.
— Colorado Buffaloes Football (@CUBuffsFootball) February 23, 2020
The Buffaloes have been seeking a head coach since there coach Mel Tucker abruptly left to take the Michigan State job earlier this month.
Dorrell came to the dolphins with Brian Flores this past season, as wide receiver coach and earlier last week was promoted to assistant head coach for the upcoming season. Miami’s top receiver, DeVante Parker, blossomed under Dorrell’s tutelage as the year went on. He finished the season with 72 catches for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns becoming the favorite target of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Dorrel is the latest Dolphins assistant on the move. Flores fired the offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea he brought with him from New England. And, his defensive coordinator Patrick Graham left to take the same job with the Giants.
Dorrell had also been the Dolphins receivers coach, previously from 2008 – 10 and then, their quarterbacks coach in 2011 under the late Tony Sparano.
“I am excited that Karl Dorrell has agreed to become our head football coach,” George said. “Karl has had great success as a college coach, both as a head coach and an assistant, and he knows the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast well. It was important that our next coach have CU ties, and Karl has those ties having worked at CU twice previously. Karl shares my passion for Colorado and our vision for winning championships. He will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our student-athletes, and he will provide great leadership for our program going forward.”
The CU Board of Regents still have to approve Dorrell’s contract, which will be $18 million for five seasons.
Dorrell had previously been on Colorado staffs two other times in his career, including most recently as offensive coordinator under Rick Neuheisel from 1995- 98.
Dorrell was named head coach of his alma mater UCLA in 2003, where he lasted five seasons and went to a bowl game every year finishing with a career 35 – 27 record before being fired after the 2007 season.
Dorrell had previously been receivers coach for the New York Jets 2015 – 18 under Todd Bowles (above) and two of his receivers had made the Pro Bowl during his time there.
Colorado picked Dorrell from an interview process that also included former Buffaloes player and Kansas City Super Bowl offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, who interviewed and was under strong consideration.