Lost in the overwhelming interest in Jay Cutler’s second preseason start for the Dolphins is one of the real keys to their upcoming season, Jay Ajayi and Miami’s ability to run the football.
Ajayi, who burst on the scene in 2016 with back to back 200 yard games on the ground, is critical to how much success the Fins will have throughout this season. And, despite missing time earlier this preseason with a concussion, against the Eagles Thursday he showed exactly what he and the run game can do:
— NFL (@NFL) August 24, 2017
Ajayi finished with 53 yards on nine carries and did score two TDs on short runs in the first half, as the Dolphins first team hung in with the Eagles. One of the things that has Dolphins fans so encouraged, is you see in that him running through and/or over defenders.
A year ago, Ajayi led the NFL in yards averaged after initial contact with 3.46. And, then you consider this stat about how and where, he did serious damage a year ago:
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 12, 2017
When you remember that Ajayi didn’t play in the first game due disciplinary reasons and shared carries with Arian Foster until Foster abruptly retired in October, it’s even more impressive that he lead that list.
Ajayi and the Dolphins run scheme will be more scrutinized and schemed against by opposing defenses this season, but, that’s where having a veteran like Cutler to take advantage of opponents crowding the line will come into play.
Cutler will be able to change out of plays in some instances or, the Phins can utilize play action to attack vertically with players like Kenny Stills and Devante Parker on the outside.
All of that comes back to Ajayi, and while it was a preseason game against Philly, Miami definitely established the run. And, whether you root for the Dolphins or are contemplating drafting him for fantasy football purposes, that bodes well for the start to the season.