The Dolphins had a remarkable turnaround after a 1-4 start but if they want this season to extend in January, there’s one key they have to find again: Jay Ajayi and a punishing ground game.
Although the season began with Ajayi in the doghouse and being left home by first year head coach Adam Gase for the opener in Seattle, he gradually got himself back in good graces. Then, active on the playing field and soon, he had the two most explosive weeks back to back of any running back in the NFL in 15 years. His two- 200 yard games against the Steelers and the Bills put the NFL and future Dolphin opponents on notice.
So that was October. And after he got a third straight 100 yard game the next week against the Jets, he hasn’t had one since.
In fact in the last four Miami games, he hasn’t even gotten to 80 yards rushing and last week in the loss to the Ravens, where admittedly they Fins were behind big early, Ajayi carried the ball only 12 times.
Now, until last week the Dolphins had won three straight of those games, but this is now and the important stretch run.
Starting against the Cardinals Sunday, the Dolphins are in “must win mode” for the AFC playoff picture. And they play two important rematch games with the Jets and the Bills afterwards, both on the road and both in likely cold/bad weather situations. Which means….
You better get back to what worked so well earlier: feeding Ajayi steadily and wearing on the defense. After all, he’s still averaging 5.2 yards per carry on the year.
Gase told the media more than once during their win streak that he was constantly telling his offensive staff, “don’t let me get away from Jay (meaning getting him carries).”
Somewhere recently, the Dolphins have.
The better get him/ground attack back. Or it will be too late soon.