Lamar Miller gets second chance to lead Dolphins running game
By DAN BERNSTEIN
College Contributor Network
The Miami Dolphins are 3-3, which is right in line with how they've performed over the past five seasons. Since 2009, Miami's record is 37-48. There have been plenty of reasons for the Dolphins' mediocrity, and a subpar running game has been just one of many frustrating themes.
The Dolphins have been solid on defense almost every year since their last winning season, but haven't complimented that with a solid ground attack. The running back position has been a revolving door for Miami since Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown electrified the league in 2009, and the lack of stability has continued into this campaign.
Over the previous four seasons, Miami has been below average in terms of rushing efficiency, and that combined with inconsistent quarterback play has led to offensive struggles. Last week news broke that Knowshon Moreno, who was expected to greatly improve the Dolphins' ground game this year, will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
So now the Dolphins turn to Lamar Miller with the hope that he can resurrect their rushing attack and offense. This isn't the first time Miller has been given the keys to the running game -- last season he started 15 games -- but his past efforts have left many disappointed.
Miller was drafted out of the University of Miami in the fourth round of the 2012 draft after accumulating over 1,300 total yards during a fantastic junior season in college. His blend of speed and vision as well as an impressive 4.40 40-yard dash time in the pre-draft combine convinced the Dolphins to draft him as a high upside prospect.
However, Miller has yet to meet his potential in the NFL. There have been glimpses of his ability, but he hasn't played at consistently high level and has only once rushed for over 70 yards in consecutive games. Furthermore, he's already fumbled the ball three times this season including once at the goal line.
Nonetheless, there's reason to believe that Miller, still only 23 years old, can take advantage of his second chance as the Dolphins lead back. Going into Sunday's game against the Bears, he was averaging 5.2 yards per carry and displayed some of the explosiveness that made him so intriguing out of college. He's also become more of a factor in the passing game and is on pace to nearly double his catch total from last season.
Against the Bears' run defense that ranks 19th in the league in terms of YPC, Miller carried the ball 18 times for 61 yards (only good for 3.38 yards per carry), but chipped in with a goal line touchdown and two catches out of the backfield. Facing a miserable Jaguars team next week, Miller will never have a better chance to stake his claim as Miami's go-to running back.
Dan Bernstein is a freshman at the University of Maryland. He is romantic about the Oakland Coliseum (where he grew up) and Anfield (where he's never been). Follow him on Twitter: @danbernsteinUMD