Going into 2020 there were some questions that both the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Rams had to answer for their respective offenses.
For the Dolphins it seems as if they have been searching for a running back for the longest time. They have seen their fair share of successful running backs come and go all the way from the 1970s from the great Larry Csonka to the late 1990s and early 2000s with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. But, as of late, the bus has been rolling in backs but not shipping out any greats.
For LA, after losing RB Todd Gurley in the offseason to the Atlanta Falcons the Rams knew they would have to find someone to replace his productivity. LA spent its second round NFL draft pick on Florida State University RB Cam Akers with hoping to use him as the replacement. However, he’s currently third on the depth chart behind committee partners Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown.
Henderson Leads LA Through Seven Games
Through seven games Henderson leads the team in rushing attempts with 72 and has a team-high 348 rushing yards. He also has a team-high three rushing scores. While fifth-year committee partner Brown is second on the team with two rushing TDs and tied with quarterback Jared Goff in that department. As a team the Rams have rushed for 811 yards on 188 carries and nine combined rushing TDs.
Gaskin Leads Miami Through Six Games
The Dolphins are still looking for a player to take over as the top leader for the RB position officially, but all signs are pointing to head coach Brian Flores officially saying it’s going to be Myles Gaskin. The 2019 seventh-round draft pick has taken over starting duties in the last few weeks and has 82 carries this season for 340 yards accompanied by one rushing score.
Offseason Acquisitions Howard, Breida: Disappointments
Breida has only 33 carries and 115 rushing yards, featuring as mainly the team’s pass-catching back, but has just 79 yards through the air in that department.
Howard has done even less despite his team-leading three rushing scores. Those scores came in the first three games when he was the starting rusher, but has since been a healthy scratch in the Dolphins’ last two games. He has just 18 carries for 14 yards this season and neither trend seems to be stopping soon as he has fallen to No. 5 on Miami’s RB depth chart.
Will Tagovailoa Step Up in Fitzpatrick’s Rushing Cleats?
Former starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has also helped in the run game, currently sitting second on the team with 135 yards on the ground on 25 carries and is also second on the team with two rushing scores. However, Sunday begins a new era in Miami as rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa is in line to make his first career NFL start, putting Fitzpatrick on the bench and severely hindering any more production from him in the air or on the ground.
The Dolphins as a team have combined for 165 carries for 631 rushing yards and six rushing TDs so far this season.
What Mobility Will Tagovailoa Bring Sunday?
Miami will add another running back for the Rams defense to try and stop in Tagovailoa, and if the mobile QB can get his ground work going he could cause problems for a LA defense who is working on a short week to try and prepare for the versatile QB.
“I think my leadership plan is just to be the same Tua I’ve always been. I don’t go out yelling at guys. That’s just not the way I lead. I’m just going to be me – how I am on the sideline, how I am off the field, that’s pretty much how I’m going to be on the field,” Tagovailoa said. “There might be certain instances where we might get into it a little bit with the receivers or the linemen, but everyone is just so competitive here that that’s just the nature of how the game goes sometimes.”
Miami Running the Ball More Comofortably
The Dolphins have started to look a little more comfortable running the ball and despite being ranked 22nd overall in rushing offense, with an average of 105.2 rushing yards per game and averaging 3.82 yards per carry, having the addition of Tagovailoa only adds to what Miami can build on.
The Dolphins’ 19th ranked rushing defense will have their hands full despite the weaker individual LA rusher, as the trio as a unit brings in the seventh ranked rushing offense and an average of 139 yards per game with 4.38 yards per carry.
The running back units will square off beginning at 1 p.m. eastern in Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Sunday.
Kayla Morton contributed to this article.