If you’ve been following the Miami Dolphins at all this season then you did a big gulp when running back Myles Gaskin was announced to have been placed on injured reserve last week with a MCL sprain.
Gaskin, the Dolphins’ starting running back, started the season as the No. 3 back behind newly acquired veterans Jordan Howard and Matt Breida in free agency. However, he slowly rose weekly and overtook both and had a chance to officially prove himself in week three when he got the starting nod against Jacksonville. After rushing 22 times for 66 yards and catching all five of his targets, he never lost his job.
Dolphins’ Rushing Woes Go Beyond Gaskin
But, the MCL sprain landed him on IR until at least the final week of November. The Dolphins turned to Breida, their pass-catching back, and went to work with offensive coordinator Chan Gailey to flip through the playbook and adjust the offense for Miami’s game in Arizona against the Cardinals.
But, that was short-lived.
Not 24 hours after Gaskin was placed on IR, Breida nicked his hamstring that would later make him inactive that the team announced as early as Thursday night. Yikes.
Woes Continue, Jordan Howard’s Roster Presence Due to Contract, Desperation
The next man on the totem pole was Howard who had missed multiple previous games as a healthy inactive. Howard’s healthy scratches came with his inability to move the football. On the season, prior to Sunday, he had 18 rushes for 14 yards. Double yikes.
With Miami investing a big chunk of money into a three-year contract for Howard in free agency is likely the only reason he hasn’t been cut. The true only thing going for him has been his success, if you can call it that, on the goal line. Howard has three rushing scores, one apiece in his first three games as a Dolphin, and Miami knew he could be used in a similar situation in Arizona.
But elsewhere on the field? Howard looked essentially worthless going into Sunday’s game and he didn’t disappoint the predictions.
Salvon Ahmed Surprised in First Game in Teal & Orange
Ahmed’s seven carries, 38 yards and 5.4 yards per carry elevated him to finish as the Dolphins’ leading rusher in the game. Good thing, as Laird had one carry for negative one yards and Howard had 10 carries for 19.
Miami’s Versatility Shocked Arizona
Is it troublesome that Miami may be inching back to its lowly rushing totals from 2019 when it had no one sustainable at the position? Yes. But, in Glendale, the rushing totals were just enough to help upset the Cardinals.
Arizona came into the game chasing its NFC West division rival Seattle who had just fallen to the Buffalo Bills moments before kickoff. With just two losses on the year, and already beating the Seahawks, the Cardinals could leave its matchup against the Dolphins in first place in the division with a victory.
But the elusiveness of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who also turned to his legs in the contest, and finished just behind Ahmed’s totals, paired with his arm saw Arizona having to play catch-up for most of the game.
“We’re going to get people saying we’re great and things like that, but we try to block that out. That’s what we’re doing, we’re blocking that out and taking it one game at a time. It’s a one-game season every week. We’re just putting our most into preparation for that one game,” defensive end Shaq Lawson said. “We don’t look at the outsiders, what they say about the team or how good we are on defense or anything. We just come in there week in and week out and take it one day at a time, and try to make each other better.”
Tagovailoa’s Strong Day On Ground, In Air Sheds Light to Future
Miami moved away from Tagovailoa’s mobility in the middle quarters, but rounded back to it in the fourth, and had two key first down rushes that set up kicker Jason Sanders’ game-winning field goal.
Tagovailoa also increased his passing yardage from 97 in his first start against the Los Angeles Rams to 248, doubled his TDs and didn’t turn the ball over.
“I’m very confident in (Tagovailoa). The coaches give him the play call and he just executes it,” wide receiver DeVante Parker said. “We all have to be on the same exact page, and that’s how we can get the job done together.”
It Was Actually Arizona Lacking a RB
While Arizona QB Kyler Murray outperformed him in terms of statistics, the Cardinals were the ones that didn’t have a RB. Former Dolphin Kenyan Drake missed his revenge game due to an ankle injury and backup Chase Edmonds disappointed against a less-than-average Dolphins run defense. He finished with 25 carries but had just 70 yards (2.8 YPC).
Miami’s defense also forced a key turnover and defensive TD early that forced Arizona to be more careful with the ball in the short-field. The change in the gameplan for Murray and head coach Kliff Kingsbury was something that shook up the Cardinals after just a few minutes into the contest that they never recovered from.
Ahmed, DeAndre Washington Poised to Play if Breida Misses Second Game
The Dolphins will still be without Gaskin on Sunday at home against the Los Angeles Chargers, but could have Breida back. Even if he can go, Ahmed moved into the backup role behind him on the depth chart and is in line to get the start if Breida is forced to miss his second straight game.
Furthermore, Miami traded for RB DeAndre Washington from the Kansas City Chiefs minutes before the NFL’s trade deadline last week, and after passing all COVID-19 procedures is cleared to suit up if the Dolphins choose to activate him. Washington spent a bulk of his young career with the Oakland Raiders and had more than 1,000 yards in four seasons in a backup role, as well as aiding in the receiving game.
Preston Williams, Durham Smythe Injuries Could Leave Holes in Receiving Corps
With Miami potentially being on its heels a little bit more in its receiving corps with WR Preston Williams being placed on IR on Wednesday and tight end Durham Smythe questionable to make it out of concussion protocol, Washington could get a sneaky amount of work.
“With that happening, prayers up for him (Williams)…but I would say it’s the next man up,” Parker said. “That’s just the mentality that we have to have. You never know when your name will be called and you just have to be ready at all times.”
Flores added “We’ll try to split the reps in some form or fashion. I think some of the guys who have already been up and practiced in some of those roles – (as) I’ve mentioned, Jakeem (Grant), Mack Hollins, Malcolm Perry has been in there a little bit. I think to mix those with the young guys, there are a few different ways we can do this.”
– Kayla Morton is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Miami Dolphins. She is also a co-host on the Full Press Fantasy Podcast. Like and follow on Follow @northdakayla74 Follow @FPC_Dolphins and Facebook.