Lamar Miller started 15 games for the Dolphins in 2014 and in his second NFL season he led the club in rushing with 709 yards on 4 yards a carry. Miller didn’t blow anyone away as the Dolphins ground game wasn’t stout as they were 26th in yards, but they only ran it 349 times (29th in league in rushes). Miller could have been way better or, at least good enough to get Thomas out of the picture, but with an offensive line working as a strainer with car sized holes, and some questionable offensive balance Millers own faults were greatly magnified. Now with Knowshon Moreno in town Miller will take a step back as far as carrying the rushing load, as I wouldn’t expect him to get 177 carries again, but I expect his game to take a great leap forward.
Moreno and Miller or, M&M are an exciting combo and should be as satisfying as there chocolate counterparts. Moreno is a do it all back, he can run in a zone system, he can catch, he can block and he can water the grass during the national anthem, and he is exactly what the Dolphins need. Oh and by the way he is coming off his best pro year and he is on a “show me contract” so expect Moreno to be a monster seeking a real payday. Moreno’s presence allows Miller to move back to being that second guy like he was his rookie year. However I wouldn’t expect Miller to wilt away on the bench.
Bill Lazor is coming out of a Chip Kelly tutorial, and although I wouldn’t expect anyone to confuse the Phins with the Ducks, I would expect Lazor to implement a fast paced spread offense. My suspicions have already been confirmed with the Dolphins free agent admiration for wide receivers when they already have a deep group. A fast passed offense means a lot of subbing so Miller will get his carries, and with a spread offense he will be running through or, around a thinner box with less true tacklers on the field. This will be a huge benefit for the Dolphins and Miller as Philbin has just recently called Miller out on not breaking enough tackles. Of course, he has never been known as the world’s most-physical runner as he lacks the size and powerful leg drive needed to truck bigger defenders or move piles, but with a thined box Miller will be able to play to his strong suit of moving in space. Miller is fast with even quicker feet. His acceleration is marveled and we can hope and expect that he gets to show it off more often in space. This means we can expect to see more than 4 runs of 20+ yards from him and I would suspect a greater yards per carry.
Also I think a spread offense will mean Miller will have a different perspective on a dozen snaps a game. For the last two years we have heard about this guys receiving skills and talk of moving him out the slot sometimes to get him on the field and in space and I think that the Dolphins will do just that 2014. With Miller running bubbles, hitches, and long crosses under the defense D-coordinators will have to choose to bend and not break by allowing completions underneath or, to cover short and thin the rest of their defense giving Tannehill more room to attack the heart. In either scenario the Dolphins would be prime for more positive plays.
And although Miller is not the worst pass protector in the world, he remains a work in progress, and with Moreno in town I would expect him to pick up a lot of those duties. However, you can expect Miller to be lined up next to Tannehill a great deal in screen situations, as Moreno has good hands, but his receiving numbers were a product of the system and Millers explosiveness makes him a better candidate for a home run as he has shown serious burst and game breaking ability.
Besides having to share snaps with Moreno, Miller should only have to share a few snaps with Gillisle as the Dolphins will certainly cut ties with Thomas before the end of the preseason and could even cut ties with Thigpen if they find a more explosive returner in the draft. So although every player wants to play more, Miller wont be getting stiff on Sundays.
Moreno should see a majority of the snaps in 2014, but I wouldn’t expect him to see the vast majority. Miller is an explosive weapon and hopefully this year Lazor removes the safety. Number 26 will look to gash spread defenses and if the new look offensive line can actually set the edge on outside-zone, or the rare toss then Miller should eat up yards on the perimeter. Expect to see Miller with less touches in 2014, but more touches in space and more receptions, which should translate into a rushing average, more yac and more touchdowns.