It’s inevitable isn’t it?
Lamar Miller is going to break out in 2014. He’s going to rush for over a thousand yards and remind Dolphins fans why the front office let Reggie Bush walk to free agency.
With all the reports out of OTA’s that Knowshon Moreno is sporting a mean NASCAR beer belly and Daniel Thomas is…well…Daniel Thomas, Miller seems ready to take the next step.
At worst, the Dolphins brought in Moreno to create backfield competition. And we all know what competition can do for a player. It peaks their interest. It makes them work harder on and off the field. It makes them angry. And most importantly it makes them earn their job.
Last year the starting running back position was all but handed to Miller, as the aforementioned Reggie Bush left for free agency and Daniel Thomas is a career “three yards and a cloud of dust.” So there wasn’t much competition to push Miller in the hot summer months leading up to the season. Despite the lack of backfield talent and the ineptitude of the offensive line, Miller ran for 709 yards and showed flashes of a game changing running back at times.
So you’ve added competition. Now you need to add creativity.
Exit Mike Sherman and his vanilla offense and enter Bill Lazor, the chocolate-vanilla twist in a waffle cone with sprinkles and Reese’s cups on top.
Last time Lazor was a full time offensive coordinator was in 2010 and 2011 for the University of Virginia. In those years he had a running back by the name of Perry Jones. In 2010, Jones ran for 646 yards and caught 31 balls for 224 yards. In 2011, Jones upped his rushing total to 915 yards on the ground and 506 yards through the air.
Who is Perry Jones? I don’t know. I can’t find anything on him in the NFL database. (If you can, let us know) Point is, Lazor took an average talent at a small Division-1 school and transformed him into a solid ACC tail back. Give Lazor a year or two with his system and big things can happen at the running back position.
It has been noted time and time again how Lazor just spent a season under Chip Kelly in Philadelphia learning the new dynamically quick system that helped LeSean McCoy transform into more than a 2,000 yard all purpose back and clearly one of the top two or three running backs in football.
McCoy is no bruiser either. Known more for his ankle-breaking-video-game jukes, he can make any defender miss in the open field. Lamar Miller isn’t “Shady McCoy” – we know that – but he does show the same skill set with quick feet and explosive bursts that can turn a five yard dive into a 60 yard sprint.
Miller showed that burst on a 49 yard run against the Bengals on Thursday Night Football. Dashing to the sideline and then cutting it back down the middle of the field. The play was ruined by a fumble as he was a few yards from scoring, but the raw talent and explosiveness exists.
If it’s true Lamar Miller is the standout back at Miami’s OTA’s, then we should see a spike in carries (177), receptions (26) and all-around performance from 2013 to this season. There are no excuses for the Dolphins to have the 26th ranked rushing attack in the NFL in 2014.
They spent money on the offensive line changes, got rid of the boring vanilla play caller and brought in competition to make the best man win. All these additions should mean that Miller is poised for a breakout season and we should be shocked if he doesn’t have one.