Dolphins’ run game struggled in Philadelphia, and the devil is in the details
MIAMI GARDENS — The Miami Dolphins had 12 carries for 45 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles. You decide which number is more objectionable.
“Probably the biggest opportunities we squandered happened to be in the run game,” coach Mike McDaniel said.
The bad thing is Miami entered the game No. 1 in rushing at 181.8 yards per game.
Philadelphia sacked quarterback Tua Tagovailoa three times (he’d only been sacked six times in the previous six games) and hit him six times because it knew a pass was coming.
The Dolphins only totaled 49 offensive plays, 32 of them were passes, and wide receiver Tyreek Hill, partly due to fellow wide receiver Jaylen Waddle playing reduced snaps due to a back ailment, was the target on 15 of those.
That’s being predictable.
In a way, the lack of runs was almost unavoidable.
“We were behind the chains more than we were used to,” McDaniel said after the game.
“We had some small nuance details of some plays that, hats off to the Philadelphia Eagles because they made us pay every time we — maybe our track was a little too tight, or too wide or an offensive lineman was a hair off.
“We rely on the running game to have a successful offense. We got it going a little too late in the game, so that is something that we take pride in and will be sure to get better from moving forward.”
McDaniel said little things made a big difference.
Running back Raheem Mostert expressed a similar sentiment after the game.
“It was just an accumulation of things,” he said. “I know on one run specifically I should have went outside. … I should have known the blocking scheme.”
The Dolphins (5-2) have one chance, this Sunday against New England (2-5), to get the run game back on track before yet another showdown, this one the biggie against defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City (6-1) in Germany.
The Patriots are 13th in the league in run defense at 100.7 yards allowed per game, and the Chiefs are 15th at 105.7, so neither team is as good as Philadelphia, which is No. 1 at 62.9.
Regardless, the Dolphins need a run game to offset their pass game.
The loss of rookie sensation De’Von Achane (460 yards rushing, 12.1 yards per carry, five touchdowns in four games) and rookie tough guy Chris Brooks (94 yards rushing, 6.3 yards per carry, two touchdowns) has hurt the run game. Both are on injured reserve with knee problems.
Mostert is the leading rusher at 474 yards (5.6 ypc) and nine rushing touchdowns but the Eagles held him to 45 yards on nine carries, with the bulk of that coming late. At halftime, Mostert had three carries for minus-8 yards.
Running back Jeff Wilson Jr. a hard-running slasher, was activated from the injured reserve for the Eagles game and his presence should help greatly going forward. Wilson averaged 4.7 yards per carry last season.
Miami will have to watch its potential offensive line issues, though. Left guard Isaiah Wynn (quadricep) will be out for weeks, according to McDaniel, and it’s not yet known whether center Connor Williams (groin) will return this week.
Still, every person counts because the difference in run game success or failure against Philadelphia was miniscule, McDaniel said.
“We had some details that were just a hair off, that were negative plays that through our lens we see as explosive opportunities,” he said. “That’s a vast difference, and greatly affects your overall production.”
McDaniel seems to think if the Dolphins can get those details cleaned up they can possibly return to their early-season run game success.
“I didn’t see a situation where it was like, ‘OK, we can’t block people at all,’ ” he said. “But we were getting some negatives that we’d gotten used to this season as being of substantial gains that definitely affected our overall production for sure.”