Dolphins need to get run game on track

Posted Oct. 25, 2010 @ 12:57 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Most of the discussion after the Dolphins' 23-22 loss to the Steelers will center around the officiating call that cost Miami what would have been a game-clinching fumble recovery.

But the Dolphins were lucky to even be in that situation.

After starting the game in the best possible way by recovering two consecutive fumbles in Steelers territory, the Dolphins could only convert field goals. They gave up 290 passing yards and allowed two long kickoff returns to Steelers KR Emmanuel Sanders. CBs Jason Allen and Benny Sapp were both beaten badly on TDs.

But the most frustrating thing going against the Dolphins was their lack of a run game, which made their play calls on two red-zone opportunities and their final drive much more confusing.

The PFW Spin

Yes, the Dolphins were up against the best rushing defense in the league, but with RBs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, some thought (and clearly the Dolphins did too) they could find some success on the ground.

The two combined for 62 yards on 20 carries — 3.1 yards per carry.

The Dolphins are 3-0 this season away from home, and have rushed for at least 100 yards in each of those games. They are 0-3 at home, and have failed to rush for more than 92 yards in those three games. This was last year's fourth-ranked rushing offense, and that was without Brown for part of the season.

Offensive coordinator Dan Henning specializes in going after an opponent's weakness, and the Dolphins did throw it more than they ran it on Sunday, but it was when they ran the ball that was almost as disconcerting as how they ran the ball.

After recovering a Ben Roethlisberger fumble at the Steelers' 13-yard line early in the first quarter, having already turned a fumbled kickoff into three points, Williams ran the ball three times. His second-down run gained eight yards, but the other two rushes were stopped for no gain. The Dolphins settled for a short field goal. Not a single throw? Not even one attempt toward WR Brandon Marshall or WR Davone Bess in the endzone? The Dolphins could have gone up 10-0 on the Steelers, instead they turned two huge turnovers into just six points.

And that wasn't the end of the Dolphins' attempts to run the ball in key situations. When they got the ball with 2:26 to go down by just one point, their first play of the drive was a two-yard run by Brown. Clearly, they were trying to catch the Steelers off guard, but it completely backfired. They were forced to rush a play before the two-minute warning (a drop by TE Anthony Fasano), leaving them in a 3rd-and-long situation.

Two more incomplete passes later, Miami is now 3-3, facing two tough road contests in Cincinnati and Baltimore. While they have shown they do not need to run the ball to be productive on offense this season, the Dolphins need to get more consistency on the ground, or at least recognize better when it's time to air it out.

Aside from Marshall, Brown and Williams are the best players on that offense. They should be scoring points when the team gets in the red zone. Instead, the two have combined for one rushing TD through six games.