Omar Kelly: Crowded backcourt reinforces Miami’s commitment to running

There’s a reason we have a wide variety of cutting tools in our kitchen knife sets.

This is because each knife has a specific purpose and their use should meet those needs.

Think of the crowded backcourt of the Miami Dolphins in the same way.

Raheem Mostert is supposed to be a speeder for the distance. Sonny Michel is the inside run specialist who can move the chain, and Chase Edmonds is the catch weapon who moves a lot, all over the field.

All of which served their purpose, all of which were necessary as new Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel looks to use his steady guard to build one of the NFL’s most effective rushing offenses, and a ground game could Throwing back to the ground and pound era of football he grew up in the late ’90s.

At least that sounds like a goal for the Dolphins, and given that the team’s acquisition supports Miami’s goal of ramping up its charge, it’s not just talk.

Earlier this week, Miami added Michelle to an already crowded backcourt, the former American heritage standout who started 35 NFL games in four seasons with the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.

Michel becomes the third veteran running back to join this offseason, joining Edmonds, who signed a two-year, $12.4 million deal on the first day of free agency, as well as a deal with Mike Daniel signed a one-year, $3.1 million contract with Most, who coached him with the 49ers.

The trio join a team of Miles Gaskin, who has started 17 games over the past two seasons, Salvin Ahmed, who has started four games in 2020 and a 2021 seventh-round pick. Gerrid Doaks is a reserved unit for the 2021 season, where Miami ranks 30th in rushing yards per game (92.2) and 31st in yards per carry (3.5).

Considering last year was the third straight season the Dolphins were in the bottom five for rushing yards per attempt, it could be an overhaul that includes adding Pro Bowl left tackle Troon Armstead and Veteran guard Conor Williams came to strengthen the offensive line, needed.

“We’ve added a lot of speed to that room,” said tailbacks coach Eric Studersville, who is coaching his third Dolphins, considering his Miami career began with Adam Gardner , later succeeded by Brian Flores. “We have guys who can run. Miles is fast and Salvin is fast. These guys could be faster.”

Studersville was referring to Most, who missed a game last season with a knee injury in the 49ers’ season opener, while Edmonds posted a career-high 903 for the Arizona Cardinals last season. Yards rushing and receiving yards, which mostly complements James Connor with him as a third, changing rhythm guard.

“Chase brings speed, he brings experience,” Studesville said. “He brings resilience.”

If healthy, Most likely would bring all three into the Dolphins’ offense.

The Dolphins offensive line has been watching old 49ers movies to study the running game concept McDaniel hopes to capitalize on, while offensive linebacker Robert Hunter claims he’s never seen a tailback bat faster than Mostert Speed, which is considered to be one of the fastest players in the NFL, the actual game speed during his stint as a 49ers starter.

So how will rotations and roles change?

“You create a playing field and then let these people solve the problem,” Studesville said. “They’re going to categorize who is contributing, where, how and how much.”

Considering that the 2019 seventh-round pick defeated the 49ers’ leading rushers Kenya Drake, Jordan Howard and Matt Breda, Gaskin had a career-high 612 rushing yards and 173 rushing yards. Scored 3 rushing touchdowns in 2 rushes, which would have been a mistake 2018 — earning a starting spot for the 2020 season.

That season, Gaskin was one of the NFL’s top producers in yards per game, averaging 97.2 yards per game, 10th among NFL guards. Had he not been sidelined with a knee injury that season, he could have done more.

Gaskin has always had a grinder-like attitude to his work, consistently doing all the little things that lead to success. So it would be wrong to throw him aside.

“He’ll try to under-promise and over-deliver,” Studesvile said.

Then there’s Michelle, the most accomplished of all guards considering his 3,137 rushing yards, 47 catches, 386 yards and 20 touchdowns on 743 carries.

Michel fills an important void for the Dolphins, and considering he’s an effective interior runner, he combines vision, explosiveness and physicality to create a no-nonsense north-south running style. These types of players come in handy when it comes to 3-point and short-ball opportunities and when running in the red zone and goal line.

“The best thing about being in Miami is that players want to come here and be a part of it,” offensive coordinator Frank Smith said of discussing Michelle’s signing. “Through this process, we’ve been really lucky with how many people here envision themselves and fit us.”

Let’s hope that the newcomers and stayers blend well and can revive the Dolphins’ once-stagnant rushing offense and bring balance to Miami’s offense.


US News.

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