The question we should be asking isn’t why Kenyan Drake didn’t get more carries in 2018.
That only hints at the broader issue, which is this:
Why didn’t every Dolphins running back get more carries in 2018?
The Dolphins are really good when they run.
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They average 4.7 yards-per-carry, which is eighth-most in the NFL.
But they have rushed the ball just a shade over 23 per game.
That’s eighth-fewest in the league.
Even the last two games, when the offense was punch-less, the Dolphins got production from their ground attack. They rushed for 218 yards on 38 carries — for 5.7 yards per clip.
“I do think Adam — does he love to throw the football? Yes, absolutely,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. “I think that’s what we want to be. I think he understands the strength of the team right now, and that’s the run game for multiple different reasons. I think he’s done a pretty good job of balancing that stuff. In the running game and the passing game, there’s definitely things we need to improve.”
Gase argues that the lack of carries is a matter of opportunities, not will. The Dolphins are terrible on third downs, and that shortens drives, which saps the team of plays. And the Dolphins have been more balanced that nearly two-thirds of the league, running the ball on 42.4 percent of their snaps.
And still, the numbers suggest that Gase only sees running plays as a viable option on first or second downs. Yes, he did famously call two draws on third-and-10 against the Colts, both of which failed and contributed to the team losing the game.
But other than that, third down has almost exclusively been a pass play for Miami. Excluding quarterback scrambles, they have run the ball on just 16.7 percent of their third downs.
That doesn’t even get into the issue of who will be the featured back should Frank Gore return to the Dolphins in 2019, which is his hope. The Dolphins do not view Drake as an every-down back, and Kalen Ballage has also made a case for more carries in his rookie season.
Weapons are not the problem. Usage is.
So back to the original issue:
Do the Dolphins run the ball enough?
“That’s a broad question,” Loggains said. “We’ll go back and look at the end of the season and kind of figure out where we’re at. Sometimes the efficiency thing, I think we did a pretty good job with it. But sometimes when you look at yards-per-carry, if you take out some of the chunk plays and all of the sudden, you have to find the meaning.
“[You have] the 75-yard run that [helped] you averaged 9.1 yards per game, then all of the sudden take that thing out and figure out, ‘How well did we really run the football? Did we control the line of scrimmage like we wanted? Were we able to play on our terms?’”