The dreaded Lockout, the Quarterback situation, and the Head Coaching issues have all been the main focus of Dolfans over the 2011 NFL off-season, but not much attention has been directed towards the all important running game.
After 6 mediocre, injury filled seasons with the Dolphins, Ronnie Brown is a free agent and will not be seen in a teel and orange uniform next year. "But..but...who's going to dance around the pocket for 5 minutes before actually running??" Don't worry, I'll get to that. Brown, however, isn't the only HB in the hunt for a new team. After a remarkable first 2 seasons with the Dolphins, racking up more than 3,000 yards in 2002 and 2003, Ricky Williams is a free agent and will most likely not finish his drama-filled career with the Dolphins. We aren't done just yet at the HB spot. Patrick Cobbs entered free agency in 2011 along with Brown and Williams, which means the Dolphins will be in the hunt for a good number 2 back. So with the R&R train leaving the station, along with Patrick Cobbs in the passenger seat, who are we going to rely on in the backfield? Let's take a look.
1. Daniel Thomas: A physical back with the potential to be an every-down player, Thomas also has some intriguing pass-catching abilities that could also make him Brown’s successor if Miami continues to implement the Wildcat offense. In two seasons at Kansas State, Thomas rushed for 2,850 yards in 24 starts, scoring 30 touchdowns and averaging 114 yards per game. Those are some impressive numbers, but he must now prove capable of doing similar in the NFL.
2. Lex Hilliard: Given the way the Dolphins’ coaches used Hilliard last season, it doesn’t seem like they see him as someone they want with the ball in his hands: He played in all 16 games but never had a single carry and caught just one pass for three yards. But Hilliard is excited about what he can do in the system that new Dolphins offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is planning to install. Playing in Daboll’s system in Cleveland last year, Peyton Hillis went from an afterthought to a star, and Hilliard has a similar running style to Hillis. However, I don't see Hilliard being the number 2 back, even the number 3 back, that we desperately need.
1. DeAngelo Williams: is viewed as the best tailback on the free agent market, and there’s plenty of speculation that the Miami Dolphins have an interest in signing the Carolina Panther.
"I've heard rumors that I may be at the top of their board this year," Williams said about the Dolphins on WQAM in Miami. "This is a place I'd like to live in. I hope I'm at the top of their list and that they come after me"
Williams also mentioned that he wouldn't mind splitting carries with someone (Daniel Thomas) if needed to. This be the case, acquiring Williams would end up being a wonderful replacement to R&R.
2. Ahmad Bradshaw: has been pointed at as being the best fit for Miami’s offense and the compliment that Miami needs to Daniel Thomas. Bradshaw knows what it’s like to split time with another back as well. In Miami, the Dolphins would have that speed rusher with excellent hands out of the back-field. No one can deny Bradshaw's playmaking ability having a solid 2010 season rushing for over 1,200 yards.
3. Reggie Bush: While he isn’t a free agent, he will count $16 million against the Saints’ cap next season, which will absolutely lead to a release. Bush’s versatility is his biggest asset. With great hands, incredible acceleration, and a dynamic player in the return game, he would elevate Miami’s offense to another level. Miami craves a player who can at least threaten the defense with the ability to score on one snap.Although the Dolphins addressed their speed issue through the draft with the acquisition of receiver Edmond Gates, they need speed that can contribute right now. Bush can be lined up in the backfield, split out wide, and even in the Wildcat if they choose. His versatility makes him more useful than any of the other tailbacks available including DeAngelo Williams and Ahmad Bradshaw.
The running back position is in desperate need of change. Daniel Thomas can't do it alone, hell, we don't even know if he can do it all. Wether it's Williams, Bradshaw, Bush, or even Sproles (who i'm not sold on), the Dolphins need to make a move once this lockout ends.