The Miami Dolphins cut running back Mark Walton after he was arrested by Davie police early Tuesday morning. Now, without Walton, this team will be looking for a new starting running back.
After Walton’s arrest, questions immediately arose about the team’s rushing attack. According to Palm Beach Post writer Joe Schad, the Dolphins are on track for the worst rushing season in their history. So far, the team has run the ball 202 times for 603 yards. That’s 3 yards per carry. For comparison, former Fins head coach and current HC of the New York Jets, Adam Gase, hates to run the football. Even his Dolphins team last season rushed the ball 371 times in 16 games for 1,738 yards with a 4.7 yard per carry average. That 2018 team did have Miami native and University of Miami product Frank Gore, as well as Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage – a backfield the like of which this 2019 team lacks.
Ballage, who is averaging 1.9 yards per carry, stated, “I don’t have nothing to prove,” to Schad this past November. This has been turned into a meme by Dolphins Twitter. Josh Houtz of The Phinsider has been one of the biggest Ballage doubters. It seems he and others with the same opinion have been correct all along.
The offense as a whole needs improvement. When QB Ryan Fitzpatrick took the reins back from Josh Rosen, the offense saw a spark just as it did when Rosen took over for Fitzpatrick. Noticing a trend here? Head coach Brian Flores said on Tuesday that Fitzpatrick would be the starter, but he opened up the possibility Rosen could start again. Flores mentioned that Rosen is improving and has consistently said the team is working on getting his ball out faster.
The offense is even more inconsistent than it was under Gase last season. Yes, I’m aware the team is less talented, but Gase was an inept play-caller who only has a job due to his work with Peyton Manning, so this is bad. The offense just isn’t consistent. We are entering Week 12, and the offense has scored 16 touchdowns, which means it is on pace for 21 for the season. They scored 38 last season in 16 games. There were two positives about this offense in the past month and a half: Walton and receiver DeVante Parker, the former is no longer on the team.
This is where we reel in all the negative and get to the positive. There are still potential bright spots in the rushing attack and the offense. They start with running back Patrick Laird. To save you the Google search, here are Laird’s stats this season: 3 carries for 11 yards and 8 receptions for 66 yards. A dominant force on offense, I know. Joking aside, Laird was productive for the University of California, Berkeley. During his last three years, Laird rushed for 2,147 yards and 14 touchdowns and caught 99 passes for 610 yards and 5 touchdowns. He signed with the team as an undrafted free agent and was a preseason surprise. Laird was a cut-day keeper and now with Drake gone and Walton cut, he should get his chance.
Flying to face the Cleveland Browns this weekend without a clear rushing attack makes it difficult to think the Dolphins have anything in their favor. Star defensive end Myles Garrett has been suspended indefinitely for his role in the massive altercation during Thursday night football last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Garrett can be seen here, courtesy of Fox/NFL Network, taking off the helmet of Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and swinging it at Rudolph, connecting with the top of his head.
There were multiple suspensions and fines to both teams, but Garrett is the main one that helps the Dolphins. The Browns are a poorly coached team that’s led by head coach Freddie Kitchens. Kitchens is unqualified for the job; he only became an offensive coordinator last season. His promotion happened when head coach Hue Jackson was fired. However, the Browns are more talented than the Dolphins so barring a complete collapse in judgment, as we’ve seen multiple times this season, I wouldn’t expect a Dolphins win.
Final score prediction: Browns 31 – Dolphins 17