DAVIE – Dolphins running back Lamar Miller has a goal of 1,500 yards rushing.
But don’t judge him on his rushing total.
When you judge Miller, the second-year player from the University of Miami, pay closer attention to his yards per carry because that’ll be the more accurate gauge of his effectiveness.
Realistically, Miller should look to average somewhere around 4.0 yards per carry, maybe a bit more.
If Miller averages 4.3 yards per carry it’ll be a wildly successful season. He’d probably be in the top 20 in the NFL in that category and would almost certainly rush for around 1,000 yards.
Everyone would be happy with those numbers.
And it’s more realistic than 1,500 yards.
For Miller to rush for 1,500 yards he needs to put up crazy numbers in carries and yards per carry.
Houston’s Arian Foster led the NFL with 351 carries last season. We’ll be generous and give Miller an optimistic 300 carries, which is nearly 19 per game.
He’d still need to average 5.0 yards per carry.
That’s not happening – not the 300 carries, not the 19 carries per game, or the 5.0 yards per carry.
Reggie Bush, who played two seasons for the Dolphins, averaged 14.4 carries per game in 2011. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry (216 total carries) while rushing for a career-best 1,086 yards.
Last season Bush averaged 14.2 carries per game (227 total). He rushed for 986 yards in 16 games and averaged 4.3 yards per carry.
Miller can set his goals where ever he wants, and it’s nice that he sets them high. But fans should simply hope Miller, a first-year starter, isn’t a drop-off from Bush.
Let’s face it, Miller is a first- and second-down back. He usually won’t be in the game on third downs. Daniel Thomas is the third-down back. He’s a better pass blocker, receiver, and short-yardage runner.
Plus, you’d expect quarterback Ryan Tannehill to pass more frequently than a year ago with new toys such as wide receivers Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson and tight end Dustin Keller. That’ll cut down Miller’s carries.
Beyond that, the offensive line is shaky, which also works against Miller. You’ll recall Miller was slowed by nagging injuries in college. He has to prove he’s durable enough for a 16-game NFL season as the primary ball carrier and a leaky offensive line won’t help in that regard.
Miller has the speed and moves to be an effective back in the NFL, but so do about 30 or 40 other guys. Miller has to prove he’s an effective ball carrier.
The best way to judge Miller is to look at his yards per carry, and if he’s around 4.3, and he stays healthy, it’s been a fairly productive year.