For the Miami Dolphins’ 2012 season, no position was as polarizing as the running back spot. The trio of Reggie Bush, Daniel Thomas, and Lamar Miller has its own uniqueness both on and off the field.
Regardless of their differences, the trio was productive, gaining a combined 1,561 yards on 369 carries, good for 4.23 yards per carry.
MDD Staff Writer: Garrett Baker
Bush spearheaded the group, getting roughly 2/3 of the total carries throughout the season. But at some key moments in the season both Thomas and Miller stepped up and showed why they had been highly regarded at different points in their college and brief professional careers. For Bush, the season was a disappointment as he didn’t crack the 1,000 yard mark and failed to get more than 10 carries in five different games. He also only rushed for more than 100 yards in two games, and his 4.3 YPC average was down from his 5.0 average last season. Bush’s contract is now up, and his future with Miami is uncertain. Based off his production and age, he won’t command elite money, but he will probably ask for a pretty big contract. Miami will have to decide if he is worth it. Right now, I think they are probably better off drafting a running back and letting Bush go, unless he’s very reasonable with his asking price.
Lamar Miller is the reason I would be okay with letting Bush go. Although Daniel Thomas was a second-round pick while Miller was taken in the fourth round, I see more potential in Miller at this point. He slipped in the draft due to injury concerns, but he ran hard when called upon this year and showed a ton of promise. My biggest gripe with offensive coordinator Mike Sherman this season is that he didn’t use Miller more. Every time the kid was called on, he delivered. In Weeks 2 and 3, Miller got 10 and 9 carries and turned them into 65 and 48 yards, respectively. Against Buffalo in Week 16, Miller got another 10 carries and gained 73 yards. Taking those three games, along with the Jacksonville game where he got 6 carries, Miller had 35 carries for 204 yards, good for a 5.83 YPC average.
The rookie was electric, showing surprisingly good vision and patience but also an explosiveness and elusiveness which make him so dangerous. He was also barely used out of the backfield at all as a receiver, which I think could be in the works for next year when he hopefully has a bigger role. Miller has some similarities to Bush, but doesn’t “dance” quite as much as Bush does, which I really like about Miller and dislike about Bush. There are some places, often around the line of scrimmage, where a short gain is possible if the runner just lowers his shoulder and drives his feet forward, or sometimes just dives between defenders. But while Miller seems more content to get that extra yard or two, Bush typically looks to stand up, change direction, and juke the defenders when there’s little chance of actually making anything happen. This causes him to often get stopped for negative yardage, which typically kills a drive.
Like Bush, Thomas was also disappointing this season. A YPC average of 3.6 with only four touchdowns just isn’t going to cut it. Add that to the multiple injuries he sustained throughout the season, and I don’t have much hope for Thomas’ future. Thomas is a big, strong back, but he looked a little hesitant this season, and his lack of explosiveness was really obvious, as evident by his 3.6 YPC and a season-long rush of just 20 yards. He definitely is not the workhorse that everyone hoped, and should be looked at as either a trade chip for the draft or just a rotation guy.
The team’s star returner, Thigpen may have been the most consistent playmaker on the team this year. Averaging around 27 yards per kick return and over 12 yards per punt return, Thigpen consistently gave the Dolphins good field position and set up either Ryan Tannehill to need just 3-4 first downs for field goal range or give punter Brandon Fields a chance to pin the opposing team inside their own 20. With only 8 kick returns under 20 yards, only 6 (of a possible 32) fair catches, 2 return touchdowns, and just 1 fumble all year long, keeping Thigpen around would be a wise decision.
Not only a surprise to make the team, Lane surprised even moreso with his role with the team this year. While early on, it seemed he may have a bigger role in the offense (15 touches in the first 5 games), his role as a runner/receiver was reduced. Still, his role as a lead blocker and occasion goal line back (2 short yardage rushing touchdowns this year) was a great benefit to have, and he may secure that fullback role for the future in Miami.