|Familiar futility woes for Dolphins ground game|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 17 September 2007 12:43|
A pedestrian ground game has been Miami's biggest problem since running back Ricky Williams retired before the 2004 season.
The Dolphins are 19-31 since then. The last time they endured such a dismal 50-game stretch was in the 1960s.
In 2007, Miami is 0-2.
``We've got to try to turn this thing around quick,'' running back Ronnie Brown said. ``It's a little frustrating, knowing the things we're capable of.''
Quarterback Trent Green made headlines by throwing four interceptions in Sunday's 37-20 loss to Dallas, but another culprit was the absence of a rushing attack, which forced the Dolphins to pass.
Green threw 40 times, while Brown and backup Jesse Chatman totaled 14 carries. In the season opener, Green threw 38 times, and Brown and Chatman combined for 18 carries. The Dolphins have totaled 127 yards rushing this season, worst in the NFL.
In other words, they're not exactly off to a running start.
``You always want to run the ball better,'' first-year coach Cam Cameron said. ``You'd like to think we're going to continue to work and develop it.''
Former No. 2 overall draft pick Brown looks more and more like another first-round bust for the Dolphins. Now in his third season, he's averaging 3.0 yards per carry, meaning three attempts aren't enough for a first down. He was outrushed Sunday by Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
Brown is on pace to lead the Dolphins this year with 520 yards rushing. In 2002, Williams led the NFL with 1,853.
``I might not be doing my job as well as I need to,'' Brown said.
He came into the season ready for a workhorse load, but instead has been reduced to sharing playing time with Chatman, who was released by two teams in 2005 and was out of football last year.
Both have searched in vain for room to run.
``We've got a lot of bugs right now,'' Chatman said. ``This week you're going to see a different team.''
The schedule gives the Dolphins cause for hope, with two winless opponents looming. Miami plays Sunday at the New York Jets (0-2), then returns home to face Oakland (0-2).
But the Dolphins are unlikely to start winning until they start running.
A potential upgrade may soon be available: Williams. The suspended running back is eligible to seek reinstatement by the NFL after Oct. 1 and will do so, his attorney said last week.
But Cameron has given no indication he wants Williams, who has played only 12 games since his one-year retirement in 2004.
``Until there's a ruling made, I'm going to focus on the guys we've got in the locker room,'' Cameron said Monday.
Those guys have produced Miami's third 0-2 start in four years, with the poor ground game creating a domino effect.
Because the Dolphins must rely on Green to throw, they struggle to control the ball, which gives opponents a big edge in time of possession, which wears down Miami's aging defense. The Dolphins gave up a 58-yard scoring drive to start overtime in their opener at Washington, and they allowed 17 points in the fourth quarter Sunday.
Opponents have rushed for 357 yards, nearly three times the Dolphins' total.
``We've got a bad situation,'' linebacker Channing Crowder said. ``We're better than this. This is ridiculous.''
Cameron described the latest loss as a team effort, but bad blocking may have been the biggest contributor. The Dolphins have changed the starter at every position in the interior line since last season, but so far there's no sign of improvement.
``We've got to finish some things better,'' Cameron said of the blocking. ``We're at that stage where we don't have any one guy making multiple mistakes. That's a positive. But it's kind of like we're taking turns.''
In the case of the Dolphins, it all stops with the running game.