Why Dallas Should Sign Lamar Miller
People act like I hate Darren McFadden. That’s not true at all. I was pleasantly surprised with McFadden's production in 2015. However, the reason people assume I dislike him is because I was actively against the idea of making him the starting RB in 2015. I didn’t - and still don’t - think he’s a good scheme fit.
Yes, DMC had 1,000+ yards after only starting 10 games. He definitely deserves credit for that. However, I believe that is more of a testament to the ability of this offensive line than it is to McFadden’s talent. Dallas had to avoid and/or adjust many of their run plays to better suit DMC's style. The strength of this offensive line is in zone-blocking plays - which is where McFadden is the least effective.
Fish has confirmed this, by the way, in a 1-on-1 conversation with Travis Frederick. Travis downplays it, but the Dallas O-line absolutely switched from a zone-blocking approach to a man-scheme to better accomodate Darren's style.
Don’t get me wrong, McFadden has a role on this team but the Cowboys can definitely find a major upgrade at the starting RB spot.
One such upgrade would be Lamar Miller, who is getting ready to hit free agency.
Miller is extremely agile, has great vision and makes hits his lanes quickly. He’s also elusive in the open field and has the speed to take it the distance on any given play. Miller's skill set and strengths are much more compatible with this offensive line than Darren McFadden’s. Some people aren’t completely sold on Miller because he hasn’t put up huge numbers in Miami. Well, the reason for that is the Dolphins underutilizing him and not taking advantage of his talent. If used correctly, Miller could be a top-tier RB in the NFL and here are some numbers to back up my argument.
Miller has a 4.9 YPC over the last 2 seasons, which is the 2nd most in the NFL among all RB’s with at least 300 carries in that span. Miller also has the 3rd most rushing TD’s and 4th most total TD’s among RB’s in that span. Jeremy Hill and DeMarco Murray are the only RB’s who have more rushing TD’s than Miller since 2014. On top of that, Miller had 5 more rushing TD’s than Darren McFadden in 2015, despite carrying the ball 45 fewer times. Here’s another selling point for you: Lamar Miller has far less mileage on his body than most starting RB’s do at the same point in their careers. Miller has averaged 151 rushing attempts per season in his 4 years in the NFL. Comparatively, Marshawn Lynch averaged 203 rushing attempts per season in his first 4 years in the NFL. That’s 208 more rushing attempts than Miller. DeMarco Murray averaged 233 rushing attempts per season in his first 4 years in the NFL. That’s 328 more than Miller. On top of that, Miller only played 2 years in college while Lynch and Murray played 3 and 4 years, respectively.
Lamar Miller has openly discussed his disappointment in his lack of carries in Miami. He has publicly said that the number of carries he’ll receive and scheme fit will play a huge part in where he decides to play next. Luckily, he’s a perfect scheme fit in Dallas and would get more carries here than he ever has at any other point in his career. And if all of the wasn’t enough to get him on board, he also happened to grow up a huge Cowboys fan, as seen in these tweets from 2011.
Now, back to McFadden. Even if he was a good scheme fit, RB would still be a major priority for the Cowboys this offseason, in my opinion. McFadden is injury-prone, coming off the heaviest workload of his career and will be 29 this year - which is a big drop-off year for RB’s. That’s a recipe for disaster. ... so it's a good thing that while he's under contract for 2016, it's at a very affordable price.
Meanwhile, Lamar Miller to the Cowboys seems like a match made in Heaven. ... if there is an affordability match. Keeping in mind that the cheapest way to solve any roster hole is via the NFL Draft, as KD illutrates in the up-top video ... The Cowboys last spring talked privately (but to CHQ) about being willing to pay a starting RB about $4 mil a year ... and inched up to $5 mil for DeMarco, who of course bolted to Philly for a larger payday. It's too early to know what Miller's price tag will be. But it's not too early to recognize that while McFadden was very good for Dallas this year, he doesn't allow this offensive line to capitalize on its strengths and reach its full potential. They have to change too much for him to be effective.
Darren McFadden was good in 2015 but Lamar Miller has a chance to be truly great in this scheme, behind this offensive line.