Running Problem

Much has been in the last several days of the Dolphins' failure to have more rushing attempts last Thursday night against the Bears, but offensive coordinator Dan Henning perhaps had the best answer this week.

"We didn't abandon the run; the run abandoned us in the game," Henning said during his weekly press conference Wednesday.

Yes, the Dolphins had only seven rushing attempts among their running backs, but those seven carries gained only 12 yards.

That's not exactly going to encourage Henning to call more running plays.

It's also not like the Dolphins lit it up the previous week against Tennessee when they gained only 88 yards on 30 attempts — 37 yards of those coming on two Ricky Williams Wildcat runs.

The previous week, it was 73 yards on 17 carries at Baltimore. The Dolphins had great success running the ball on their first drive that day, but couldn't get much done after that.

So the problem isn't as simple as needing to call more running plays, the Dolphins just aren't doing enough with them.

So what's going wrong? Unfortunately, there are a couple of factors at play, starting with a banged-up offensive line that lacks a dominant player in the middle to begin with.

That's compounded by the fact that Williams and Ronnie Brown both are between-the-tackle runners who need some sort of crease to be able to succeed.

This is where the Dolphins' lack of a speedy back who can take things outside really hurts.

As a team, the Dolphins are averaging 3.8 yards per carry, but Brown has had very little success lately and his average would sit at 3.5 if you took away the 51-yard burst he had in Minnesota way back in Week 2.

Williams is averaging a healthier 4.4 yards, which makes sense because he's got better vision than Brown and makes decisions more quickly at the line.

But neither Williams nor Brown had any success against the Bears, and that put the Dolphins in a position where they had to throw the ball.

If you think the Dolphins would have scored a lot of points or won the game merely by calling more running plays against Chicago, think again.

The problem right now isn't so much quantity as it is quality.

That's clear. The only question is whether the problem can be fixed quickly enough for the Dolphins to salvage their season and make a legitimate run at the playoffs.


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