Brown Down For The Count

The Dolphins' road to the playoffs has just gotten a whole lot harder. That's the first conclusion from the news that running back Ronnie Brown has been placed on injured reserve because of the foot injury he sustained in Sunday's two-point victory over Tampa Bay. But the aftermath goes beyond that.

Exploring how Brown's absence will affect the Dolphins, it's pretty obvious he probably was the one player the team could least afford to lose on offense.

Obviously, he was the player with the most rushing attempts and was part of a tremendous one-two punch with Ricky Williams.

More importantly, Brown was the trigger man of the Wildcat and he provided at least the ability to throw the ball on occasion to keep defenses from completely selling out on the run.

Sure, the Dolphins can still run the Wildcat with Williams taking the snaps, but then they lose Williams as the man in motion.

The threat of the handoff to Williams at the snap was good to freeze defenders, if only for a second, and he usually had success whenever he did take the handoff.

If Williams is taking the handoff, then somebody has to come in motion, and the Dolphins obviously don't have anybody who's as good a running back to fill that role.

Of course, the Dolphins could continue to run the Wildcat and have Pat White take the snaps. The only problem there is that White isn't a physical runner and there has to be some concern about him running between the tackles on a consistent basis the way Brown did.

A best guess would be the Dolphins reducing the number of Wildcat player and maybe using different elements.

The injury also could have ramifications beyond this year. Brown's contract called for him to become a free agent next spring if a new CBA is reached, otherwise he'll have one more year before that happens.

The problem for Brown is that he now has sustained two significant injuries in five seasons in the league at a position where players tend to wear down quickly.

As talented a running back as Brown is, there's no question he'll now become a question mark for some -- possibly many -- teams. It's also highly likely that the injury will cost him in the wallet.

It was a tough break for Brown, who from a media standpoint is one of the more likeable players on the team.

It clearly was a tough break for the Dolphins, who were facing an uphill battle to make the playoffs even before then.


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