Maybe it’s an appropriate time, with the Dolphins playing the New York Jets, to point out that running back Lamar Miller is certainly no Keyshawn Johnson.
Miller’s yards per carry and the Dolphins insistence they’re a more physical team under interim coach Dan Campbell say Miller would be justified in stating the title of the former Jets wide receiver’s autobiography, Just Give Me the Damn Ball. Last week against Dallas, for example, Miller averaged 7.6 yards per carry on his five first-half carries.
He got two carries the entire second half.
“I never know when they’re going to try to call a running play,” Miller said. “Whatever they call, I just try to give it my all, whether it’s a passing down or running down. During the game, I never get frustrated. I always keep my composure.”
Dolphins offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said of the Dallas game: “I think when we ran the ball, we ran the ball effectively enough to do better. Unfortunately, when you run the ball, you better stay with the sticks and you better be good at third down.
“I can think of three runs that got us backed up, holding, holding, chop block that puts you way behind. Now all of a sudden you’re in a position where it’s not easy to call a run again, but I still tried sometimes. I think when we ran the ball and we weren’t called for a penalty, I think we ran pretty effectively, and I think it actually gave me pretty good hope.”
This past Sunday wasn’t the first time the Dolphins seemed to forget they can just turn and hand the ball to a running back averaging 5.0 yards per carry. Despite that, Miller said he has never approached the coaching staff to ask for more carries.
“The coaches come to me and tell me, ‘Just try to make plays for this team,’ ” he said. “They’re just going to try to get the ball in my hands more. That’s something I was thankful for. I just try to show them my appreciation every time I get the ball, to try to make plays.”
And Miller echoed Campbell’s assertion that the Dolphins have become a more physical team since they were pushed around by the Jets in London, the last game under former coach Joe Philbin. In that game, the Dolphins went 0 for 12 on third down because they were in third-and-long all game.
“Some of the first and second downs, we have a high percentage of explosive runs on first down. After that run we don’t even get to third down,” Lazor said. “Those are our best drives where we don’t even get to third down. Then you have a holding penalty or some other error like we had in this past game that back you up, and now your third downs become real long. It’s almost like we become feast or famine.”
In saying this week that Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has broad latitude to call audibles, Lazor put some of the Dolphins limited number of called runs on Tannehill.
“He [audibles] in the run game and the pass game,” Lazor said. “He turns runs into passes. When I get asked about the number of runs, the reality is that some of the passes were runs that turn into passes. I don’t want to say too much, but those are Ryan’s decisions.”
This befits a game between teams at 4-6 and 5-5: The Dolphins’ best wide receiver, Jarvis Landry, is questionable with a knee injury. The Jets will undertrump that with their best cornerback, Darrelle Revis, out with a concussion. Campbell said he felt good about Landry’s chances to play Sunday.
“He practiced [Thursday] and he probably got about halfway through practice and just didn’t feel great,” Campbell said. “We gave him the rest of that practice off and then today we just wanted to sit him, get him feeling good for the game.”
Offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James is out with a toe injury. Linebackers Jelani Jenkins (ankle) and Koa Misi (abdomen) are questionable.