Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins vow to reverse horrid rushing start

Daniel Thomas sported a busted lip Tuesday, a war wound from a game he’d rather forget.

“My helmet came off, at some point,” Thomas said. “I think it’s when it happened.”

The gash will heal. Time will tell if the Miami Dolphins’ running game will do the same.

The Dolphins, 1-0 after beating the host Browns by two scores Sunday, almost had the feel of a team coming off a loss when they returned to practice Tuesday. Chances are, it was because all the questions in the locker room were about the offense’s inability to run the football in the opener.

They managed just 20 yards on 23 carries against Cleveland, the third-fewest rushing yards the Dolphins have ever gained in a game. Not surprisingly, the Dolphins have the league’s worst running attack through the first week of the season.

There’s plenty of blame to go around.

• The offensive line:

Tyson Clabo, brought in to stabilize the right side of the line, graded out as the worst run-blocker among the 65 offensive tackles to take at least a quarter of their team’s snaps in Week 1, according to Pro Football Focus.

“For me, personally, it definitely wasn’t the standard that I set for myself, but everybody has tough days at the office,” Clabo said.

Jonathan Martin, the starting left tackle, wasn’t much better. He ranked 60th. Guards Richie Incognito and John Jerry and center Mike Pouncey all had middle-of-the-pack efforts.

Said Pouncey: “Rushing for 20 yards, we’re not going to win many games that way.”


Tight ends:

Charles Clay was a weapon in the passing game (5 catches, 54 yards), but his run-blocking needs work, offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said.

“I thought he can improve there, he’s still a work in progress, he definitely has the capabilities to be a very good run-blocker,” Sherman added.

(As an aside, two tight ends the Dolphins let walk in free agency, Anthony Fasano and Jeron Mastrud, both had superb run-blocking days for their new teams.)

When Clay was asked what in particular needs improvement, he mentioned his punch, where to hit defensive players and his head placement.

“It’s all correctable,” Clay added. “I just want to be a person who’s dependable.”


Running backs:

The holes weren’t there Sunday, but it’s not like Lamar Miller or Thomas did much to create on their own.

Miller averaged just 0.7 yards after contact per attempt – second-worst in the league. Thomas was only slightly better at 1.4.

By way of comparison, Adrian Peterson averaged 5.4 yards per attempt after contact. Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said that aspect of their game “absolutely” needs to improve, “no question about it.”

“I feel like as the season continues, the more games we get, we’re going to get better at that,” said Thomas, who managed just 14 yards on 8 carries.

Miller was even more ineffective, needing 10 rushes to gain 3 yards. He has had days like that before, going for just 29 yards on 16 carries against North Carolina during his final year at the University of Miami. The next game, he was just 7 yards shy of 100.

The Dolphins also have this going for them: The Colts’ front seven should be far more welcoming than Cleveland’s was. Indianapolis surrendered 171 rushing yards to the Raiders in Week 1.

“I think we will never have a game like that again where we rush for 20 yards,” Thomas said.

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