No coaching decision was more puzzling to observers — and infuriating to fans — than Adam Gase’s refusal to use Kenyan Drake more than he did.
Despite rushing for a team-high four touchdowns and averaging 4.5 yards per carry, Drake was a spot player in 2018.
His carries actually decreased from the season before (133 to 120), although his catch total jumped from 32 to 53.
Drake’s role as a backup behind Frank Gore clearly didn’t sit great with him, and he even refused to rule out demanding a trade in the offseason last December.
But much has changed since then. Gase is now coaching the Jets. Gore is a Buffalo Bill.
And Drake has a fresh start with Brian Flores.
But if Drake was hoping that he would enter the team’s offseason conditioning program, which begins Monday, as the team’s workhorse, he better temper expectations.
Flores, speaking at the NFL’s annual meeting in Phoenix on Tuesday, danced around the topic — after making a joke about the Miami Miracle.
“I think Drake is an explosive player,” Flores said. “I’ve seen it firsthand, unfortunately. I think he’s a talented player. He catches the ball well. He’s a good runner. He runs hard. He does a lot of really good things.”
But. There’s always a but.
“But I think, and I’ll say this to all of the players, they’re going to make the most of their … The opportunities they get on the field will be up to them,” Flores continued. “Period. If they practice well, if they’re smart, they work hard, they’re tough, they block, they catch the ball consistently, they hit the hole correctly, then they’re going to play. That’s all of the backs. That’s [Kalen] Ballage, that’s Drake, that’s period. By committee or workhorse, those are phrases that people throw out there but I think the guys who perform at practice and produce in games, those are the guys that are going to be out there.”
So, Drake will have to fight for his spot on the field.
Which makes sense.
Still, that wasn’t exactly a yes or no to the original question.
So we asked it another way.
Are you open philosophically to giving one back 275, 300 carries in a season?
“It depends on the back.”
Do you think RB Kenyan Drake can handle that kind of workload?
“I think if that’s what’s best for the team, then that’s what we do. That will always be kind of my thought process on it. If that’s what’s best for the Miami Dolphins, then that’s what we’ll do. We’ve got some good backs. Ballage is a good back, as well. We may draft a back. We may not draft a back. We may pick up a back as a college free agent. I don’t know. But the guys who go out and practice well and prepare the right way and block in pass protection, those are the guys who will be out on the field.”
In other words: Stay tuned.