When the Miami Dolphins traded up early on the final day of the 2012 draft, analysts and fans alike were most certain GM Jeff Ireland and company would be selecting a receiver with the 97th pick overall. After pro-bowler Brandon Marshall reunited with long time pal Jay Cutler in Chicago, the Dolphins rebuild was in full effect, and another physical receiver seemed to be the missing piece to the Miami puzzle. But like most of Ireland’s previous drafts, finishing the puzzle and using key building blocks were thrown out the window, because…. Well puzzles are boring as hell, and building through the draft is for those clam chowder eating fools over in Foxborough, Massachusetts. So “With the 97th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select. Lamar Miller, running back, University of Miami”.
Lamar Miller,finished his tenure at the University of Miami with 1,918 yards and 15 TD’s in his 23 game appearances. Though Miller’s 4.4/40 at the combine had many teams very intrigued, long-term health concerns, such as a pre-draft shoulder surgery, scared mostly all but a few brave souls away.
Upon being drafted Miller and classmate Olivier Vernon were the first pair of UM prospects to be selected in the same draft since 1991.
Though the hardest part was over for Miller, the now Miami Dolphin had landed himself in very uncharted and unfamiliar territory. The Miami Dolphins at the time in 2012 were stockpiled with quality runners such as former Heisman winner (now removed) Reggie Bush and the Dolphins 2011 second round draft pick Daniel Thomas, many were unsure if Lamar would stick in Miami, stating Miller was “a home run threat who lacked goal line and pass protection ability”.
Miller’s rookie season had its bumps and bruises as do most rookies backs in their first season. But, Miller finished the season on a high note with a solid 250 yards on 51 carries (4.9 YPC). The rookie also seemed to be gaining leverage on Daniel Thomas, who finished with 325 yards on 91 carries (3.5 YPC).
In 2013, Lamar Miller finally got his first big break. The front office began to gain faith in the second year back. Reggie Bush was not resigned, and as the stars aligned Miller set out to continue the impressive numbers his predecessors had achieved season before and hoping to become Miami’s next 1k man.
Unfortunately, Miller would not achieve this goal in 2013 finishing the season with 709 yards on 177 carries and 2 TD’s. What about the other Miami back Daniel Thomas, how did his 2013 fare for him? Thomas finished with a minuscule 406 yards on 109 carries, but reaped the benefits of goal line situations and 3rd downs finishing the season with 4 touchdowns. Why was Miller snubbed for carries by a less dominate and talented back? Thomas had never come close to even matching Millers 700 yard season. Was Miller’s lack of goal-line possessions fear of what scouting reports had warned about just a few years prior? Or was it purely a “save face” move by Ireland, who traded up 17 spots passing over the likes of DeMarco Murray and Steven Ridley to take Thomas at the 62 spot?
Fast Forward to 2015
Miller is coming off a career high season in 2014. (216 carries, 1099 yards, and 8 TD’s) The Dolphins had found their first 1,000 yard rusher since 2011, and yet they still were weary of the talent “Miller Time” possessed. Miller did not rank among the top 10 in carries but was a top 15 in yards and yards per carry. The Dolphins ran a total of 330 times in 2014 (LeSean McCoy ran 312) and yet Miller finished only 201 yards behind McCoy on 96 less carries.
This season has not only further continued the letdown for Lamar Miller, but his productivity and carries have also decreased. The 24 year old back has had 9 games under 15 carries, and even at 20 carries for the last four games Lamar Miller will have only 2 carries over his 216 of 2014.
From Jeff Ireland to Joe Philbin the Dolphins have failed their emerging star, who they seemly have taken for granted after taking a chance on him just four short seasons ago.
Miami’s offense is built around the run game and the numbers further tell that truth.
• Dolphins are 5-0 this season when Miller carries 13+ times.
• 0-7 when Miller carries 13 and under
• Miller ranks 7th this season in yards per carry.
• Dolphins are 1-7 when Miller has less than 100 all purpose.
In early 2013 Miller was quoted as saying his goal was to achieve a 1,500 yard rushing season. As it stands, it seems this goal is unattainable while Miller is in Miami.
If Lamar Miller decides to pack his bags and leave Miami via free agency, can anyone blame him? From bad coaching and a failing offensive line, to downright trying to find another running back (Moreno, Ajayi), it’s seemed that the odds have been stacked against Miller since his arrival in 2012, and that the Miami Dolphins once again have not been able to utilize the talent of a potential star.