After taking a little time out from my team analysis to discuss the shelf life of the wildcat as part of our offense, it only seems logical to pick up the discussion again by taking a look at our running unit. I’ll start off by saying that although I do indeed like Henne and would love for him to get the #1 WR he needs to get to that next level; I do not believe that this team will or should become strictly a passing team. We all know we are good at running the ball (we had the #4 rushing offense in 2009), and although I would like to see the passing game and the rushing game striking a balance I want to see that balance come as a result of us stepping up our passing game without sacrificing the run; if we can find a way to do this (and I believe we have the necessary tools) our offense will be unstoppable this upcoming season.
Ronnie Brown.- There has been a lot of talk about whether or not Ronnie will come back to play for the Dolphins again next season. He has chosen not to opt out of his contract and even said that a contract extension would be ideal for him. Now, I don’t think they’ll offer him an extension after coming off an injury but I sure would love to see him here at least one more year. Sure, he might be injury prone but he is a power runner who produces when we need him to.
Before his injury last season, Ronnie had played 9 games and led the Dolphins in rushing yards and carries. During those 9 games he rushed 648 yards in 147 carries, averaging about 4.41 yards a carry. He was ranked fifth in the AFC and tenth in he NFL. He also scored 8 TDs and fumbled only once.
Ronnie is a very productive guy and I believe that his experience will be invaluable to the younger guys on the team who have shown great promise. I really don’t see how getting rid of Ronnie will strengthen our team next season and I really hope to see him back.
Ricky Williams.- During the 2009 season Ricky Williams proved that he still has what it takes by rushing for 1121 yards in 241 carries, setting an NFL record for the longest span between 1000 rushing yard seasons. Those rushing yards led to 11 TDs. In the final games of the season when Ricky was a starter even though the wildcat became a much less prominent part of our game, he was able to keep our rushing attack going and he had all of us fans screaming “Run Ricky, Run” every time we saw him take off.
After signing a one year contract extension through 2010 last year, Ricky announced that he plans to retire as a Dolphin after the 2010 season, and after the way he performed this past season I would hope that Ricky gets an opportunity to have a more prominent role throughout next season than he did at the beginning of the 2009 one. As I said before he proved to us that he has it in him, so I believe we should give him the chance to prove it to us one last time.
Lousaka Polite.- Polite is our go to guy in 3rd and 1 or 4th and 1 situations, he was put in this position 16 times this season during 14 different drives and managed to get us a first down every time.8 of those drives ended up in a touchdown.
As a fullback he has been one of the players that has impressed me the most not only with his ability to get us those critical downs but also with his blocking ability and the resilience with which he plays the game, and I believe he will continue to grow throughout the offseason. This is definitely one of those guys that we have to hold onto.
Lex Hilliard.- I believe Hilliard has shown the potential to be developed into a good RB. He rushed for 89 yards in 23 carries averaging 3.87 yards per carry and scoring 1TD; he also managed a decent number of receiving yards including 2 TDs as well. With Ricky retiring after next season I believe that we should put in the time to develop Hilliard, he has the potential to do some great things for us in the future.
The other players currently in our roster who are part of our running unit are running backs Tristan Davis who was signed to future contract on January 7th, 2010; Kory Sheets who was signed off the San Francisco 49ers practice squad on October 13th, 2009; and Patrick Cobbs who was placed on the IR list after tearing a knee ligament in the game against the Jets week 5. Also, fullback Rolly Lumbala who was signed from the BC Lions of the CFL; this is the second time Lumbala makes it to the Dolphins, he originally tried out for the Dolphins as an undrafted rookie in May of 2008.
I really do believe that our running unit is not only pretty solid but has players in place that are being prepared as replacements. The opportunity for upgrades is always going to be present but with so many other key positions needing to be addressed I feel as though this is a unit we can rely on next season.
The following are some of the RBs who will be free agents in 2010: Cadillac Williams (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Darren Sproles (San Diego Chargers), Mike Bell (New Orleans Saints), LenDale White (Tennessee Titans), Leon Washington (New York Jets).
The following are some of the RBs who will enter the draft in 2010: CJ Spiller (Clemson), Jahvid Best (California), Jonathan Dwyer (Georgia Tech), Anthony Dixon (Mississippi State), Joe McKnight (USC)
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