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Have the Dolphins Found the Answers at Running Back?

Sony Michel became the latest in a long line of running backs the Miami Dolphins have brought in over the past four years

Duke Johnson. Phillip Lindsay. Jordan Howard. Raheem Mostert. Frank Gore. And now Sony Michel.

Yes, the Miami Dolphins have brought in an awful lot of veteran running backs over the past few years to try to spark their running game, but the aforementioned half-dozen actually aren't even close to comprising the whole list.

We can add Malcolm Brown, Chase Edmonds, Matt Breida, Brandon Bolden, Mark Walton and DeAndre Washington.

That's 12 veteran running backs who joined the Dolphins at some point or another over the past four years — or since the beginning of the 2018 season.

Edmonds, Mostert and Michel are the three veteran newcomers this year and they'll try to break the amazing pattern (and probably not in a good way) set by the previous nine of being one-and-done in Miami.

There's reason to hope and believe this time will be different, though, and that applies to all three of the newcomers.

What the Three New Dolphins RBs Bring

With Mostert, the hope is that his familiarity and past success with the Kyle Shanahan-style offense that new head coach Mike McDaniel figures to employ will make him successful enough for the Dolphins to want to re-sign him next offseason after his one-year contract runs out.

With Edmonds, he signed a two-year contract, therefore should be expected to be back in 2023.

And with Michel, who signed a one-year deal reportedly worth $2.1 million, it's his pedigree as a former first-round pick of the New England Patriots who has been a solid contributor since he entered the NFL in 2017 — even if he hasn't necessarily been a star.

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While it's certainly not fair to point the blame strictly at the running backs, the reality is the Dolphins running game really was not very effective the past three seasons.

In terms of rushing yards per game, the Dolphins were 30th in 2021, 22nd in 2020 and 32nd in 2019. In yards per carry, it was 31st in 2021, 29th in 2020 and 31st in 2019.

Maybe the most depressing stat is the Dolphins' longest run of the past three seasons being a mere 31 yards — by Salvon Ahmed against New England in December 2020.

Can Dolphins Bring Back the Long Run?

Maybe this is where Michel, Mostert and Edmonds can help make a difference.

In his career, Mostert has five runs longer than that 31-yard mark, Edmonds has four and Michel (who's not necessarily known as a speedster) also has four.

Back in 2018, the Dolphins were 18th in rushing yards per game but an impressive ninth in yards per carry at 4.68. That year, the Dolphins had four players with a run longer than 31 yards — Kalen Ballage, Kenyan Drake, Brandon Bolden and Frank Gore.

The last time the Dolphins really thrived with their running game was in 2016 when they were in the top 10 in both yards per game (9th) and per attempt (8th).

That was the year Jay Ajayi had three 200-yard rushing games and made the Pro Bowl. It also was the year the Dolphins had their best offensive line this millennium with four players with at least one Pro Bowl on their resume — Mike Pouncey, Branden Albert, Laremy Tunsil and Jermon Bushrod — along with a former first-round pick (Ja'Wuan James).

So, yes, the offensive line will have to produce for the running game to succeed in 2022.

But the running backs certainly could do their part, and maybe the addition of Michel was the final piece in making sure that happens.