Earlier this week, we had over 2,700 people vote in our Brandon Marshall "Keep or Cut" poll - the most we've had to date. Surprisingly, almost 500 people (16%) voted to cut the team's top offensive play-maker.
Today we focus on a player that isn't as high profile as Marshall but that is quietly a Miami Dolphins fan favorite.
Why the Dolphins should keep him
What Lousaka brings to this offense is pretty obvious - he's a short yardage monster. And if you weren't aware of just how dominant he's been, consider these eye-popping numbers.
In 2010, Polite carried the ball 15 times on 3rd or 4th and one yard to go, converting 14 of those carries into first downs. His 3rd and one conversion percentage of 92.3% (12 for 13) led all NFL running backs in those situations. For the record, five of those 14 converted first downs kept alive drives that eventually resulted in touchdowns.
This wasn't a one year thing, either. His entire three year career with the Dolphins has been just as dominant in terms of his short yardage excellence. He's carried the ball 43 times since 2008 on 3rd or 4th and one yard to go, converting a whopping 41 of those carries into first downs (95.3%). Of those converted first downs, 20 were on drives that resulted with touchdowns.
His short yardage prowess is what has stolen the hearts of many Dolphins fans. The crowd even chants "Loooooouuuuuu" when he gets the football and converts in short yardage situations. Getting rid of a popular player like Polite isn't going to warm fans up to this team - especially if the mediocre play continues in 2011.
Why the Dolphins should cut him
The Dolphins struggled mightily to run the football in 2010 after running for over 2,200 yards in '09. Miami ended the season with just 1,643 yards, averaging the second lowest yards per carry (3.7) in the league. While the offensive line was obviously a major issue, another issue that fans seem to be overlooking was the terrible lead-blocking of Lousaka Polite.
I remember seeing Polite bust some heads while opening up holes for Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown in '08 and '09. But last year, I saw Polite completely whiff on a number of defenders - if he even saw them at all.
The league is also getting away from using fullbacks. And with Dan Henning no longer running the offense, we're probably going to see less of the fullback in 2011. Brian Daboll's offense is said to have more "spread elements" to it than we've grown accustomed to. With a versatile and athletic H-back like rookie Charles Clay now in the mix as well, Polite's role in this offense is going to dwindle.
Lousaka is due $1.35 million in 2011. With the likely return of a salary cap under the new CBA (whenever it finally gets completed), the Dolphins might end up having to spend that money elsewhere. The cheaper and more versatile Clay has fullback experience, too, meaning Polite's days in Miami could be numbered.