After being inactive Week 1 versus the Seattle Seahawks, there was a real possibility the Dolphins could part ways with second-year running back, Jay Ajayi. Arian Foster was penciled in as the team’s starter, and Ajayi began to lose snaps to both Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams. He could have folded, like most young players might do. Instead, he used it as motivation, awakening the beast within. In Week 5, we saw a glimpse of what Ajayi was capable of, albeit in a losing effort versus the Tennessee Titans. It was his first professional game as a starter, playing behind a makeshift offensive line that consisted of both Dallas Thomas and Billy Turner. Despite the banged up offensive line, Ajayi still made the most of his opportunities, carrying the ball 13 times for 42 yards and a touchdown. No one was ready for what would come next.
Miami’s offensive line was finally healthy, as both Laremy Tunsil and Mike Pouncey were in the team’s starting lineup versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was time to see what Jay Ajayi could do behind an offensive line that consisted of four former first-round draft picks. After an increased work load the week prior, Adam Gase decided to ride the hot hand, trusting his play-making running back. Jay Ajayi answered the calling. With the rock in hand, Ajayi looked decisive, using his vision to find the open lanes. He showcased his deceptively fast speed, in addition to his ability to cut on a dime. Ajayi bullied defenders, running through them like a wrecking ball. Ajayi looked like one of the league’s best running backs, gashing the Steelers for 204 yards and two touchdowns.
The Jay Train had finally arrived.
Prior to the 2016 season, if you took the time to look through the NFL record books, you would have noticed only three players had rushed for back-to-back 200-yard games in NFL history. O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell, and Ricky Williams. That was until the Dolphins and Bills played in Week 7 of the 2016 season. Buffalo came into the game with a solid run defense, and no one expected the Dolphins to have similar success versus a Rex Ryan defense. Jay Ajayi had other plans, as he ran his way into the NFL record books. Ajayi rushed for 214 yards on 28 carries. He also scored a touchdown. If possible, he looked even better than he did the week before against Pittsburgh. He was decisive, and showed quick burst as he exploded through the open run lanes. He helped in pass protection, and did everything the coaching staff could ask of him. It was clear, the Dolphins found themselves a workhorse running back.
The Dolphins had a Bye this past weekend, which seemed to be the only thing that could stop Ajayi as of late. Miami’s opponent this week is the New York Jets, who currently sit at 3-5 and in last place in the AFC East. The Jets bolster the league’s best run defense, allowing only 74.0 yards per game. Opposing running backs average a mere, 3.3 yards per carry vs the Jets. That doesn’t mean running backs haven’t had success against the Jets. In fact, a lot of that has to do with how poor New York’s secondary is, which currently ranks dead last in the NFL. In the past, Bowles’ defenses have been exceptional against the run, and this unit isn’t very different. So which will break this Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium? Will it be the Jet’s #1 ranked defense, or Jay Ajayi, who is currently averaging 6.4 yards per carry? I’m going to go with the latter.
No running back in NFL History has ever rushed for three back-to-back 200-yard games. Not O.J. Not Earl. Not even Ricky Williams himself could achieve that feat. It’s too soon to know whether or not Ajayi’s career will be as successful as those Hall of Fame running backs. One thing is for certain, Jay Ajayi and the Dolphins offensive line understand the opportunity which lies before them.
On Wednesday, Pro-Bowl Center Mike Pouncey made it very clear what his intentions were.
Behind a talented offensive line that continues to get better each week, Jay Ajayi will look to do something no other player has ever achieved. Some may let the recent success get to their head, but Ajayi understands what’s most important.
When asked his thoughts on the possibility of becoming the only running back in NFL history to record back-to-back-to-back 200-yard games, Ajayi said.
I hope we can all witness Jay Ajayi make history, this Sunday vs the New York Jets.