Miami’s outlook at running back looks completely different from how it did just a few months ago. When the Dolphins concluded the 2019 season with wins over the Bengals and Patriots, Patrick Laird and Myles Gaskin took the majority of the handoffs.
The Dolphins, who ranked dead last in rushing yards a season ago, have completely changed their outlook at the position. Just a day after free agency opened, the team reached a two-year, 10 million dollar deal with former Bears and Eagles bell-cow back Jordan Howard.
But Miami wasn’t done yet. On day 3 of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Dolphins got fantastic value in a trade with the 49ers for Matt Breida. With a crowded running back room of which Raheem Mostert took control of during the 2019 playoffs, San Francisco traded Breida to Miami for just a fifth-round pick.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported Miami to be in the market to draft a running back. That DeAndre Swift with the 26th pick. But the first two days of the draft came and went with Chris Grier and company yet to address the position. It’s safe to say that they more than made up for it with the Breida acquisition.
If the Dolphins were to have selected a running back in this year’s draft, that selection would have been Howard’s backup in all likelihood. Now, the question becomes with two age-25 running backs with similar production in 2019, which will head Miami’s backfield?
Breida and Howard had nearly identical totals in 2019: 123 to 119 carries, 623 to 535 rushing yards, and 5.1 to 4.4 in yards per attempt. The only outlier was Howard’s six rushing touchdowns to Breida’s one.
Howard, who has started 48 games in his career to just 14 for Breida, will likely get more carries in the first few weeks of the season. But don’t be surprised if by the middle of the season Brian Flores opts to somewhat split carries between the two.
That would seem to be the ideal way to split carries between two running backs with similar numbers, yet completely different skillsets. With both backs also having a history of injuries, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to limit the load each gets from week to week.
However Miami decides to divvy up the carries this season, it’s getting the 1-2 punch of Howard’s strength and power to go with Breida’s elusiveness and pass-catching ability.