The Miami Dolphins are ridding themselves of running back Kalen Ballage, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, and it’s about damn time. Per Rapoport, the Dolphins have traded Ballage to the New York Jets in exchange for a conditional draft pick. How the Dolphins managed to convince New York to trade for Ballage is beyond me, but hey, Adam Gase is going to be Adam Gase.
I mean no disrespect to Ballage. I don’t know the guy. I’m sure he’s a wonderful human being, but gosh darn-it was he a poor runner of the football during his time in aqua and orange. Let’s do a recap, shall we?
Ballage was selected in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft by your Miami Dolphins. At the time, he was a developmental project behind the legendary Frank Gore and a young up-and-comer in Kenyan Drake. Expectations were low, and so, when Ballage managed to “succeed” in his very limited snaps over the course of the 2018 season, fans and media personnel alike began to expect big things from him going forward. But boy, were we ever wrong.
How were we hoodwinked so tremendously? It all stems from a Week 15 game against the Minnesota Vikings, a game in which Ballage looked like the next coming of Ricky Williams... for one play. One the first play of the second half, Ballage took an inside handoff from Ryan Tannehill as Miami’s offensive line opened up a wide enough whole for the rookie runner to turn on the jets and blast off for a 75-yard touchdown. In a season in which Ballage only carried the ball 36 total times and accumulated just 191 total rushing yards, that run was enough to augment his yards per carry mark in such a way that, on paper, he looked like one of the most efficient ball-carriers in the league. But let’s take a closer look at his 2018 rushing stats both with and without the 75-yard score.
With: 36 carries, 191 yards, 5.31 yards per carry
Without: 35 carries, 116 yards, 3.31 yards per carry
Now, I know it’s subtle, but if you look closely, you’ll see that Ballage was flat out mediocre aside from his one explosive run in 2018. In 2019, there were no long runs to save his stat line. In fact, Ballage was downright awful in 2019. The sophomore starter, who took over for the departed Kenyan Drake after the latter was traded to Arizona, averaged a paltry 1.8 yards per carry this past season. 1.8! That’s the NFL’s lowest single-season yards per carry mark in 70 years!
And hey, remember this absolute goof committed against the New England Patriots following a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass?
kalen ballage really just ducked at a pass pic.twitter.com/5pI7T2bK5p— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) September 15, 2019
Let me say again: I have nothing against Ballage himself. He played for a talent-stripped team with turnstiles for an offensive line. That said, when Myles Gaskin (a 7th-round pick), and a running back nicknamed “The Intern” (Patrick Laird), are far exceeding your yards per carry mark, something is wrong. Here’s to hoping Ballage is able to rekindle his NFL career elsewhere. We all know it wasn’t happening for him in Miami.
With Ballage off the roster, the Dolphins now have starters Matt Breida and Jordan Howard leading the way for the running game, with Gaskin, Laird, and the newly acquired Salvon Ahmed competing for backup spots.