One of Miami’s first moves on March 17, when free agency officially began, was to acquire free agent running back Chase Edmonds on a two-year deal. While the addition held the spotlight, the team also added Raheem Mostert on a one-year deal.
Following the money, and the fact that Mostert was recovering from a knee injury that forced him to miss most of the 2021 season, the assumption was Edmonds would be the featured back.
Edmonds was on the field for 63 percent of snaps in Week 1 against the New England Patriots, but that number has dropped each week. Mostert, on the other hand, has been on the field for 46 snaps in each of the last two weeks.
On Sunday against the New York Jets, Mostert notched 113 yards on 18 carries, both season-bests for the Dolphins. With a third-string rookie quarterback under center, coach Mike McDaniel leaned on Mostert, who showcased all the skills needed to thrive in a zone-blocking scheme.
"It’s kind of like you’re riding a wave," Edmonds said when describing the outside zone. "Once you hit that wave, you’ve got to hit it and go." Mostert never stops riding that wave, leaving his options open. He escapes the trenches, jumps outside to a one-on-one matchup. pic.twitter.com/rI4dJfdkBk— Jake Mendel (@JMendel94) October 13, 2022
Edmonds comparing each play to a wave is the perfect example of what Mike McDaniel is trying to accomplish with the zone-blocking scheme. Keep your feet moving, keep riding the wave and wait for something to happen.
Mostert pauses for just a second behind center Connor Williams, forcing the linebackers (#57 & #8) to pick a lane. Greg Little gets upfield, but can't get a hand on the defender. pic.twitter.com/hBkoXgsGfH— Jake Mendel (@JMendel94) October 13, 2022
Before last Thursday, Mostert’s longest run of the year was 11 yards. Over the last two weeks, however, he’s ripped off runs of 24 and 25 yards. While Miami’s rushing attack took a few weeks to find its rhythm, having receivers like Tyreek Hill blocking downfield helped to isolate one-on-one matchups at the second level.
Ride the wave and find the open lane. Always fun to watch receivers block downfield. pic.twitter.com/lXwgLpTtkX— Jake Mendel (@JMendel94) October 13, 2022
What separates Mostert from the pack is his ability to disengage and prevent defenders from getting a shot at a simple tackle.
It's impressive to watch Mostert avoid tackles. Two different defenders were face-to-face with him and he just shuffled away. pic.twitter.com/o1s8MSUGAH— Jake Mendel (@JMendel94) October 13, 2022
The Jets are in the bottom half of the league, surrendering 4.5 yards per rush, but Sunday’s performance can be a promising sign moving forward.
Mostert looks like the player who rushed for a career-best 772 yards on the ground in 2019 and the team totaled 137 rushing yards against the Jets, a sharp increase from Miami’s average of 82.8 yards per game, which ranks No. 30 in the NFL.
To summarize, these are moves you see at the Dance Dance Revolution machine at the arcade. pic.twitter.com/Bnum85qaIy— Jake Mendel (@JMendel94) October 13, 2022
With all that being said, it’s important to not write off Edmonds just yet — despite just seven yards on six carries over the last two weeks. In the short term, Mostert was held out of practice on Wednesday with a knee injury. Additionally, McDaniel has always been a coach determined to maximize a player’s strengths.
“I think that comes down to McDaniel finding out what he likes about what each back uses. It’s kind of just like a puzzle piece,” Edmonds said earlier this offseason when asked about how his head coach will utilize the running backs. “You have to figure out which puzzle fits the piece at that time. If he feels like he needs something for a certain play, he might call on Myles or Raheem and if he feels like he needs something else for another play, he might call on me, so that’s why he is the head coach and gets paid what he gets paid. He has to figure that out.”