The Miami Backfield ... Lamar Miller vs. Daniel Thomas
After an offseason of Lamar Miller hype, it’s been a near split between Miller and 3rd year back Daniel Thomas as we head into Week 5. It’s hard to figure just what HC Joe Philbin and OC MIke Sherman are up to here. It’s also probably fair to include GM Jeff Ireland in this discussion, since he is what’s left of the regime that made Daniel Thomas a 2nd round selection back in 2011. It’s also worth noting that Ireland traded up to get him--using three total selections to secure the big back. It’s not a bad conspiracy theory. GMs don’t like to give up on backs they traded so much for.
Conspiracy aside, there is a football explanation for what is going on and it’s about pass protection. When the Dolphins go to passing mode, they usually have Thomas on the field. And, they have been in passing mode for most of the season. It does make some sense. Thomas is more experienced and he’s got about 15 pounds on Miller which helps when linebackers come up the middle. Still, when you watch the tape, Miller does ok when allowed to protect. He’ll certainly get better if they allow him more opportunity.
The real problem I see with how the Dolphins are deploying their two tailbacks is that they are tipping their hand. The Saints defense knew that Miami was throwing when Thomas was in the game. The threat of the run was gone. There’s no way that an incremental improvement in pass protection is worth telegraphing your offense.
If Miami continues this obstinance, it will hurt them. They either need to let Thomas get his fair share of carries and not just snaps, or they need to use Miller more to keep the threat of the run in the mind of the defense.
We’ll be watching this closely. Miller’s fantasy value is very much dependent on the outcome here. It stands to reason that Miller will gain a bigger share, but that’s just theory at this point. We never thought this situation could play out this way for this long, but yet here we are.