The Miami Dolphins will head into Sunday’s 1 p.m. home matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals with a lot at stake. A win could set them back in the draft order, while a loss could pull them closer to LSU and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow.
Look, winning is important to a team and its culture. The Fins have built a great culture this season despite winning only three games, but now it’s time to lose. The potential of gaining the #1 overall pick and still having built a culture is something all fans would love, but it’s pretty much impossible. It’s going to be hard for the Bengals to win two straight games and if the New York Giants win their final two matchups, it will move the Dolphins to No. 2.
This weekend the Fins will be in what was deemed at the beginning of the season “Tank Bowl V2.” But now most fans understand the Dolphins, unlike the Bengals, aren’t tanking. Cincinnati benched Andy Dalton a few weeks ago and now inserted him back into the line-up. The Bengals primary offensive strategy has been their running game, and their top running back Joe Mixon is listed as questionable.
For the first time this season, both teams will need their running games more than anything else. The forecast from The Weather Channel currently lists an 80 percent chance of rain. This is a good outlook considering that around 5 p.m. on Friday evening, the chance of rain was listed at 100 percent. Now, Miami weather is unpredictable, so this isn’t a lock.
If the rain is coming down hard Sunday afternoon, then Patrick Laird and Myles Gaskin will need to do better than they have recently. They aren’t running behind the best offensive line — hell, not even an average offensive line — but they need to get it going. Somehow, someway, this running game needs to get going. They need to finally get a consistent running game to free up the offense. If the running game can’t get going, I don’t see how any running back on this roster can stay next season.
Laird and Gaskin could stay on the roster, but the team will look for outside options. Among these are Travis Etienne of Clemson, Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin, Cam Akers of Florida State, J.K Dobbins of Ohio State, D’Andre Swift of Georgia and the list goes on and on. It’s not likely that the Fins will use one of their three first-round picks on a running back, but expect to see Dobbins or Swift as potential targets. Dobbins has been a fan favorite of Dolphins fans and has been a consistent runner during his time at Ohio State. Swift had also been a very productive running back and has improved every season. He stepped up in every big game this season when he was called upon. The sleeper candidate is Akers. He recently declared for the draft and even though Florida State played poorly this season, Akers rushed for 1,144 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Today I am joined by Pro Football Network’s Eric Roddy. You can find him on Twitter @RoddyPFN and you can follow me @SamuraiiRadio or click here to go to the Any Given Friday Podcast with co-hosts Eric Wiedeke and Corey Ashburn.