Lamar Miller averaged less than 11 carries per game during his four years with the Miami Dolphins. In college at Miami he averaged only 14.5.
You could say that he’s a lot fresher than most NFL running backs are at 25, because that’s what Miller will be when he opens the next season in the backfield of the Houston Texans.
Or you could say that Miller has yet to prove himself as such a workhorse of a back that coaches can’t wait to utilize in the first quarter or the fourth.
Either way, Texans general manager Rick Smith is ready to take the wrapper off both Miller and his team’s new quarterback, Brock Osweiler, who started just seven games in four seasons at Denver as Peyton Manning’s backup and never would have played at all if Peyton hadn’t gotten injured.
Gotta start somewhere. After all, Smith himself was the youngest GM in the league when the Texans promoted him to that position at the age of 36 a decade ago.
This youth movement might seem a little strange for a franchise that reached the playoffs last year. Houston is coming off a 9-7 season. After all, if the Dolphins of Tony Sparano and Joe Philbin were in the same position, they’d be thinking about tweaking, not torching, the lineup.
Only in the case of Ryan Tannehill, who started from the first game of his rookie season, has Miami really placed the future of the organization in the hands of a young player to see what he could do under fire.
Oh, you have your occasional Jarvis Landry making an early impact, but he had to play his way into the lineup. Not until Week 5 of Landry’s rookie season did he get a start, even though it was clear that Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson were never going to track down as many balls or score as many touchdowns as the kid from LSU.
Ja’Wuan James started right off the bat as a rookie in Miami but he was a first-round draft pick and an offensive lineman. When you invest that much into a player at a position of desperate need, he’d have to be a total bum to sit the bench.
Hopefully new Dolphins coach Adam Gase will be bolder and more demanding with the young players given him, whether they’re draft picks or free agents.
What would he have done with Dion Jordan. How could it have turned out worse than babying the kid the way Philbin and his staff did, worrying that he didn’t have all of his responsibilities down?
We’re going to find out now about Miller and Osweiler in Houston, and if it turns out right they’ll both be in the playoffs for the first time next January. That would be closer to their full potential.
With Miller in Miami, where the coaching was cautious and the blocking mediocre, we never really knew what that might be.