The numbers would have you ever consider the J Practice has misplaced a few of its steam.
Miami Dolphins operating again Jay Ajayi has cooled off significantly following that purple-scorching October and early November streak of massive video games that thrust him onto the nationwide scene.
These days of 204 yards towards Pittsburgh, adopted by 214 yards towards Buffalo turned 111 yards towards the New York Jets, then seventy nine yards, then seventy seven, and in two of the previous three weeks Ajayi has been within the forty-yard-per-recreation orbit.
Certainly, he has averaged beneath three-yards per carry in two of the previous three video games for his worst stretch of the season.
However the Dolphins consider that is no time to be taking a look at Jay Ajayi sideways. The operating again, nicknamed the J Practice, hasn’t essentially been derailed.
It’s extra the opposite issues going across the operating recreation that has negatively impacted Ajayi’s manufacturing of late — issues comparable to accidents to key gamers, and the standard of the competitors.
“Coming off a few of these accidents we’ve had up entrance, some shifting items, and we performed some good defensive fronts, that’s the one factor that myself and coaches have been reminding him of,” coach Adam Gase stated Wednesday. “Simply keep in mind we’ve performed some good groups … And the groups which were good on protection, it’s been the entrance seven that has been the power of all of those groups that we’ve performed.”
So the competitors has been good. The Ravens, for instance, have the NFL’s No. 1 rush protection. they restricted Ajayi to forty five yards on 18 carries. Arizona, final week’s opponent, is No. four towards the run. And Ajayi rushed for less than forty eight yards on 20 carries towards them.
So the opposite guys are getting paid, too.
However, my private opinion right here as a result of it’s my darn column, that’s not a superb excuse. It’s a reality to think about. Nevertheless it shouldn’t be an excuse.
Good operating groups run the ball properly more often than not, together with towards good opponents, identical to good cross groups don’t merely fold up and cease passing when dealing with a great secondary. Are you able to think about the New England Patriots saying they can’t throw the soccer towards good secondaries? Or the Seahawks saying they will’t play good protection towards good quarterbacks?
You’re both good at one thing otherwise you’re not.
This, nevertheless, is a extra acceptable rationale for Ajayi’s current struggles:
The Dolphins offensive line is beat up. Mike Pouncey was positioned on injured reserve this week and it’s no coincidence Ajayi’s roll started when Pouncey acquired into the lineup after lacking video games early within the season due to his preliminary hip damage.
Pouncey performed 5 video games and the Dolphins operating recreation almost doubled in manufacturing. Pouncey went out and we’re again to pedestrian numbers.
That’s not the one drawback. Different gamers additionally concerned within the operating recreation have additionally been injured and though they’re now enjoying.
“When we’ve some guys which have some limitations so far as (Branden Albert) is enjoying with one hand, (Laremy) Tunsil comes again from a (shoulder) damage and he’s not one hundred pc,” Gase stated.
He didn’t point out Jarvis Landry’s shoulder has been hurting so which may have an effect on blocking downfield. DeVante Parker had a again damage so ditto on the downfield blocking.
So the task for the Dolphins relative to Ajayi and their operating recreation is to stay affected person and proceed to consider what the operating again is doing is sweet sufficient.
That’s been exhausting for Ajayi.
“It’s robust to not get annoyed since you need to have the ability to create that output,” Ajayi stated. “You need that manufacturing. It’s robust once you take a look at the top of the sport and the stats type of don’t showcase what you are feeling is occurring on the market. However that’s what it’s and it’s motivating to maintain going on the market, maintain doing perhaps one thing extra, simply making an attempt to maintain pushing myself to get again to the excessive manufacturing degree we had earlier than.”
However, once more, the Dolphins don’t really feel prefer it’s about Ajayi.
“I don’t need him to vary something he’s doing,” Gase stated, “as a result of he’s doing precisely what we’d like him to do and he’s doing — precisely the identical factor he did once we had these huge-time dashing numbers.
“He simply can’t get annoyed considering it’s one thing with him, the place that’s why the operating recreation might be particular typically, as a result of it takes your complete unit. It takes the entrance, it takes the tight ends, it takes the quarterback ensuring he’s doing his job and making an out. It takes the large receivers blocking down the sector, after which it takes him simply being affected person and doing precisely what everyone is aware of he’s imagined to do. And he’s completed that.”
Ajayi understands, however all that being stated, he nonetheless needs to regain the magic of his prior manufacturing.
“We’ve to seek out what we have been doing earlier than, easy methods to get that prime manufacturing, and discover methods to get again to that,” he stated.
The Dolphins had success operating the soccer towards the Jets within the first assembly. And the Jets, a Prime 5 run protection on the time, have struggled some in that division recently and at the moment are No. 12 towards the run.
However Gase, Ajayi and most people inside the Dolphins group consider they’re near having some strong success, if not the attention-popping sort of accomplishments from earlier this season.
“I imply we’re a shoelace away so many various occasions to the place swiftly that 5-yard achieve goes to be 25.” Gase stated. “We’ve been shut fairly a couple of occasions. Final recreation, there have been a few them that have been simply so near being explosive runs. I do know everyone needs to get caught up with the numbers, however we’re type of taking a look at every play individually and saying, ‘OK, this was good. We’re shut. We’ve simply acquired to complete this a bit of higher.’
“So I’m not getting discouraged by numbers proper now. I do know if we hold giving him touches and giving him alternatives, and we get again in a rhythm and we get guys wholesome as we end this factor out, I feel we’re going to start out having the quantity manufacturing be higher.”