Ricky Williams has been a little better, but 3.2 yards per carry is certainly nothing to be proud of. Is this a sign of things to come, or will the R&R Express be as good as ever once the games start meaning something? The struggling interior offensive line has to be the center of attention if we want to play the blame game. It looks like the Dolphins will enter the season with at least two new starters at the guard spots, with Richie Incognito currently holding it down on the left side and John Jerry likely a lock on the right.
Both struggled to produce any push against the Falcons defensive line last Friday night, and consequently Ronnie and Ricky really had nothing to work with. Heading into the season, most projected run blocking to be the strength of both Incognito and Jerry's game, so what exactly is the problem? There has been a lot of shuffling this preseason, though, so you have to think the line as a whole will steadily improve when the unit begins to gel.
But how long will that take? Opening day is only 11 days away after all, and the Dolphins can't afford to lose to a team like Buffalo when arguably one of the toughest stretches in the entire league awaits in Weeks 2-9. Could it be that lackluster pulling has caused the downgrade? Incognito has always been a below average puller, the front office new that when they acquired him, and Jerry doesn't exactly shine in the category.
That still doesn't explain the lack of push last Friday night, though, so while this O-line isn't going to pull as well as last year's unit with Justin Smiley, that's no excuse for the lack of execution from the ground game.
To be fair to the interior offensive line, in my opinion anyway, Ronnie and Ricky haven't hit the hole (when there is one that is) with as much burst as I have seen in the past. Is that only because motivation is considerably lower in a meaningless game, or have they both possibly hit the running back wall that can make even the most elite of backs average at best?
That theory is a little extreme for my liking. Ricky hitting the wall at 33 years old is believable, but considering he spent nearly three whole years out of football, that he's split the workload with Ronnie in last three season's that he's played, and that the yoga junkie takes very good care of his body, I'm still holding on to hope that he's got one or two productive years left in the tank.
I'm not buying Ronnie hitting the wall one bit. Yes, he's beginning to creep up near that 30 year plateau, but he's only got one full-16 game season under his belt, and Ricky's presence has limited his carries to still under 1,000 for his career.
Let me just say, I know I'm getting a little worked up over just preseason games, and I know Ronnie and Ricky have only carried the ball a combined 28 times, but it's just a tad bit alarming when the first thought of losing something you thought was a done deal enters your mind.
So will this running game bounce back and return to it's elite form in time for the regular season? I would be willing to bet that it will, and I think worse case scenario now is they struggle a bit out of the gates, but eventually right the ship by the third or fourth game.
And I think it's something Sparano wants to nip in the butt as soon as possible. I think we see a concentrated effort to get the running game going in Dallas tomorrow night. Dallas supposedly won't play their starters much, if at all, so hopefully we see a dominating ground attack get a little momentum rolling as the preseason comes to a conclusion.