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Dolphins Ground Game Looking For Jumpstart Sunday

Posted Oct 26, 2012

A rested Reggie Bush and O-line goes on the road.



Three weeks in a row of facing stacked boxes designed to stop the run put a small dent in the production generated by the Miami Dolphins’ ground game. This Sunday against the Jets, Miami is hoping for a definitive resurgence.

The bye week gave starting running back Reggie Bush time to heal up his bumps and bruises and his offensive line to refresh in order to be able to start opening up holes for him again. They will face a Jets defense currently ranked 30th against the run but with a physical reputation, and this sets up as the perfect test and as a chance to further help rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

“I think it’s really important and I think that’s been our focus and this whole week is to get the run game going and kind of take things off of Ryan’s plate and make things a little easier on him,” veteran left guard Richie Incognito said. “If we can run against those tough looks it makes passing the ball a lot easier. Once you start running against those defenses and then start popping them on passes it really just loosens everything up.” In the first meeting between these two teams on September 23rd at Sun Life Stadium, the Dolphins rolled over the Jets to the tune of 185 rushing yards, with Bush grinding out 61 on 10 carries in the first half. He suffered a knee injury on the last play before intermission and did not return to the game in the second half, with New York coming out on top in overtime, 23-20.

Since then, Bush has rushed for a total of 132 yards in the last three games and as a team Miami is averaging just 85.3 yards per game after putting up 174.6 yards per game in the first three weeks. In fact, the Dolphins gained more yards on the ground (263) in the 35-13 rout of the Oakland Raiders in Week 2 than they have in the last three games combined (256), but a healthier Bush could help reverse that trend.

“I’m definitely a lot stronger than what I was a couple weeks ago,” said Bush, who is still ranked seventh in the AFC among all running backs with 434 yards and three touchdowns. “I feel a lot better. About as healthy as you can get as this point in the season is where I am. I feel good and I feel ready to play.”

That news certainly is music to the ears of Head Coach Joe Philbin. Even though Tannehill came through with some solid passing performances before the bye, Philbin and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman are all about having a balanced attack.

Sunday’s game is one of those crucial division battles in the AFC East that can seriously impact the standings and down the road each team’s playoff chances. In order for Miami to avoid getting swept in the season series, Philbin knows how valuable Bush, Daniel Thomas, Lamar Miller, fullback Jorvorskie Lane and the offensive line have to be.

“We need to find better rhythm and consistency in the running game, no question about it,” he said. “I think it will be very beneficial to us. Let’s be honest, they have a very good blitz package, they have a good pressure package. They create some confusion and have done that successfully for a long time. The better we are in terms of favorable stick situations, the more effective we are going to be.”

Philbin won’t have to send that message to Incognito and the other offensive linemen twice because they took a lot of pride in what they were creating those first three weeks of the season and want to get that vibe going again.

“We haven’t had success running against those tough defenses of late and we got some tough looks and were really just kind of in disarray,” Incognito said. “That’s when Ryan took over and really beat some teams with the pass, so I think it’s really important that we get into a good rhythm running the ball early and stay with it. I think once the running game gets greased up it’s good for all of our backs because all of our backs run real well in this system.”

Come Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium, that group will be center stage.