Photos and VideosMore Photos and Videos
After Miami Dolphins RB Reggie Bush injured his knee at the end of the second half in Sunday's loss to the New York Jets, the Dolphins' offense was not the same.
After racking up 171 yards in 4 first half drives, the Dolphins gained 202 yards throughout the rest of the game, but took 9 offensive drives to accomplish that. To put it another way, Miami averaged 43 yards and 2.5 points a drive in the first half, and 22 yards and 1.1 points per drive in the second half.
Bush has by far been Miami's best player on offense this season. He is averaging 6 yards a carry on the ground, adding 10 receptions as well. Considering rookie QB Ryan Tannehill's struggles (no starting quarterback in the NFL has a lower passing rating), the health of Bush is of utmost importance to the Dolphins.
The Dolphins' first two second-half drives Sunday drove this point home. On the first, Ryan Tannehill threw an interception that Laron Landry returned for a touchdown. Landry read Tannehill's eyes the entire play, and easily stepped in front of TE Anthony Fasano for the pick.
On the next drive's first play, backup running back Daniel Thomas fumbled (his second in just 22 attempts this season), giving New York possession again.
But while the offense struggled to move the ball without Bush against New York, the players may deserve less credit for that than offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. Even though Miami outgained New York on the ground 185 yards to 88 (averaging 4.3 yards a carry), Sherman called pass after pass in the fourth quarter, while the Dolphins were nursing a lead.
After the Jets cut the score to 17-13 on a field goal with 13:29, Sherman called 11 passing plays to just 3 runs on Miami's next three drives. Miami's combined time of possession on those three drives was 4 minutes and 29 seconds, giving the Jets plenty of time to drive for a go-ahead touchdown.
Sherman defended his play-calling on Monday. "You're not going to, if you get 75 plays, you're not going to have 75 great calls in a ball game," he told the Miami Herald Monday. "That’s status quo from week-to-week."
While Bush may be able to return for Miami's next game (Sunday at Arizona), even if he does not, the Miami coaching staff may want to take a look at the stats before Sunday. Only 3 teams have more rushing yards than the Dolphins, while the passing game is 25th in the NFL.
If Miami is to defy the odds and make the playoffs this season, the Dolphins will have to run their way there.