The Miami Dolphins made a flurry of moves during the early days of free agency this offseason.
A lot of those moves were focused on defense. That included signing cornerback Byron Jones and linebacker Kyle Van Noy. They also signed defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah.
However, the Dolphins did make a few moves to bolster the offense as well. That included signing guard Ereck Flowers and center Ted Karras.
Perhaps the most important offensive move they have made so far was signing Jordan Howard. The star running back will make an immediate impact in Miami.
What type of impact, though? Here are three bold predictions for Howard’s 2020 NFL season with the Dolphins.
Over 150 Carries
One hundred-fifty carries might not seem like much. The first three seasons of Howard’s career saw him carry the ball over 250 times each. Last season he had just 119 totes, but that was in just 10 games and in a situation with the Philadelphia Eagles where he was splitting time with Miles Sanders.
Had he played all 16 games at the same pace (11.9 carries per game), Howard would have ended with 190 carries.
So 150 isn’t a lot, right?
Do remember, this is the Dolphins. Miami was absolutely dreadful when it came to running the ball last season.
Kalen Ballade led the team with a mere 74 carries. Ryan Fitzpatrick, the quarterback, led the team in yards (243) and rushing touchdowns (4), while having the third most carries (54).
Now 150 carries seems like a pretty high number.
People might be wary because of how the Dolphins bungled having Kenyon Drake on their team. They didn’t seem to think he fit. They are signing Howard as a free agent, so clearly they see something there. Year one should see a lot of usage out of the talented running back.
New Career-High in Receptions
There is one big problem when it comes to carries. And it’s why Howard’s projected carries are not higher.
The Dolphins were not good last year. They were losing early and often. This meant they had to abandon the run in many games.
If that happens, Howard might not be getting the ball as much as they, or he, would like.
There is an easy solution to that — or, two.
First, they could not abandon the run early. Teams tend to do this too early in games. While the situation could arise that the Dolphins find themselves down 14 at halftime, that doesn’t mean they can’t keep running the ball. Those 3-yard check downs aren’t much of a difference.
Second, and more likely, they could pass it to the running back.
Howard has never been an elite receiving back. He had just 10 receptions for the Eagles in 2019, and his career-high is 29, in his rookie year with the Chicago Bears in 2016.
However, now he’s in a different spot. Last season, Sanders was the obvious choice to be the receiving back. With the Bears there was Tarik Cohen.
Now Howard is the obvious star for the Dolphins’ running back unit though. They need to get him the ball as often as possible. And that means they’ll need to pass him the ball. Thirty-plus receptions, here he comes.
Over Five Rushing Touchdowns
Last season, the Dolphins had 10 rushing touchdowns. Four came from Fitzpatrick (quarterback) and one came from Jakeem Grant (wide receiver).
That means only five came from running backs: Three from Ballage, one from Patrick Laird and one from Myles Gaskin.
Howard’s career-low is six (2016 and 2019).
So something’s got to give in 2020. Either the Dolphins will actually get production from their running back, or Howard will have a new career low in touchdowns.
Bet on Howard coming out on top and giving Miami production from the running back spot. He’s a great mixture of power and finesse, so they should be comfortable using him anywhere on the field, including the red zone. Due to that, no one will vulture touchdowns.
That career low is safe for another season.