DAVIE — There can be little doubt that the Dolphins’ offense will go about as far as the Jay Train can chug along.
But in this young season, Jay Ajayi’s production is down 23 1/2 yards per game.
As you’ll soon see, that’s much less of an indictment on Ajayi than it is the rest of the offense.
Despite a quiet day against New Orleans, which forced the Dolphins to be one dimensional as the afternoon wore on, Ajayi is still averaging 17 carries per game, as he did last season. But his per-carry average is at a career low, 3.6, after three games. That’s a 26.5 percent drop from his breakout season of 1,272 yards last year.
So what’s the problem?
Like a train rambling off its tracks, Ajayi hasn’t had much of a running lane to speak of. Although it’s convenient to think he can create his own holes (and often, he does), there is a limit. And if you want a startling statistic, try this: Of Ajayi’s 184 yards this season, 148 have come after initial contact, according to Pro Football Focus.
To put it another way: 80 percent of the time, Ajayi is having to work as a one-man gang, getting hit at the line of scrimmage or before he even gets that far.
Although Ajayi has played three games to most everybody else’s four, he’s fourth among NFL backs in missed tackles created, 14.
So even though we haven’t seen a monster 200-yard gain from Ajayi, he’s more or less doing his part. Problem is, at 61.3 yards per game, he’s not on pace to break 1,000 (it’s 980). After carrying 28 times for 122 yards against the Chargers in the opener, Ajayi has totaled 23 attempts for 62 yards the past two weeks. And it had to sting that he finished with 46 yards against the Saints in his homecoming game in London.
“Our playmakers can’t make plays if we don’t do what we have to do up front,” guard Jermon Bushrod said. “We all have to be on the same page.”
Coach Adam Gase appeared to be challenging players to do just that after returning from London, making several references Monday to players failing to carry out assignments when discussing offensive shortcomings as a whole.
“If we do our job, if we do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll be fine,” Gase said. “If we keep throwing crap out there and not doing what we’re supposed to do, then it’s going to be what it’s been the last two weeks. We can absolutely clean this up very simply by doing what we’re supposed to do.”
[PHOTO GALLERY: Live images from Dolphins-Saints game in London]
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