Jay Ajayi’s Train of thought: Stick it to Miami Dolphins with Super Bowl win

Philadelphia Eagles running back Jay Ajayi goes airborne against Atlanta’s Brooks Reed. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Jay Ajayi hasn’t been a Dolphin for half a season, but they’re still on his mind.

After rushing 15 times for 54 yards and a 3.6 average in Philadelphia’s 15-10 divisional victory over Atlanta on Saturday, Ajayi said he hopes to repay the Dolphins for trading him to the Eagles.

Except the way Ajayi put it, it’s more like payback.

“I don’t think it will be redemption until I win the Super Bowl,” Ajayi said, according to NJ.com. “If we can get that done, then I’ll have my redemption.”

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When reporters asked if he’s driven to avenge the Dolphins’ decision to trade him, Ajayi said, “Yes.”

When reporters asked if he’s trying to prove the Dolphins wrong, he again said, “Yes.”

It shouldn’t be a surprise. Ever since he lasted until the fifth round of the 2015 draft, Ajayi has repeatedly said he’ll carry that chip on his shoulder for the rest of his career. That chip became a boulder on Halloween when the Dolphins traded their reigning MVP for a fourth-round pick. Attitude and too many negative runs contributed to the trade.

Ajayi’s efficiency improved with Philly. He played seven games with each team, rushing for 465 yards for the Dolphins and 408 with Philly, but his per-carry average jumped from 3.4 in Miami to 5.8 with the Eagles, who have rotated him with LeGarrette Blount. After scoring eight touchdowns last season, he scored just once, for the Eagles, this season.

Ajayi had the rare opportunity to face the Falcons twice this season in different uniforms. As a Dolphin on Oct. 15, he carried 26 times for 130 yards (a 5.0 average), his final 100-yard game for Miami.

Ajayi’s desire to stick it to the Dolphins got off to a rocky start Saturday. On the second snap of the game, he fumbled, handing the Falcons the ball and leading to a field goal.

To put Ajayi’s 54 yards in perspective, yards were tough to come by all day, as evidenced by the Eagles finishing with 334 and the Falcons 281.

But his day was a mixed bag. Following his fumble, he averaged 8.6 yards on his next five carries.

Then he disappeared, unused for most of the second quarter.

Then he was ineffective. His six third-quarter attempts netted 4 yards, including three runs that failed to gain anything.

In the fourth quarter, he turned a short pass from Nick Foles into a 32-yard gain, setting up a field goal.

“I feel like I played poorly,” Ajayi said.

Eagles reporters focused on why the Jay Train made that unscheduled second-quarter stop. It’s hard to pin the inactivity on just the fumble because Ajayi played extensively right after that.

“I ultimately control the personnel,” coach Doug Pederson said Monday, according to NJ.com. “ … A couple of times you come off a long run, or a big pass, it can be a good time to go a little (up)-tempo. In that case, whoever is the back at the time, we just keep him on the field.

“At that point, (Blount) was heating up a little bit. We wanted to get him going, too.”

Blount had an 8-yard run followed by 1, 1 (for a touchdown), minus-4 and minus-1. Blount, 31, has averaged just 2.7 yards per carry over the past five games, which hardly constitutes “heating up.”

Pederson, also a former Dolphin, said the change wasn’t related to specific plays called because “every back” is expected to know every play.

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