(Note: This continues a series in Daily Dolphin spotlighting members of the team individually. In addition to reliving highlights and lowlights of the past season for each, we’ll provide analysis and criticism, plus take a look at how each player fits — or doesn’t fit — into the team’s plans for 2018.)
RB Frank Gore
Height, weight: 5-9, 212
Age: Will be 35 at the start of the season
Experience: Entering 14th season, first with the Dolphins
Acquired: As a free agent from Indianapolis
Contract: Due to earn $1.1 million this season
Pro Football Focus rank: 17th out of 58
Stats: Rushing — 961 yards, 3.7 average, 3 TDs. Receiving — 29 catches, 245 yards, 1 TD
Notable moments: Carried 36 times for 130 yards at Buffalo. It was the most carries ever by a running back 34 or older
Straight talk: With Damien Williams leaving and Kenyan Drake still arriving in terms of the big stage, the Dolphins made a wise move in bringing Frank Gore back to Miami.
Gore will be 35 this season, but it was predictable that coach Adam Gase warned against getting too caught up in that, of course.
“It’s irrelevant,” Gase said. “He’s a different dude.”
Don’t believe it? Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star, in a column criticizing the Colts for letting Gore walk, revealed that in that game in Buffalo in which Gore had 130 yards, he broke a thumb. The Colts suggested season-ending surgery to insert a pin.
“I’m a football player,” Gore said. “I’m playing.”
Indianapolis’ next game was a Thursday nighter against the Broncos, so four days later, Gore was at it again, accounting for 67 yards from scrimmage. It’s that kind of drive that has allowed him to play 112 consecutive games, most by any active running back.
By keeping in terrific shape, Gore has managed 12 straight seasons with at least 1,200 yards from scrimmage. The only backs with more carries than his 3,226 are Emmitt Smith (all-time leader at 4,409), Walter Payton, Curtis Martin and Jerome Bettis. None has a better per-carry average than Gore’s 4.4.
With his stocky build and powerful legs, Gore has been an effective inside runner. He tied for 10th in the league last year with 49 carries for first downs, so perhaps third-and-1 will cease to be an automatic passing play. Not to mention that when Ryan Tannehill does throw with Gore in the game, not only can Gore catch, he’s exceptional at pass protection.
Gase and Gore were together in 2008, when Gase served as an offensive assistant on the 49ers.
“It’s been 10 years since we were together,” Gase said. “I mean it seems like forever. The guy looks exactly the same.”
Prospects for 2018
While the Dolphins are counting on Drake to be the featured back, Gore isn’t being brought in strictly as an aging mentor to the young guy.
“We’ll figure it out,” Gase said of the workload. “This is no different than what we were kind of doing with Damien and Kenyan last year. I mean it’s a long season. We got caught in a couple of situations last year where Kenyan was the only guy we had and he had to take the majority of the carries. Really, that’s not what we want over a 16-game season. That’s going to be tough. We’ll make sure that we spread this thing out well. We’ll use both of those guys the right way.”
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