Could Jay Ajayi Win 2017 Rushing Title?
When Ajayi makes his first cut at the Line Of Scrimmage he get good gains
Last year, when the Miami Dolphins Offensive Line was healthy, they were able to open up Grand Canyon sized holes for Jay Ajayi with their Zone-Stretch run game–especially against the 3-4 defense.
The result were an impressive 2 straight games of Ajayi running for over 200 yards.
If Ajayi can get some steady play from his lineman this year, and some more touches, then the sky could be the limit given that this season 8 of the teams they play run a 3-4 defense.
Last season, Ajayi finished the year with the 4th most rushing yards with 1,272 yards on 260 attempts for 4.9 yards per carry average… and he didn’t even play in the first game of the season. Ezekiel Elliott led the league with 1,631 yards on 62 more rushing attempts verses Ajayi.
Doing some math with his YPC and 62 carries, he would have fallen short of the title by around 50 yards, but it would’ve been close.
Ajayi went from the doghouse to the penthouse when his mindset got right
Coach Adam Gase has already stated that this offense needs to run more plays this season, because we had one of the lowest offensive snap totals in the NFL last year. He also said that an increase in offensive snaps would help his other goal: getting Ajayi as much as 100 more snaps next season, which would lead to more touches… and more production.
Another avenue that NFL football fans know is a certain way to get Ajayi more yards is simply being more consistent.
In 2016, Ajayi only had 4 games out of 15 in that he ran for over 100 yards–amazingly, 3 of those 4 games he ran for over 200 yards. In each of the 4 games where he ran for over 100 yards he carried the ball a minimum of 24 times–the Dolphins were 4-0 in those games. In the other 11 games, where he failed to run for over 100 yards, he never got more than 20 rushing attempts. There were 5 games where he only had 13 or less attempts: ( 5 attempts, 7 attempts, 6 attempts, 12 attempts, and 13 attempts.)
All in all, Ajayi averaged seventeen rushing attempts per game last year, and in the games where he received the most touches, he clearly was the most effective, and even got stronger and better in the fourth quarter of those games.
This season’s goal should be for him to average at least 20+ carries per game.
#23 could end up an historic steal in Dolphins lore with 5-6 more years of production
Coach Gase interestingly said last year that sometimes he needs his coaches to remind him to keep feeding Ajayi the rock. In 2016, Coach Gase elected to throw the ball 477 times compared to 405 times in which he elected to run the ball.
That is pretty close to being balanced, but this year that number should be flipped.
Coach Clyde Christensen recently praised Ajayi’s off-season work ethic, and sees him as a better all-around running back compared to last year. With a bit more focus on the running game this year–and hopefully a slightly improved offensive line–then Ajayi just might be capable of being the NFL’s best and top rusher next year.
Just in terms of a number, I think Ajayi should be aiming for is the 1500 yard rushing mark. If the O-line is even adequate, there is no reason why that is not a real possibility. What are the rest of the Miami Dolphins news thoughts about whether Ajayi can be even more productive and possibly lead the league in rushing next season?