By: Scott Brock-Wilson
Will Lamar Miller finally turn the corner and become a top tier NFL running back?
Entering his 5th year in the NFL, Lamar Miller appears to be in a position to take a big step forward, but this isn’t the 1st time people have thought this. He has been on the brink of stardom for almost two years now.
Year 1: Welcome
Miller was drafted by Dolphins in the 4th round of the 2012 draft after becoming a hometown favorite in two years at the University of Miami. He rushed for over 1200 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per attempt in his final year in just twelve games as Miami failed to play in a bowl game due self-imposed sanctions. He didn’t have the full control of the offense as he had to split time with Mike James (73 carries) in the backfield.
In his rookie season, Miller was behind both Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas. Little was expected from him as he saw the field for only 50 carries, but he had his flashes, making the most of his opportunity rushing for 4.9 yards per attempt.
Year 2: Starter?
In his second season, he assumed the starting role, but still had to split time, only having 68 more carries than Daniel Thomas. He failed to continue his high yards per attempt with the higher volume of carries. He continued to show spurts of greatness with his elusiveness, but disappointed overall.
Year 3: He gains the reins
In 2014, it was Miller’s chance to shine. Yes, Thomas was still on the roster, but in a much diminished role. With the team coming off of a .500 season and improving their record for a second straight year, the expectation was playoffs or bust. Miller started off incredibly strong averaging 5.5 yards per attempt and over 275 yards in his first four games. He proceeded to have a career year in yards (1099), rushes (216), receptions (38) and receiving yards (275). This made many consider him as a fringe top ten RB, but his season was defined by inconsistency. The team stalled once again at 8-8 after a late season collapse losing 5 of their last 7 games. Miller, just 23 at the time, seemed to be a lone bright spot on a team that ended in disarray.
Year 4: The glamour breakout pick
As many fantasy owners believed, 2015 was a definite breakout year for the 4th year player. His season was once again marked by inconsistency with huge games and complete duds. His best came against a stout Houston defense when he ran for 175 yards on just 14 attempts, (12.5 yards per attempt) and tacked on over 60 receiving yards with 3 total touchdowns. However, even with 2 more games over 100 yards rushing, Miller ended last season with less yards on fewer carries than the previous season. He did tally yet another career high year in many receiving categories as he proved himself to be a pass catching threat out of the backfield.
Year 5: The real deal
With all of this being said, he has more promise now than ever. This is his make or break season. With this change of scenery, Miller goes from an offense that ranked last in rushing attempts last year to an offense that has ranked first and fifth in its two seasons under Bill O’Brien. Miller will finally have a full #1 RB workload, upward of 300 carries, assuming health.
Miller is a surprisingly good pass blocker for his size, which will help keep him on the field for all three downs. Along with his obvious agility, quickness and elusiveness, he also boasted a 2.76 yards after contact per attempt, good enough to be just outside the top 10. He is a sneaky strong back with a 4.4 40, and incredible durability, never missing a game in his last three seasons.
His team, now hoping to repeat in the AFC South, is revamped offensively. With Osweiler and Miller controlling the backfield, the offense seems to ready for a leap forward. Hopkins will put up even more numbers with a now somewhat reliable quarterback, as Jaelen Strong looks to make his mark on the NFL this year. They added Jeff Allen and Nick Martin on the O-line to help pave the way for Miller into one of the league’s leading rushers. The defense is still a top 5 defense provided health. Houston was 3rd in yards allowed and 7th in points last season compared to the Dolphins, who ranked in the bottom half of the league in both categories.
However, if he cannot make the jump this year, his 5th season, he will always be in that middle ground waiting on the outside to get in. Not many players make big leaps after year 5. So the pressure is on Lamar, let’s see what you can do.
He is lined up for success, though. It may be time to jump on the Miller bandwagon, with the stardom only steps away.