A preview of Chase Edmonds and the running backs in the AFC East

A preview of Chase Edmonds and the running backs in the AFC East

If the Dolphins want to change their fortunes in 2022, it will have to start in the division. The last time the team won the AFC East was the 2008 season when Tony Sparano was head coach and Chad Pennington was starting at quarterback. Since then, the Dolphins have made the playoffs just once and finished second in the division only four times.

The Dolphins, though, have assembled a talented and deep roster that is expected to have them in contention for a playoff spot after they have come one win short the last two seasons. In the second of an eight-part series, the Miami Herald will rank and preview different positions for each team in the AFC East, from strongest to weakest. Part 2 is running back, and next is wide receiver and tight end.

1. New York Jets

Projected depth chart: Michael Carter, Breece Hall, Tevin Coleman

Skinny: The Jets ranked 27th in rushing yards last season but finished with the least amount of attempts in the NFL. When New York was committed to the run, though, it had success, averaging 4.4 yards per carry (tied for 14th in the league) and the Jets’ rushing offense was rated No. 15 by Football Outsiders efficiency metrics. Michael Carter led those efforts (964 total yards) as a promising rookie and the Jets gave him an equally impressive running mate by drafting Breece Hall. Hall was one of the best big-play backs in college football and is a perfect fit for New York’s zone running scheme.

2. New England Patriots

Projected depth chart: Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, James White, Pierre Strong Jr.

Skinny: A large part of the reason the Patriots had success last season with a rookie quarterback is that they paired Mac Jones with one of the better rushing offenses in the league. New England’s running game ranked seventh by Football Outsiders and the Patriots were eighth in rushing yards. Harris and Stevenson are a nice 1-2 punch — both averaged over 4.5 yards per carry — and New England added speed by drafting Strong, who was one of the most dynamic running backs at North Dakota State. The Patriots are reportedly also shifting to more Shanahan-style run concepts — the same that the Dolphins are implementing — which could portend a big role for Strong, who excelled in a similar college system.

3. Buffalo Bills

Projected depth chart: Devin Singletary, James Cook, Zack Moss, Duke Johnson

Skinny: Quarterback Josh Allen remains the Bills’ greatest running threat but Buffalo has a young core of backs in Singletary, Moss and Cook, all drafted in the last four years. Buffalo’s poised to have an all-South Florida backfield when you include Johnson, who played for the Dolphins in 2021. It could be Cook, though, who emerges as the most indispensable player, with receiving skills that will allow for a lot of creativity in the Bills’ offense.

4. Miami Dolphins

Projected depth chart: Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, Sony Michel

Skinny: The Dolphins gave their backfield a facelift in the offseason by signing Edmonds, Mostert and Michel. Edmonds, who spent his first four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, has the best combination of skills as a runner and pass-catcher but he’ll split carries with Mostert and Michel. Mostert, still rehabbing a knee injury from 2021, joins first-year head coach Mike McDaniel from San Francisco and is one of the fastest players in the NFL when healthy. Michel brings more of a power element and has multiple years of carrying a significant workload with the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams. All fit well in the Dolphins’ new zone running scheme and when you combine their skill sets with the game planning of McDaniel, who made his mark with the 49ers leading their rushing offense, you see a group that has the potential to be the fulcrum of a revamped offense.

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