Since the dawn of time, mankind has had but one goal: “I. MUST. GO. FAST.” Whether it be speedrunning Super Mario 64 on Twitch, Joey Chestnut wolfing down 70-plus hot dogs in 5 minutes (You could never!), or Lightning McQueen going for the Piston Cup, speed has always dazzled onlookers and made for an exhilarating viewing experience.
The Miami Dolphins took that philosophy to heart during the 2022 offseason, trading for Tyreek Hill and signing Saints left tackle Terron Armstead, who ran a 4.71 40-yard dash at the combine in 2013. However, given the rest of Miami’s roster, the most impactful speed signing of this offseason could be Raheem Mostert.
For one, head coach Mike McDaniel likely wants to run his offense similarly to how Kyle Shanahan ran his offense in San Francisco, where McDaniel was the OC. The 49ers were fantastic at operating an outside zone run scheme behind left tackle Trent Williams. While Armstead isn’t quite the run blocker that Williams is, his incredible speed will enable him to get out in front of runs and block potential tacklers all before the Dolphins’ running backs have reached the line of scrimmage. Of course, this is all assuming McDaniel opts to run a similar scheme to Shanahan’s. Remember when Shanahan would pull those weird maneuvers and put Williams in at tight end or fullback so they could put him in motion and get him moving before the snap? Yeah, oftentimes, the reason for that was to get Williams out in front of the ball carrier outside the tackles. Armstead will likely have several opportunities to perform similar duties this upcoming season.
Now, why does this matter for Mostert though? Well, this scheme works best with insanely fast ball carriers, and aside from Tyreek Hill, Mostert is probably the fastest person in the NFL. In 2020, he had the two fastest runs of the season. Since 2016, only Hill and Mostert have managed to record in-game speeds over 23 miles per hour.
The other backs in Miami’s backfield aren’t slow by any means, but Mostert’s speed is far and away the best on South Beach. He’s got excellent explosiveness and breakaway capabilities, and for a team that finished 30th in the NFL in 20-plus yard runs in 2021, that speed will be well-appreciated. They also ran for the fifth-fewest first downs all year, and had the third-lowest percentage of 1st downs accumulated via the run.
Now, you might be thinking: “OK, this is great and all, but Chase Edmonds is the lead back.” True...for now. Edmonds has never proven able to handle a lead back’s workload. Mostert operated in a committee as well during most of his time in San Francisco, but he was an early-down back. Edmonds is better served as a third-down/pass-catching back if anything. It shouldn’t be long before McDaniel decides to use Edmonds that way. Early down duties will fall to Myles Gaskin, Sony Michel, and Mostert. However, Mostert’s knowledge of McDaniel’s system, combined with the fact that his skill set works best with McDaniel’s supposed scheme, should push him into lead-back duties sooner rather than later. That’s just my opinion though.
The Dolphins’ run game was pitiful last year. If they want Tua Tagovailoa to take a step toward greatness in 2022, the Fins will need a run game to make defenses respect the ground attack and improve the effectiveness of play-action. Mostert has the explosiveness to make that dream a reality. Yes, injuries are a major concern. Mostert has played all of nine games over the last two seasons. However, according to McDaniel, Mostert expects to play Week 1. He likely won’t have a major workload in that game, in an effort to gauge his readiness from injury, but he will show flashes of what he can bring to the table. If he can stay healthy, the Dolphins' offense will take a major leap next season, but that’s a big IF.