By Abraham Gutierrez
Just because his 200-yard rushing streak came to an end last week against the NY Jets doesn’t mean the (4-4) Miami Dolphins are ready to shy away from handing the ball over to running back Jay Ajayi, according to head coach Adam Gase.
In fact, Miami’s first-year head coach believes his bruising back not only has the “style” to “break” opposing defenses, but he also has every intention to test the San Diego Chargers’ fifth-ranked NFL rushing defense when they meet Sunday in Southern California.
Jay Ajayi Shatters Opposing Defensive Rankings
“Jay is so effective, he’s a guy that runs very angry,” Gase said. “When you do that for four quarters, eventually the other team’s going to break because he’s a big back that runs hard and he runs through contact.”
The truth is that, just because he’s facing yet another top-5 rushing defense, doesn’t mean the NFL’s sixth-leading rusher can’t have another 100-yard performance. Last Sunday, Ajayi went up against a New York Jets defense that, at that time, was ranked No. 1 in the National Football League.
Throughout the week, the Jets publicly stated that their main objective (on defense) was to stop the second-year man out of Boise State and force quarterback Ryan Tannehill to win the game. Nevertheless, Ajayi would not only rush for 111 yards (24 carries, 1 TD), but much like Gase eluded to, he would also break the Jets’ defense by tallying most of his yards in the fourth quarter (55 yards).
“I think that you have to respect that,” Ajayi said of eclipsing the century mark against a Jets’ rush defense that’s now ranked fourth in the league. “I think we had a good day on the ground and we were able to do a lot of good things on offense.”
One could even make the case that the Jets defense was so fatigued after dealing with Ajayi’s violent and relentless style for almost four quarters, that it could have led to the special team unit’s meltdown that enabled Kenyan Drake to score the game-winning touchdown on a 96-yard kick return.
Adam Gase to Bolts: Prepare For Heavy Dose Of Jay Ajayi
Much like he did last week against the mighty Jets defense, Gase isn’t planning to neglect his best offensive weapon, no matter what happens. As a matter of fact, pounding the rock and testing that Chargers’ fifth-ranked run defense was at the top of his list when he met with his coaching staff this week.
“Don’t let me go away from Jay,” he reminded his staff, “And don’t allow me to start getting in that rhythm of just throwing the ball.”
Chargers Defense Up for the Challenge
All indications are that this week’s game could be best described by the “irresistible force vs. immovable object” paradox, as the Bolts will be up for the challenge. Not only does San Diego come into Week 10 of the 2016 NFL season having surrendered an average of 85.3 rushing yards per game, but no single player has been able to run for 100 yards this year.
For the record, the only two running backs that have gotten close to the century mark were the Kansas City Chiefs’ Spencer Ware (70 yards) in Week 1 and the Indianapolis Colts’ Frank Gore (82 yards) in Week 3. Thus far, Jay Ajayi comes in with 646 yards on 108 carried and six touchdowns on the season, out of which, 529 yards (77 carries, 4 TDs) have come over the past three games, all wins for Miami.