Around this time last year, Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin was talking about using Lamar Miller more. Miller was the Dolphins' primary ball carrier in 2014 but he had finished the season with just 216 rushing attempts. Not once did he carry the ball 20 times in a game despite finishing the season with 1,099 rushing yards. 54 of his 216 attempts and 317 of his 1,099 yards came over the final three games of the regular season. Those final three games, Philbin's comments and Miller adding significant weight over the offseason all suggested that the young back was about to breakout.
Instead, Miller carried the ball 37 times over the first four games of the season. Philbin was subsequently fired and Miller finished the season with fewer attemps in 2015 than he had in 2014.
Miller's usage throughout his career has been a hot topic. The 25-year old was drafted by the Dolphins in 2012 and was used sparingly as a rookie. He carried the ball 51 times for 250 yards, showing off his explosiveness and balance to take advantage of the space that appeared in front of him. At that point in his career, Miller was still developing. He was reliant on his athleticism rather than his technical precision or vision. Miller became a more prominent part of the offense in his second season but proved to be an inconsistent back because of his relatively narrow skill set.
It was his third season, the 2014 season, when Miller broke out. He thrived in Bill Lazor's offense behind a bad offensive line not because Lazor was setting him up to succeed, but because Miller was showing off consistent vision, creativity in deception and the same athleticism that had carried him to that point. He very quickly became the Dolphins best player.