Every team needs a reliable running back. Give a smart running back holes to run into and it doesn't matter who he is or where he came from, he's going to get production. Reliable running backs also need to keep hold of the ball, something you only realise when one of your players is coughing it up every 20 snaps. How are the Dolphins running backs faring when it comes to reliability?
Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas (pre-injury) have gained the majority of the snaps this season, and while they've had to play behind one of the worst run blocking offensive lines in the NFL, they've managed to limit their fumbles to 1 between them, a fumble that came after a long run against the Bengals which wouldn't have happened had Miller made a better decision when choosing which lane to run into.
If you're looking for ball protection, there's no doubt that the Dolphins are better off with Lamar Miller than Reggie Bush. Bush fumbled 8 times in his two seasons in Miami, mistakes that may have proved costly in the grand scheme of things – the Dolphins lost several close games in 2012 that could have seen the Dolphins in the playoffs had several plays gone differently. Bush also has the second most fumbles this season among running backs, something to factor into your thinking when you see one highlight of his occasional special play that leaves a tear in your eye.
Ball protection is important, but a stable running game that contributes to an offense is even more important. The Dolphins have been lacking this this season. Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman regularly abandons his running backs, with many games turning into Ryan Tannehill vs the opposing defense in the fourth quarter, situations where a balanced attack will have freed things up.
Are the Dolphins missing Reggie Bush? Or is the offensive line just that much worse this year? The Dolphins running game leaves a number of questions that we'll probably never know the answer to. What we do know is that any ignorance of his running backs by Mike Sherman isn't because of a lack of trust. The Dolphins backfield tandem have one of the cleanest fumbling records in the league in 2013, if one of the three (inc. Marcus Thigpen and Mike Gillislee who have seen increased snaps in Daniel Thomas' absence) remaining Dolphins' backs can make use of the slightly improved offensive line play in recent weeks, it's going to be of massive help to Ryan Tannehill and the offense in the push for the playoffs.