We all know Kenyan Drake is a HR hitter, a big play waiting to happen on any and every play. However, is he the proverbial cowbell running back that you can feed the ball to 20+ times a game and control the clock and have long productive drives? To be fair, he hasn’t been a given a huge opportunity to do just that. He was given a small audition, but with future HOF RB Frank Gore at his disposal, Gase chose Gore over Drake to get the slight majority of carries over Drake, and start drives on 1st and 2nd down. With Gore gone, there is no other proven NFL back on the roster.
Ballage showed some nice things last season although in a very small sampling. Ballage had only 36 carries for 191 yards last season and also added 9 catches for 56 yards.Ballage did have one huge run for 75 yards, which makes up almost half of his production, but we shouldn’t punish him by detracting that from his stats. I think Ballage may have some potential, he seems to be a solid receiver out of the backfield, and possibly offers more in the power department over Drake.
Myles Gaskin is probably the closest thing to Frank Gore in this backfield. I’m in no way saying he’s as talented as Gore, but he’s more of the low to the ground bowling ball type that that run either inside the tackles or to the outside. Gaskin had a wonderful, productive career at Washington. His 945 carries i9s actually more than both Drake and Ballage’s college carries combined! His 57 rushing TD’s is also more than Drake and Ballage combined at 57-46. His 5323 yards rushing is almost 1.5X Drake and Ballage combined. So what does this all this mean?
I think we’re going to have a backfield by committee. I don’t think we’re going to have a feature back, and I think if we’re keeping along with the New England way, we will feature a back that best fits our particular game plan that week against a particular defense. If we we’re playing a slow plodding defense we may feature Drake more to exploit their speed. If we’re playing a fast defense we may feature more a power set with double TE sets and a FB and either Ballage or Gaskin getting more carries in a power rushing attack. Just like we will be on defense, we will use personnel on offense to match up better with our opponent that week. The Patriots constantly changed like a chameleon using James White, rookie Sony Michel and RB/FB Rex Burkhead so that each week, their opponent couldn’t nail down a game plan against their offense. It was pretty effective in that regard. It’s like a baseball team trying to gameplan against 3 pitchers in one game, very hard to accomplish.
I like the different skillsets each back brings and as a unit, I think it’s a pretty solid one. This is the final year of Kenyan Drake’s contract so I would imagine he will be hungry for a nice contract next season which will give him some incentive to play his best. Ballage will want to add more of a workload from last season, and Gaskin is really the wild card. He has a lot of miles on those legs, but he might get a fair amount of carries if he can do for the Dolphins what he did for the Washington Huskies. As far as our 4th back, that’s too much up in the air right now to go into depth about it. It will probably be either Kenneth Farrow, Mark Walton, Patrick Laird or possibly even a player on another roster that gets cut once teams cut down to the 53 man roster. No matter what, I’m confident in the 3 we currently have.