That’s the reality tailback Myles Gaskin had to stomach this past week while the Miami Dolphins pursued Le’Veon Bell after he was released by the New York Jets and was picking between the Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs.
Bell eventually signed with the defending Super Bowl Champions with the hopes that he’ll contribute to Kansas City’s postseason run, and Gaskin said he didn’t used Miami’s flirtation with a three-time Pro Bowler as motivation.
Gaskin, a 2018 seventh-round pick who used training camp to earn a contributing role this season, delivered his best NFL performance on Sunday.
Gaskin gained 91 rushing yards on 18 carries, and contributed 35 yards on four receptions in Sunday’s 24-0 victory over the Jets.
That’s a total of 126 yards from the former University of Washington standout, who is pushing to gain the respect most NFL starters possess.
“He’s been playing well these first six weeks. Guys on our team are motivated to play, period,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said when asked if Miami’s pursuit of Bell provided a little added motivation to Gaskin. “They don’t need any extra motivation.”
Gaskin personifies the type of player Flores is trying to build the Dolphins with: underdogs who are driven to work harder than the man next to them, and put on blinders to do it.
That type of work ethic is what allowed Gaskin to leapfrog Jordan Howard and Matt Breida, the two veterans the Dolphins added this past offseason, on the depth chart.
So far this season Gaskin has gained 340 yards on 82 carries, and averages 4.1 yards per carry.
He also ranks second on the team in receptions, bringing in 27 passes, which he’s turned into 182 yards.
Heading into Sunday’s game against a dejected Jets team, who had been battling some injuries on defense, the Dolphins were averaging just 3.7 yards per carry, which ranks 30th.
And even worse than that was the yards per carry average from the team’s top three tailbacks — Gaskin, Breida and Howard — who collectively are averaging just 2.8 yards per carry on 109 carries in the first five games.
“We ran the ball effectively at times,” Flores said about Sunday’s performance, which delivered 110 rushing yards on 25 carries. “Like everything else, we’ll improve in that area. Myles in tough. He’s a competitor. Hopefully we can keep building.”
According to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has been a champion for Gaskin, the defensive front the Jets were giving the Dolphins encouraged Miami to check into runs, and Gaskin capitalized on them.
“He’s a guy that just continued to work really hard. The improvement he made from last year to his year is awesome,” Fitzpatrick said, comparing Gaskin to his rookie season, where he didn’t play until the
Gaskin carried the ball 18 times for 91 yards and caught all four of his targets for 35 yards in Sunday’s 24-0 win over the Jets.
Both the 91 rushing yards and 126 scrimmage yards were career highs for the second-year back, as Miami spent much of the second half burning clock after taking a 21-0 lead into halftime. Gaskin has a firm hold on the No. 1 job in the Dolphins’ backfield, and his role is unlikely to change following the team’s Week 7 bye.