It looks like Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi is getting everything he can. The problem for Miami is that there isn’t much to take.
Playing behind an inconsistent offensive line, Ajayi clawed for 77 yards on 25 carries in today’s 16-10 win over the Titans. That’s an average of 3.1 yards per carry, well below the 4.6 he put up last season.
On one of his better runs of the afternoon, a six-yard gain up the middle, Ajayi coughed up the ball when he got hit by Tennessee cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. That fumble, at Miami’s 28-yard line, led to the Titans scoring on a field goal.
“Some of it was good, some of it wasn’t good,” coach Adam Gase said of his performance. “The fumble, obviously is unfortunate. It was hard to see. I saw the replay up on the board. You just can’t have that happen. That’s one of the things we count on him with the amount of time he carries the ball, make sure ball security is 100 percent.
“It was one of those days where they were playing the run so hard, maybe we should have went to play action sooner. There’s a couple of times where we tried to earlier in the game, but things just broke down quick.”
For the year, Ajayi’s at 261 yards on 76 rushes and has yet to score a touchdown. Not only has the line struggled to play inconsistently, but the passing attack isn’t taking any attention off him as it sputters along.
After being one of the most talkative players on the team cheap throwback jerseys last year, he’s had little to say when he meets with the media this season. He did not elaborate much on Miami’s offensive shortfalls.
“Not scoring enough points,” he said. “We’re not executing. The defense is playing great and the offense isn’t.”
Ajayi is coming off a season in which he ran for 1,272 yards, the third-highest mark in franchise history, and scored eight touchdowns. He had four fumbles in 260 carries. So far this year, he’s on pace for 1,044 yards.
When the Miami Dolphins play the New Orleans Saints at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, the game will feature something no other London-based game has had.
Star running back Jay Ajayi will be the first London-born skill position player to take the field, something not lost on the NFL official who runs the show oversees.
“Having local heroes has always been something we see as a key part of growing the sport,” said Mark Waller, the NFL’s executive vice president for international. “Jay’s success has given us a player who gains national media attention and can create headlines through scoring TDs in a way that a lineman, for example, can never achieve. He is someone we can use as a success story when talking to young British athletes about the potential of taking up our sport.”
Ajayi, who was questionable with a knee injury heading into the weekend, will play. And yes, it is a first big deal. The official International Ambassador for NFL UK has been everywhere this week.
His appearance at a New Era store in London drew lines out the door. He was the featured player at the NFL’s UK pep rally. Already a top-five selling jersey in the UK, Ajayi now is the first player to have his own hashtag emoji. He also partnered with IT’SUGAR for his own candy called Sweeties that dropped this week.
“He is an engaging and cool young man who has created cut-through for us on a variety of digital platforms — first NFL player to have first Twitter emoji — through various offseason trips to the UK,” Waller said. “Jay playing at Wembley gives us the opportunity to magnify all of the above through enhanced media coverage, social and digital outreach and general awareness of his great story.”
Ajayi, who moved to the United States when he was seven, isn’t the first London-born player. The most high-profile was Osi Umenyiora. But Ajayi is taking it further. He visited London last summer to surprise a youth football team and he’ll have a camp in London next summer. But make no mistake, today is a huge part of his journey.