On Sunday morning, I awoke to a Twitter notification from my good Twitter friend, Matthew McCarthy of Gridironratings.com. It was doubly my jam, because it was a notification that Myles Gaskin would be in a timeshare, according to head coach Brian Flores. It came from Rotoworld… excuse me… NBC Sports Edge. I hate Coach Speak™, mostly because we rarely find the proper context for the words the coach said. But, this little bit of coach speak was extremely doubly my jam because (1) I’m a big Gaskin-head and (2) my raison d’etre of the 2021 offseason was calmly reminding people that nearly every running back in the league splits time. The bell cow era is, at least for now, trending to a close:
But here’s the thing: this little bit of coach speak… wasn’t. While the Fantasy Football Twittersphere went around screaming from the rooftops about how Myles Gaskin is in a timeshare now (he always was) and you should drop him down your ranks I… did nothing. I did nothing. We already knew Myles Gaskin would split time. And why did we know that? Because everyone splits time. You can just check the ADP of guys going around Myles Gaskin to show that we already knew this: Travis Etienne, Chase Edmonds, Kareem Hunt, and James Robinson. These guys are all in time shares! Two of them with each other! Why are we worried about a Myles Gaskin timeshare!
And as a complete aside, the guy he’s “splitting time” with had 9 yards on 8 carries. Color me unimpressed by Malcolm Brown if he is the guy putting Gaskin on the bench.
But, let’s get back to this coach speak. This stemmed from a question asked to Brian Flores in the preseason game one press conference. This is from the MiamiDolphins.com transcript of the interview:
Reporter: “What was the thought process for Malcolm starting the game and then how you used and rotated in the backs?”
Flores: “I mean, you saw all three backs played. All of them got carries. So pick one and put him in, basically. We like all three guys. They all do good things. And I think we saw that today. We’ll just keep working all three [guys].”
So, did Brian Flores make a statement about the intended usage of his running backs during the regular season—or—did Brian Flores respond to a question asking why Malcolm Brown had so many touches in the retrospect? Which was it? Because I see the second. I see this little bit of coach speak that pumps up all his guys and led him to say he basically chose a back at random.
As an aside… If you want to spin this forward: he knows what he has in Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed. They didn’t get Travis Etienne, or Aaron Jones, or any other back that we theory crafted onto the Dolphins’ roster. Now, you could say that they weren’t in a position to get guys. That’s incredibly fair but does not flesh with what we think about when teams trade up to get guys. “They must have a plan for him,” we tell ourselves, “they traded up for a reason.”
But, we only reflect on the action, not the inaction. The Miami Dolphins had nothing but ammunition to get their guys in the draft. Jaylen Waddle might have been a reach where they got him, but they traded back, absorbed value, and got their guy. They could have moved up for Najee Harris, or Travis Etienne, or Javonte Williams, or Chuba Hubbard, or Michael Carter or… you get my point. They added Gerrid Doaks as token competition to Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, and a $1.75 million Malcolm Brown.
An aside to an aside… Malcolm Brown and James Conner have almost the same contract. We screech and yell about how Malcolm Brown is stealing from Myles Gaskin while Chase Edmonds is now out here going “what does it mean to be a lead back, really?” It’s an interpretive miscalculation; we don’t look at every situation holistically and objectively.
But, let’s get back to Miami. On August 16, the reporters asked clarifying questions to Brian Flores.
Reporter: “Running Back Myles Gaskin mentioned earlier this offseason that he wanted to work on his conditioning and durability so he can play more. Do his issues with that in the past factor in whether in the preseason or regular season?”
Flores: “I think Myles is in good condition. He can go. I think we are going to try and use the backs situationally that best fits their skillset and what’s best for the team. Myles can play on first down, second down and third down; but depending on the call, depending on the situation, we may put another player in there. That’s the case really for all positions. We try to put the best 11 guys that fit what we are going to do on that particular play. I think the entire team knows that. Myles is a team guy so he’s going to do what’s best for the team.” (emphasis mine)
For a quick second, let’s just remember what had us declaring Jamaal Williams the lead back in an interview with The Athletic’s Chris Burke and Nick Baumgardner:
“Jamaal is what I’d call a classic ‘A’ back. I like to break the backs down into ‘A’ and ‘B’. My ‘A’ backs are normally my bigger backs. They can run between the tackles, block probably a little better than a ‘B’ back, they can also run the perimeter. I can leave those guys in there for all three downs.” (emphasis mine).
So… what is the difference here? Is it the prior conceptions of these backfields? Are we just trying to reconfirm those priors? We panicked looking for reasons to not like D’Andre Swift, so we worried about this, and about Todd Gurley visiting, and every other random thing anyone tangentially related to the Lions said. In the end, it looks as though it’s D’Andre Swift’s backfield (once he returns from his injury?
Why then, do we not give Gaskin a different treatment?
Well, there’s the first thing: we didn’t investigate the coach speak. It took me about 10 minutes of investigating to find out that the Rotoworld headline is misleading. But, I was laying in bed and I had nothing better to do at that moment.
When I received that message from Matthew, I was at the Fantasy Football Expo. I came downstairs to see what was up with people and I ran into Malcolm McMillan of The Lateral Fantasy Football. One of the first things he said (which was not the time this weekend his first words were, “Kabul has fallen”) was “Gaskin is in a timeshare, did you see this?”
Rotoworld had done its job. I explained to him and the cohort of folks around us what Flores said in his press conference and they all immediately responded “oh, that’s not a timeshare. That’s just… using running backs.” But, without my proselytizing, the internet ran wild. People are dropping Myles Gaskin down their ranks because he shares time. Behind backs like James Robinson and Chase Edmonds, and other backs who… already share time.
But, back to my point.
Coach speak is pointless. Stop listening to the coach speak. You can pick and choose whatever they say to hear what you want to hear. In this very article, you can see Flores on back-to-back days giving what seems to be conflicting coach speak information. That’s why I don’t listen to the coach speak. I trust my player evaluations. And my player evaluations tell me that Myles Gaskin is a much, much better player than Malcolm Brown.
Also, I don’t worry about things until there is a trend line. One preseason game is not a trendline. Should Malcolm Brown once again get the bulk of first-team snaps in week two of the preseason, then I’ll worry. For now, I’m just going to drown out the coach speak and proceed as normal.
Do you want more 2021 NFL discussion? Did you find this article disjointed and weird… but in a good way? Then check out these links!
[Image Source: Screenshot from MIami Dolphins Press Conference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJI_ww1cizU]