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Forget the fact that teammates have done so only six times in NFL history, and that it hasn’t been done in Miami since Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris combined for more than 2,100 yards in the perfect season of 1972. Brown likes the idea of setting his goals high.
“Why not?” he asked.
“Our goal as a team is to win the Super Bowl. Thirty-one other teams have the same goal, so is that unrealistic?”
Brown, 28, was on pace for his second 1,000-yard season when he suffered a broken foot against Tampa Bay last November, leaving him with 648 yards in nine games. Williams, who had 456 yards at the season’s midpoint, picked up his pace after Brown’s injury and finished with 1,121.
The one season Brown reached the milestone (2006) was the year Williams was in the CFL; neither has come close in the three years they’ve been together. But Brown said this year is different.
“We’ve put a lot of things in place,” he said. “We’ve added some key parts: We’ve got depth now in the offensive line, we’ve got Brandon Marshall, Chad (Henne) has had a year to get experience, and we have Ricky and myself.
“There’s a lot that goes into it. First of all we have to be on the same page as an offense. But as a goal I think that’s very attainable.”
“A lot of good things have to happen,” coach Tony Sparano agreed. “That’s why it’s happened so few times.
“One of them is you’ve got to stay healthy, and the other is that you get into situations where you can run it 35, 40 times a game.
“You can’t have those (games) where all of a sudden you’re coming back and you have to throw it 55 times.”
The ’72 Dolphins had no such problems. Led by Csonka and Morris, they ran the ball a franchise-record 613 times and threw it only 259. Csonka averaged 5.2 yards a carry and Morris 5.3 as Miami piled up 2,940 rushing yards, another franchise record.
“It was a different game back then,” Morris said this week. “Most teams ran the ball three out of five times and we ran it seven out of 10.
“Nowadays, when teams have third-and-3 and feel like they have to pass, that tells you something about the run.”
On whether Brown’s goal is realistic, Morris added, “It’s not beyond their reach. I wish them well.”
While the Dolphins – and most teams in the past with a Bill Parcells influence – are considered a run-first team, they rushed only 509 times last season while passing 545. With the addition of Marshall bolstering their receiver corps, expectations are that they’ll throw more this year and run less.
Still, Brown figures the most important element to fulfilling his goal is staying healthy, and he may be right.
He has topped 900 yards three times and was on pace to go over 1,000 in both 2007 and 2009 before getting hurt. Now, as he prepares for his sixth NFL season, he’s being called injury-prone.
“That really doesn’t bother me,” he said. “The injury I had last year was just unfortunate; the guy fell on the back of my foot. People had fallen on me a million times and that time I got hurt.
“The knee injury (in 2007), I’m jogging across the field, nobody was hitting me, and it gives out. It’s not up to me to question how my body does in those situations.”
Sparano figures opposing defenses will largely dictate the productivity of the running game.
“I really don’t know what (opponents) are going to do,” he said. “They may come out and say, ‘Hey, we’re still going to make you throw the ball to beat us. We’ll see when we get to Buffalo (Sept. 12) what the plans are.
“There’s a lot that has to happen for all those moons to line up properly. I do know that the ability of those two players says it could happen.”