With 121 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries against the Patriots, Mostert wildly overperformed his age (31, oldest among all RB1s in Week 2), his compensation (his $2.2 million salary cap figure is 31st among NFL RBs in 2023), and his offseason competition (Dalvin Cook, Jonathan Taylor, Josh Jacobs, and Saqoun Barkley were all largely nonfactors).
So there’s already reason to believe the Dolphins were wise not to break the bank for a running back.
They knew what they already had — even if no one else did.
Raheem Mostert blasts through untouched for the TD run❕ pic.twitter.com/c9hd59qoGG
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) September 18, 2023
Miami Dolphins’ Raheem Mostert Gamble Pays Off
The Dolphins could have gone in dozens of different ways this offseason at running back, and assuming the reports are accurate, considered almost all of them.
Instead, they re-upped with Mostert, even though he was on the wrong side of 30 — a benchmark is usually a career killer.
“I have extensive history with Raheem,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said Monday, less than 24 hours after his team improved to 2-0 for the second straight season.
“From our vantage point, and mine specifically, with opportunities that weren’t plentiful in the beginning of his career — he was cut 900 times and in the NFC Championship Game in 2019, he didn’t even start when he had 220 yards and four touchdowns, and then had to deal with some injuries. But all the while, his game has progressed.
“… To look at him through the same lens as every other back I think would be a mistake. Just watching the nuances of his game, he’s developed confidence, conviction, his vision is better, he’s more decisive,” he added.
“As you guys could see last night, and it was very evident at the end of the season last year, he is a hard tackle. Pound for pound he might be one of, if not the strongest person on the team. He’s just unique in that way.”
When you combine speed, power, scheme, and improved blocking, you get the kind of performance you saw on national TV Sunday.
Eighteen of Mostert’s rushing yards Sunday night came after one broken tackle. On his 43-yard touchdown dash, he reached a top speed of 21.62 mph — the second-fastest recorded speed in all of football this season.
The fastest? Tyreek Hill, who was just four one-hundredths of a second faster on his 47-yard catch late in the Chargers game.
“He’s fast as hell,” Dolphins guard Robert Hunt said of Mostert. “He’s strong. He plays the game the right way and last night when I saw him in the open field, that’s a beautiful sight to me.”
Age Is Only a Number
To do that at any age is special. To do it at Mostert’s age is almost unheard of.
As you can see in the chart below, running back is almost exclusively a young man’s position.
|Age of Starting RBs in Week 2||Frequency|
The average age (mean) of starting running backs in Week 1 was a shade over 25.
The standard deviation — or the measure of how dispersed data is in relation to the mean — for those 32 starters is 2.
For those who slept through AP stats, here’s a reminder of what that means.
- Around 68% of scores are within one standard deviation of the mean
- Around 95% of scores are within two standard deviations of the mean
- Around 99.7% of scores are within three standard deviations of the mean.
Mostert is basically three SD’s of the mean — or an anomaly of roughly three in 1,000.
And that’s just to be a starter.
The odds of a person his age being among the fastest and most efficient performers at his position is in the tens of thousands. It simply doesn’t happen.
Is that sustainable throughout the course of the season? History says no. But with Jeff Wilson and Salvon Ahmed both dealing with injuries, the Dolphins would be thrilled if it’s sustainable for the next couple of weeks.
“I try to very much acknowledge when people live outside the curve,” McDaniel said. “I’d rather be the person that was like, ‘Yeah, see? I knew it.’ Because you just watch what he does on a daily basis and know how hungry he is and how much he wants to do what he does best, which is run the football.”
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