Can Miami Dolphins RB De’Von Achane Avoid Sophomore Slump?

No Miami Dolphins running back has had a rookie season quite like De'Von Achane. What can he do as a follow up in 2024?

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Likely nothing would have prevented C.J. Stroud from winning Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2023. But if Miami Dolphins running back De’Von Achane had stayed healthy all year, perhaps the voting would have been a bit closer.

Stroud got 48 of 50 first-place votes, winning in a landslide after throwing for 4,108 yards and 23 touchdowns in just 15 games.

Achane, meanwhile, didn’t get a single vote despite finishing first among NFL backs with at least 100 rushes in yards per carry (7.8), fifth in rushing yards per game (72.5), and 13th in rushing touchdowns (eight) despite playing just 11 games.

With that context, it’s important to remember that stressing about the past is wasted energy. Here is where the focus should be (and seemingly is): Making sure Achane takes a step forward, not back, in 2024.

Outlook for Miami Dolphins RB De’Von Achane in 2024

Achane’s 800 rushing yards in 2023 were the third most by a Dolphins rookie in the team’s 58-year history.

The only two players with more? Karim Abdul-Jabbar (now known as Abdul-Karim al-Jabbar) in 1996 and Ronnie Brown in 2005. Both players followed their strong debuts with solid second seasons — a path the Dolphins hope the immensely talented Achane can follow.

It’s no sure bet.

A standout rookie season is no guarantee of a great career. Sophomore slumps are a real phenomenon. Just ask Atlanta Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier, who after finishing fifth in OROY voting in 2022 saw big year-over-year reductions in rushing yards (1,035 to 683) and yards per carry (4.9 to 3.7).

“[It’s an] important offseason for him because you are just really hanging on by your coattails as a rookie in this league in general,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said this week. “… Year 2, you kind of let everything settle, understand much more of the whys of everything that you do; and for him, the more he can understand within the offense, the more ways he can get the ball.

“He had outstanding ball production, some of which I know he feels specifically that there’s more out there from the opportunities he had last year and then being able to find different ways to get people the ball, whether that’s different types of pass routes, whether that’s different types of run schemes that you can get comfortable with, all those things.

“More ways to be at the point of attack to play within this offense, that’s what this offseason really provides for him. Seeing some strength gains, and you can tell by his body he’s put some work into it, and then him just understanding everything about our offense so he can be as big a part of it as possible. That’s his goal.”

McDaniel is right. Achane — who broke the team record for yards per carry and scored the second most touchdowns (11) ever by a Dolphins rookie — is demonstrably bigger and stronger than he was in Year 1.

But he is also in a different environment than he was a year before, with stiffer competition for carries.

The Dolphins surrendered a 2025 third-round pick for the opportunity to draft Tennessee’s Jaylen Wright in Round 4 this year. You don’t make that kind of investment without a clear vision for using a player this season.

Plus Raheem Mostert insists he feels “amazing,” even at 32 years old, so you can be sure he will get his touches too.

So it’s possible that Achane’s top-line stats actually go down in Year 2 even if his level of play does not.

KEEP READING: Raheem Mostert Views 2024 As Super Bowl-or-Bust for Dolphins

McDaniel acknowledged this week that a sophomore slump “is real” and “ever-present.” This is why he asked Achane in the rookie’s exit interview in January if he is expecting more or less in 2024 than in 2023.

“‘Well, if you’re expecting more, you definitely can’t do less,'” McDaniel told Achane. “‘You get out what you put in,’ and I think he’s aware of that because nobody wants to have the climax of their career be the first year.

“So, you just keep it real with guys and [be] very honest and bring up examples that’s happened in the course of your career and try to give them the most tools to succeed the way you know that they want to because a lot of times people always say, ‘Yeah, I want to be better,’ but it just doesn’t happen.”

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