Hall of Famer offers advice to struggling RB

Updated: November 20, 2003, 4:53 PM ET
Associated Press

DAVIE, Fla. -- Hall of Fame fullback Jim Brown has some advice for his friend Ricky Williams: Stop looking for a hole to run through, because there probably won't be one.

Brown has watched the Miami Dolphins struggle with their blocking this season, and he says Williams needs to run differently than last year, when he led the NFL with 1,853 yards rushing.

"The offensive line is not blocking well and is allowing a lot of penetration," Brown said Thursday in a telephone interview. "That makes Ricky very hesitant. He's reading too much and needs to make quicker decisions."

The two rushing champions are neighbors on South Beach. Brown said they last saw each other two weeks ago, and he hasn't shared his critique with Williams.

The Dolphins' workhorse has 802 yards rushing, which puts him on a pace to finish with 1,283. Injuries to linemen are considered the primary reason for Williams' reduced productivity.

Under the circumstances, Brown said, Williams needs to alter his running style beginning Sunday night against Washington.

"You have to adjust your thinking from a year ago, when you could read the play and then try to make a move," Brown said. Last year was like being a race car. Ricky could use his quickness and speed. Now he has to be a race car with his first move, then become a tank.

"Drop your shoulder, drive your legs and rely on body lean. It can be grueling and not very rewarding, but you've got to use your power."

Brown said his comments were "not a criticism, just an observation. If I saw Ricky today, I would tell him the same thing. He's a friend."

When told of Brown's comments, Williams acknowledged that he was too hesitant in his running earlier this season.

"I think that was the case a couple of weeks ago, but I've tried not to do that lately," he said. "I figured it out on my own."

Coach Dave Wannstedt and offensive coordinator Norv Turner declined to put any blame on Williams for the Dolphins' offensive woes. They scored a total of 16 points in the past two games.

"When there's a chance for Ricky to make positive yards, he has made them," Turner said.

Williams is averaging 3.5 yards per carry, compared with 4.8 last year. Miami ranks 20th in the NFL in rushing after finishing second in 2002, and that's at least partly because the line has been banged up.

An ankle injury sidelined tackle Mark Dixon for the entire season, guard Jamie Nails has struggled coming off Achilles' tendon surgery, and center Tim Ruddy has been slowed by an ailing knee.

Meanwhile, Wannstedt said Thursday he's encouraged by quarterback Jay Fielder's recovery from a sprained left knee that has sidelined him since Oct. 19. Wannstedt declined to say whether Fiedler or Brian Griese will start against Washington.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press