Miami Dolphins Offensive Line Should Be Seen, Not Heard

phinsThere’s been a lot of noise around the Miami Dolphins this offseason. From the big spending in free agency, trading all the way up to the third pick in the draft to select Dion Jordan, the makeover, all the way to training camp where things have yet to quiet down. One unit in particular that is generating a lot of buzz in Davie is the offensive line.

This is rarely a good thing, and it most certainly isn’t for the Dolphins.

Having played on the offensive line back in my glory days, I understand the position. It isn’t glorious, you don’t get much recognition, and no one really knows a whole lot about you. And that’s the way it should be.

Think about it, when an offensive lineman is acknowledged during a game, it can only mean a few things. The most common circumstance is when a penalty is called: “Holding, number 75, offense.” And the home crowd rains boos on its underappreciated player. Another time would be an injury, as these guys give and receive harsh physical contact on nearly every play, and every now and then, the broadcast team may have some kind words for the big uglies.

The Miami o-line talk all started back in free agency, when former first overall pick Jake Long decided to head for greener pastures in St. Louis. GM Jeff Ireland flirted with Kansas City’s Brandon Albert, and when a deal couldn’t be struck, all signs pointed to Miami taking a tackle with their first pick. General consensus was that Miami would have to move up to select one of the draft’s premier tackles, but when the trade came the pick was Dion Jordan, a pass rusher.

Fast forward a few months to OTAs, where questions about Johnathan Martin at left tackle and right guard John Jerry’s weight were raised. Here we sit, a week into the preseason and Martin still hasn’t answered any questions and Jerry has yet to partake in training camp due to injury.

And that’s just the beginning.

With Jerry out, the right guard position has been a revolving door and the line a game of musical chairs. Free agent signee right guard Lance Louis has been injured all offseason. Rookie Dallas Thomas got reps at left guard while Richie Incognito moved to the right. He was then demoted and Incognito moved back to the left when promising young prospect Josh Samuda started to turn heads at practice. Samuda got some looks at center with Mike Pouncey switching to right guard and then back again. Thomas also got some looks at left tackle, meanwhile free agent signee Tyson Clabo has maintained the right tackle spot.

Thus far, Martin has been the consistent starter at left tackle, manning quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s blind side with Incognito. Pouncey, easily the only sure thing on the entire front is sticking at center, and after starting against Jacksonville and putting on a poor show, Samuda had been demoted back to the second team. Veteran Nate Garner was lining up with the starters this week at right guard before suffering a shoulder injury that will keep him out indefinitely, which brought Samuda back up with the starters.

As of Wednesday’s practice, the starting line (from left) was Martin, Incognito, Pouncey, Samuda, and Clabo. Louis and Jerry have participated in individual drills but not much contact. With three preseason games remaining, the unit has time to solidify and find an identity. Jerry is in shape and should be ready to go before the regular season and he should shore up the right side. However, for Fins fans, it shouldn’t be too exciting that there have been more starting O-line combinations than actual lineman on the roster during training camp.

I’m not ready to freak out about this O-Line and dub the season over before it begins, only two games have been played. But still, if they don’t figure it out, all of the moves made in the offseason will be for naught. As the preseason drags on, let’s hope mum is the word on the Dolphins offensive front.