- Suh Signs! Ndamukong Suh receives nearly $60 Million signing bonus with $114+ Million total over 6 years
- WR Hartline cut after 6 seasons WR Gibson was also released
- Mike Tannenbaum hired... ...as Dolphins' executive VP of football operations
- Philbin retained Coach Philbin was given a contract extension
Issue #2: Putting the “Offensive” in Offensive Line
*Since finding stats for Offensive Lineman without a subscription to “Pro Football Focus” proved too much for my meager internet capabilities, this post will be shorter than intended and will be based on the ‘eye ball test’.*
Even two weeks after the season is over, to simply say that the Miami Dlphins had a terrible offensive line just feels like a MASSIVE understatement! The French put up more of a fight in WWII!
The following will chronicle this writer’s feel for how each member of the Dlphins offensive line contributed to this massive failing. (Just to make it a LITTLE more interesting, I am going to rank them in order of MOST OFFENSIVE.) It will also include possible replacements available in free agency and the draft. Without further ado, let’s get started!
JONATHAN MARTIN (LT)
Where to begin? Too weak to run block…too weak to pass block…too weak in the head! Martin barely gets the #1 slot on this list because of ‘bullygate’. It was bad enough that he looked even worse at LT than he didatRTin 2012. Add to that dropping a grenade into the Dlphins locker room and you have THE biggest ‘offensive’ lineman on the team!
Possible replacements: Brandon Albert (FA), Marshall Newhouse (FA), Michael Oher (FA), Jared Veldheer (FA), Eugene Monroe (FA), Greg Robinson (LT-Auburn), Taylor Lewan (LT-Michigan), Antonio Richardson Cyrus Kouandjio (LT-Alabama), Cameron Irving (LT-Florida State), Corey Robinson (LT-South Carolina)
Analysis: Dlphins will get another chance at Albert, who they flirted with acquiring during the 2013 draft, but this time no draft compensation will be needed (just a HUGE deal). Oher has been inconsistent in Baltimore but still an upgrade for Miami. Veldheer is a name many don’t know; an underrated LT for the Oakland Raiders. Monroe might not see free agency but he is a solid tackle. Free agent ‘sleeper’? Marshall Newhouse; an average tackle but, unfortunately, may end up in Miami considering his GB ties. As for possible draft picks, I didn’t include Matthews because Miami isn’t to jump into the Top 5 to get him. Of the draft prospects Miami could select, the one I have currently soured on the most is Kouandjio. He was pretty solid for Alabama all year but got his butt handed to him the last two games of the season.
I don’t know what he was drinking in Atlanta but he forgot to bring it when he signed with Miami. He was decent in run blocking but a complete LIABILITY in pass protection. Not since the days of Marc Columbo had Miami seen such a ‘turnstile’ at RT. He got benched in the middle of the season, until the Martin/Incognito fiasco forced him back into the lineup. At that point, Clabo was receiving constant help in pass pro duties. (Although the TE/backs assigned to help sucked almost as much.)
Possible replacements: Anthony Collins (FA), Roger Saffold (FA), Michael Oher (FA), Zach Strief (FA), Eric Winston (FA)
Analysis: Included Oher here as well because most NFL analysts believe he is better suited for this side but he can play both. Strief (30) is a little old for the Philbin/Ireland model but Ireland is gone (yay!) and the new GM may care more about ability than age. Just like Albert, the Dolphins get another shot at Winston; who is a solid tackle but not elite by any means. Anthony Collins & Roger Saffold are, IMO, the best two FA RT available. As for draft options, haven’t spent a lot of time looking at college right tackles so I will have to get back to you.
RICHIE INCOGNITO/SAM BRENNER/NATE GARNER
Here is where I expect the most resistance. I am sure that many will want John Jerry in this spot but the fact that none of THREE men could fill the LG position adequately just sticks in my craw. I am beginning to cut Incognito some slack for his off-the-field issues (although he is still a ‘meathead’) but even his on-the-field play was subpar. Maybe it was the loss of his buddy Jake Long but Incognito was false-starting and whiffing the first half of the season away. Garner came in and proved HE certainly is nothing more than a stopgap option. For a couple of games, Brenner was hailed as a ‘hidden gem’ but even HE was replaced at season’s end due to average play. Overall, an average bunch at LG.
Possible replacements: Travelle Wharton (FA), Chad Rinehart (FA), Wade Smith (FA)
Analysis: I am not overly impressed with the free agent LG options (although, I am not great at assessing guards to begin with). Wharton was LG for a pretty successful Carolina Panthers OL this year. Rinehart helped KC field a VERY GOOD OL. Wade Smith, former Dlphin, is a bit ‘long in the tooth’ (32 yrs old) but signing him at LG would still instantly upgrade the position. As for draft options, check back with me after the all-star games, combine, etc.
The ‘Jeff Ireland’ of the offensive line. (LOL) The Dlphins current RG been on the ‘hot seat’ almost since he arrived in South Florida. An average guard who is constantly fighting weight issues (okay, he’s FAT!), does not possess the athletic ability to be a pulling guard and can’t hold the point-of-attack in the run game. That being said, for better or worse, he has been one of the more consistent members of the Dlphins OL. Management keeps bringing in challengers and Jerry keeps beating them out.
Possible Replacements: Jon Asamoah (FA), Brian Waters (FA)
Analysis: Both of these men are very good guards on very good lines. There are other options at RG but these two definitely stand out.
Widely considered the best lineman on this Dlphins team. He can pull, rarely botches a snap and is above average in pass pro. He is going to his first Pro Bowl this month and he certainly deserves it. Pouncey is definitely one of Jeff Ireland’s few draft pick ‘success stories’.
Possible Repalcement: Alex Mack (FA)
Analysis: I can’t take credit for this one. Thomas Galicia, of Bleacherreport.com, suggested that Miami could pursue Mack, who is a VERY good center and probably an upgrade over Pouncey. This move would also allow Pouncey to move to guard where many experts thought was his best position coming out of college. I am not sure if I advocate this move BUT it would allow Pouncey to use his athletic ability and be that pulling guard this offense has always dreamed about.
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