The Miami Dolphins are set up for a bright future on offense with budding stars such as Reggie Bush, Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, Jake Long, Mike Pouncey and many others. But who really holds the key to this offense’s success? A big group, the offensive line.
We all know about Jake Long. Yes, he’s potentially the best left tackle in the league. Yes, he’s a freak of nature, practically a god-like figure. He’s the glue. Next to Long is Richie Incognito. Cog scares me, personally. Not because he’s monstrous in size or that he’s an absolute mauler. What scares me about Cog is the fact that he’s 28 years old and is starting to slow down. We all saw what Vernon Carey did last season, excellent run blocking but horrible pass blocking. Yes, it’s hard to be terrible next to the best left tackle in the NFL, but Cog is getting up there in age and must prove his worth (or he will be replaced, Nate Garner?). Mike Pouncey is the big man in the middle. Pouncey should surprise people this year with his improved strength and agility. After a strong rookie campaign, Pouncey should break out entirely this year as a leader of this team. John Jerry is expected to be the right guard after filling in admirably for injured starters last season. Jerry is a young athletic lineman who played as a rookie, but lost his job after getting lazy and seemed worn down as the season progressed. Jerry should be able to bounce back in his third season with the team and solidify the middle of the ‘phins offensive line. Rookie Jonathan Martin and fourth year man – Lydon Murtha – will battle it out for the final offensive line spot at right tackle. Both are big lanky athletic linemen, but I believe Martin will steal the show in the end. Martin has all of the tools to be the best right tackle in the NFL. With his athletic ability and long arms, Martin could even slide to left tackle if need be (If long gets injured, I am in no way saying he’s a replacement for long…).
So how do these big fellas hold the key to the offense’s success? Simple. Miami has a stable of running backs that is almost unfair. With speedy backs – Reggie Bush, Lamar Miller and Steve Slaton – and bruisers – Daniel Thomas and Jerome Messam – Miami’s running backs are obviously the strong point of the team. All fit the west coast system perfectly with finesse running styles and excellent hands. With a large, quick and athletic offensive line in front of these running backs, Miami very well could lead the league in rushing (highly unlikely in the west coast system, although Vick’s Atlanta teams did it). Now, let’s say that teams load the box and stuffs the run. With athletic quarterbacks – Matt Moore, David Garrard (who has actually dropped what looks to be 15+ pounds) and Ryan Tannehill – Miami can sling it if need be. This offensive line will give whoever is throwing the ball 4+ seconds to find someone. If nobody is open, all three possess the athletic ability to buy more time until someone breaks open. Yes, I know Miami lacks a true number one wide receiver. So? Do the New England Patriots have one? Nope. With Brian Hartline, Clyde Gates, Davone Bess and a group of promising rookies, Miami has a group of receivers that in some ways resembles New England’s receiving corps in recent years. What am I saying? Give any quarterback four to five seconds to throw the ball, he will find someone to throw the ball to. Create holes that a mack truck could drive through, your running backs will gain 5+ yards per carry. It’s just simple football.
No team can go without their offensive line. Linemen are the most important pieces to any team. This offensive line that the Miami Dolphins have can be something special. Give them time to mesh and anything can happen. Have faith in the big boys this year ‘phin fans!!!
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