All the talk coming from Miami Dolphins training camp during the last week pointed to significant concerns on the offensive line. We all know that Jake Long left via free agency this offseason and that the Dolphins back office passed on the opportunity to trade a second round pick for the Kansas City Chiefs’ Brandon Albert. So instead Miami has second year pro Jonathan Martin on quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s blind side.
Is two weeks of practice and three “drives” in a preseason game enough for concern?
Early reports from camp say that rookie Dion Jordan — who missed all but rookie camp before training camp began — has beaten Martin on a substantial number of the plays where they match up. In his first real practice, with hitting and pads on, Jordan had two sacks on Tannehill. Maybe Jordan is that good, or maybe we have a problem.
The success against Martin extends passed Jordan. Second year pro Olivier Vernon has been receiving rave reviews from camp, but he also has reportedly beaten Martin too many times. Word all around camp is Martin doesn’t look good. Not even close.
In the first preseason game the entire starting offensive line started the beginning of the game. That meant no excuses. Well, first play was a fumble and that wasn’t the offensive line’s fault, so second drive? He had one good pass block followed by a horrible one that led to Tannehill having to throw the ball away. It was Dallas’ backup linebacker Kyle Wilber who beat Martin. That was basically the end for Martin who was replaced by rookie Dallas Thomas who barely gave up a fight to the Dallas linebacker on his first play, which led to back up quarterback Matt Moore to getting mauled.
So what do we know so far about Martin? Not much.
As Dolphins fans we haven’t had to worry about the left side for the last five years. Drafting Long number one overall in 2008 solidified that position (for the most part), even when Long was battling injury.
Miami spent more than any NFL team this offseason to help update the roster and push this team into playoff contention and beyond, but what about the left tackle? Should we be concerned that Martin, who was fairly strong on the right side last season, but struggled on the left when Long was battling injuries, is now the number one guy at the left tackle position?
I say we give him more time and continue tinkering with the offensive line, but that being said this team has had too much bad luck to think this could play out over the season. The current crop off free agent left tackles is thin, but is headlined by former two-time Pro Bowler Jammal Brown (last with the Washington Redskins) and Jared Gaither (last with the San Diego Chargers).
Yes, the Dolphins should be giving Martin more time to adjust to his position — and they are. Luckily Miami has a top defensive line unit, which means if Martin can adjust blocking against them he has the potential to do so against any team in the league. If he continues to struggle, however, the Dolphins have a big decision to make and they’re going to have to act fast to fix it.