The biggest problem of the Miami Dolphins is their offensive line. It is simply unacceptable to allow 24 sacks through the first 5 games of the season (an NFL worst thus far). How many times have we seen Johnathon Martin and Tyson Clabo get run over or blown by resulting in Ryan Tannehill lying on his back? Where is our much anticipated running game? While it is easy to put the blame on Miami’s offensive line for their recent troubles, some of the OL’s woes are on Offensive Coordinator Mike Sherman.
Sherman knows Tannehill better than anybody after coaching him throughout his college career at Texas A&M. Sherman should also know the skill set of his offensive line, especially after these first five games. I think that one of the reasons this offensive line is struggling so much is that they are being asked to do more than they are able to do. It appears as though Martin and Clabo can’t hold their blocks for very long, play after play, and Mike Sherman needs to realize this. He has one of the most athletic QB’s in the league. Tannehill is very accurate when rolling to either side, and yet the majority of Miami’s passing plays keep Tannehill in the pocket, only to get mowed over by seemingly unblocked opposing defenders. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Granted, a good portion of Miami’s 24 given up sacks have come from Tannehill not getting rid of the ball. That being said, Sherman needs to step it up and play to his quarterback’s strengths, which include his arms strength, mobility and accuracy.
Look at the dynamic offenses in this league, like the Denver Broncos. I understand that their offensive line is head over heels more talented than Miami’s (though I’ll take Pouncey over just about any other center). Still, the ball is usually out of Peyton Mannings’ hands before you can blink. He gives the defense zero time to react, let alone rush. The majority of Peyton’s plays are dump downs and quick outs to his receivers, which moves the chains and opens up the deep ball down field. He is able to throw his deep balls as a result of the short, quick passes that come before. The same can be said about Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. These offenses do have better offensive lines, but their playcalling is still much more varied and thus effective. Mike Sherman is capable of implementing these same ideas.
A great comparison of this Miami Dolphins offensive line and quarterback this season is the Indianapolis Colts of last year. Andrew Luck is very similar to Tannehill. He possesses great arm strength and can make every throw. He is an incredbile athlete and his accuracy does not suffer when he is rolled out or on the move. Last year, the Colts’ offensive line was abysmal. They gave up the 9th most sacks last year (41) and the second most QB hits (116). Yet, Luck led the offesne time after time to victories. Why? Bruce Arians played to his QB’s strengths and against the offensive line’s weaknesses. He constantly rolled Luck out, away from the pass rush. The result? Long, time consuming drives down the field that opened up big plays, whether a deep pass or a long run by the athletic quarterback.
Maybe I am wrong. Maybe the Dolphins’ situation is different or that the offensive line will simly piece it together one of these weeks. Hopefully, it will all “click.” But in the mean time, let’s think about what is at risk. Ryan Tannehill has been banged up and it won’t be long until he takes a shot that leaves him injured. “Fixing” the offensive line is not realistic at this point, as making a trade would weaken another area of this Miami team and the avalaible Free Agents are just stop-gaps and could make matters worse. Rather, it is up to Mike Sherman to learn to work with what he’s got. What he has is an extremely talented and athletic QB. It’s about time we used him properly before he ends up on the sideline with an injury.