Dolphins’ Ireland Stresses Change On Offensive Line
By Brian Miller
Feb 21, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Central Michigan offensive lineman Eric Fisher speaks at a press conference during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Ireland spoke with the media today as part of his pre-draft communications with people outside of the Miami Dolphins. As expected, Ireland was coy about his plans and offered just enough smoke and mirror to keep his plans covered. One position however wasn’t actually veiled in that secrecy. The offensive line, and whether you want to believe him or not, his demeanor and body movements spoke volumes of likely truth.
Ireland said that the team is determined to make over the line offensively. He spoke early on about “having the ammo” to move up to number one if they wanted but then said he doesn’t see himself do that. He often spoke about possibly trading up and then covered up by saying he could trade down. Earlier a Miami Herald reporter stated that the Dolphins are not high on LT Lane Johnson but instead very interested in Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher.
The Dolphins without question would need to trade up to land one of those two and it will be expensive.
Ireland dismissed TE with as much as a wave of his hand. He acknowledged that the NFL is now a market for more athletic pass catching TE’s than in the past where big bodied ends were used differently. When asked if Ireland considered TE a “core” position, Ireland danced around the question before saying no.
There has been doubts about the Dolphins opinion of Jonathan Martin’s ability to man the left side in replacement of Jake Long. The Dolphins want to get more athletic across the line of scrimmage as opposed to the beefy lineman they employed under Tony Sparano. Ireland wrapped up his first Oline questions talking about the core of the unit. Singling out Martin, Mike Pouncey, and Ritchie Incognito as being the core and then giving Nate Garner some props as part of that core as well. Interestingly he said that the depth was young and inexperienced and that the team needed to find experienced lineman. Could this talk of lineman be a ruse for a possible trade for a veteran or is this something that may hint at an intention to sign Eric Winston?
In regards to Eric Winston I find one thing odd. He has visited Miami twice in consecutive seasons. Fits the mold of character and talent that Joe Philbin likes and seems to be a very solid fit for the scheme yet the Dolphins have passed now…twice. Perhaps Ireland has told Winston to go see what others would be offering him. If that is the case apparently it’s not much as he is still unemployed. Of course that could change any day.
With two weeks until the draft, Miami is in full preparation mode. They will explore moving up and down and ranking their players according to Ireland’s “horizontal” board. One thing however seems to be clear. The Dolphins, according to Ireland will address the offensive line and none of the options of how to address that are ruled out. Of course, at this point nothing anyone says can really be believed.