Miami Dolphins Quarter Grades: Offensive Line
By Brian Miller
It’s time to finish out run of offensive grades. In this article I will give both an offensive line grade and a grade for the whole of the offense in general. So you get a two for one without having to read an article that basically repeated everything I already said in every other grade article. I know, I’m in a good mood today so why not be nice?
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This is going to be easy. The final grade? It’s an “A” a very respectable “A”. The offensive line has kept Ryan Tannehill relatively clean and has opened some of the biggest running lanes we have seen in Miami since Ricky Williams toted the ball. In fact the running lanes often look the Dolphins were running the Wild Cat but of course they were not.
The line has been anchored by five new starters across the entire line from right to left. A rookie anchors the right side while a big payday free agent anchors the left. A former Dolphins draft pick calls the blocking assignments while the team awaits the return of the pro-bowl center and in the guard slots are a couple of guys that are flying way under the radar.
To me there is no bigger surprise than Ja’Wuan James. On either side of the ball or on any unit. Veteran or rookie. James was not a pick I would have made in this past May’s draft. In fact I hated the pick. I was wrong and am very glad to say that. James has had one mediocre game against the Kansas City Chiefs but the entire line didn’t play well that game. James handled Mario Williams of Buffalo holding him without a sack, the lone Williams sack came when he stunted off the guard. James continues to get better on the field and it’s only a matter of time that he becomes yet another leader on this team. I absolutely love watching this kid play. He is physical and athletic and uses his arms and legs well to keep defenders out of the play.
Branden Albert is everything the Dolphins have wanted in a left tackle. Sorry Jake Long but Albert is becoming a vocal leader on the field and on the line and frankly through four weeks has outplayed you. Durability is a concern but that will be a concern later in the year. Hopefully the Dolphins won’t have to worry about that too much as Albert is not having to dig in like he has in previous years that has caused his back to flair up. Albert had a spectacular open field tackle last weekend against an Oakland Raider corner who picked off a Ryan Tannehill pass. Albert is stepping up and playing better than most would have expected.
The interior consists of Daryn Colledge and a platoon of Billy Turner, Shelley Smith, and Dallas Thomas at the right guard. Colledge is playing so well at LG that you forget half the time he is there. He just plays football and he plays it well. Smith should be starting on the right side but injuries have kept him out of games and while Thomas and Turner are not playing bad there is a lot of room for them to improve. There is no question that RG is Miami’s weakest line spot.
Samson Satele has done well while Mike Pouncey has been out but the Dolphins expect to have him back in another week and that will make the Dolphins offensive line better. It should make the offensive line better. If it does improve the lines performance and Shelley Smith can elevate the right side there is no knowing how far this offensive line, a problem for decades, can take this team and know this, the Dolphins are being carried and shouldered by an offensive line group who have never played together until this year. They have found that commonality to be their motivation. And it is working.