Miami Dolphins Ready To Let Turner/Thomas Take Over


When it comes to the Miami Dolphins the first thought normally slides to the offensive line. A troublesome group that simply can’t seem to get fixed. The Dolphins have had trouble finding solid lineman since the days of Dave Wannstedt although not for a lack of trying.

Wannstedt and Rick Spielman tried to fix the line with Olivier Vernon who would be a welcome addition to the team today, as a guard. Yet for all the trouble Miami has only been able to fix the line by position and not as a unit and unfortunately not at the same time.

Perhaps for the first time since that 2004 season the Dolphins are as close to having the problem solved yet two questions still remain and both of those questions sit at the guard positions. Can Billy Turner turn into a starting NFL guard? Will Dallas Thomas be tasked once again to fill that hole? For Dolphins fans let’s hope for the former of the two options.

Last season Thomas struggled so much that the end of the season came early on an otherwise promising mid-season performance for the group. Tannehill again spent more time running around the pocket but the Bill Lazor offense gave him a quicker read and kept him off the ground.

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With Mike Pouncey ready to re-assume his role as the teams center and Ja’wuan James moving back to right tackle, the Dolphins now only need to know if Branden Albert will be ready for the start of the season and then who will play the guard positions.

During the 2015 NFL Draft, Miami opted to go defensive line in round two instead of drafting a higher rated guard prospect. They turned to Jamil Douglas in round four after skipping the 3rd round entirely. They traded their third round pick to the New Orleans Saints for Kenny Stills. Douglas is going to be major competitor for this years squad.

If Turner, Thomas, and Douglas are not able to hold down the two guard spots, Miami may turn to tackle/guard Jason Fox or one of the three free agent lineman they picked up this off-season. Jeff Linkenbach has started three games in his six year career and has appeared in 16 games. J.D. Walton a former NY Giant, has started all 52 of the games he has appeared in but isn’t considered a viable option for the Dolphins as a starter. In other words he will compete for playing time.

Jacques McClendon has played in 22 games and has started five in his four seasons. The trio of McClendon, Walton, and Linkenbach give the Dolphins options or at the very least competition. The problem with each of them is that they don’t project as starters. All three are listed as “offensive lineman” with no specific position. A simple search of each player shows Walton listed as a center, Linkenbach as a tackle, and McClendon as the only guard of the three. Yet all three will likely see reps at guard.

Free agency is over but free agents still exist. The Dolphins could simply wait it out and see who will come to the market. Rumors continue to circulate that Eagles guard Evan Mathis may be cut and would be a solid choice for the Dolphins as a gap guard for another two years but the market doesn’t have any long term solutions on the shelves which comes all the way back to finding long term solutions on the roster. Youth.

What Miami will do is anybody’s guess and they may opt to do nothing at all. What we do know is that they outwardly seem to be comfortable with what they have today and that is why we have questions.