The Dolphins offensive line has looked much improved over the last two weeks. Is it a trend that fans can count on continuing or ‘fools gold’?
Head coach Adam Gase and OC Clyde Christensen have spent all off-season and training camp looking for the five best Dolphins offensive lineman to put on the field for Week 1 vs Seattle.
Current status of the offensive line
Branden Albert looks to have fully recovered from his ACL issue he suffered in 2014. Barring injury, he hasn’t played a full season since 2011, he looks prepared to anchor the left side and protect Ryan Tannehill’s blind side.
Laremy Tunsil appears to have finally overtaken Dallas Thomas as the starting left guard. He looks good in pass blocking but appears to have trouble moving NFL defensive tackles in the run game.
The center position is surprisingly solid at this time. When Pouncey bruised his hip in Week 2, there was major nail-biting. However, Anthony Steen looks more than capable of filling in until Pouncey is fully recovered.
Right guard appears to still be a concern entering the final preseason game; not surprising since it’s been a position in flux going back to the John Jerry days. Jermon Bushrod, Jamil Douglas, Billy Turner and even Dallas Thomas are still sharing time at that position.
Ja’Wuan James has had a couple bad moments but seems to have recovered from last year’s injury. He still struggles with speed rushers but might be the best run-blocker not named Mike Pouncey on the roster.
So why the concern?
Despite being set at four of the five positions on the offensive line, why should fans still be concerned entering the season? After all, Tannehill hasn’t been sacked the past two preseason games (roughly equating to three quarters of work).
First of all, when grading Miami’s performance, you have to take into account the level of their opposition. The Dolphins last two opponents, Dallas and Atlanta, finished last year 25th and 32nd respectively in sacks. (Not to mention that Dallas didn’t have their three leading pass rushers from last year on the field for the game.)
Secondly, run blocking is also a major part of the offensive line’s job. Through three games, if you remove both positive and negative QB runs, Dolphins has rushed 81 times for 262 yards for 3.2yds/carry. (Also, if you remove Isaiah Pead’s 45-yard run in the third quarter of the Dallas game, against 2nd/3rd stringers, you end up with 80 rushes for 217 yards or 2.7yds/carry.)
Be optimistic! This Dolphins line should be improved over last year. Miami has improved at LG and the ‘up tempo’ offense should make their job easier as the game goes on/defense tires. Just don’t expect a major improvement based on what you have seen against two of the weaker defenses in the league last year.