Well, we’ve finally made it everyone! The first week of real Miami Dolphins football (does preseason count as real?) is here. Our beloved Dolphins could be on the cusp of becoming a legitimate contender and with Xavien Howard back in the fold, expectations are lofty for this group. With higher expectation, comes increased scrutiny and there are several areas that fans should pay increased attention to this year.
The preseason can be underwhelming for some fans, but here are five storylines that will help to liven up these exhibition contests.
The shuffling of the offensive line
Offensive line play isn’t for everyone, but we could see some really fascinating developments with this group over the coming weeks. First off, there are a few players that have unexpectedly slid down the depth chart in some key positions. After starting thirteen games in 2020, Solomon Kindley has been working with the second and third string offense for much of camp. This dramatic fall from grace could be the Dolphins’ coaching staff sending a message to Kindley, or maybe he’s showing regression in his second NFL season. The reality is that we don’t know, but if Kindley remains with the second and third team throughout the preseason, that will be telling.
Matt Skura has also been playing with the second and third string line for the duration of camp. Skura was never a lock to start at center, but most analysts and fans expected him to at least be competing for that starting position. Skura had his struggles last year, but did start on a strong Baltimore Ravens’ offensive line from 2017-2020 (at guard in 2017, and center the remaining years). If Skura struggles during the preseason, we’ll know why he’s been buried on the depth chart. The coaches may also just be expecting him to take the job from Dieter, time will tell.
Film: Skura 2019 highlights
The overall structure of the line is also something worth paying attention to. Releasing DJ Fluker and moving Liam Eichenberg to guard has exposed Miami’s lack of depth at tackle. Jesse Davis is extremely valuable as a sixth offensive lineman. He can provide average play at multiple positions, but having him start at right tackle may not be ideal. Jermaine Eluemunor is a guy that started at right tackle on an elite New England offensive line last year, but hasn’t gotten many looks with the first team here in Miami.
Film: Eluemunor at RT 2020
There are only two positions that seem to completely locked down, left tackle (Austin Jackson) and right guard (Robert Hunt), but even those could be altered. This is a time for the Dolphins’ coaches to experiment and move players around, but as the preseason wears on we should get a better idea of what the offensive line will look like for week one at New England.