The Miami Dolphins offensive line had a performance to forget against the Buffalo Bills this past weekend.
We can’t put all of the blame on the linemen themselves, the protection scheme, game script, and running backs (when tasked with picking up rushers) all contributed to the abysmal performance we saw on Sunday.
First, lets review some of those statistical indicators of offensive line success and see where Miami ranked this week. As always, these advanced stats are accessed via SIS Data Hub Pro.
ATD: Average throw depth
YBC/A: Average yards before contact per attempt
I won’t be providing any kind of silver lining or explaining why certain stats might look bad when they aren’t because this group earned their low rankings this week. Like I previously stated, they weren’t the only issue that this offense faced, but they were one of the big problems against Buffalo.
That 56% pressure rate is a really bad number. It’s worse than any team’s final number in 2020 by a good 15%. The protections that Miami ran were clearly flawed and Buffalo’s coaching staff took full advantage of that.
Austin Jackson | LT
If you payed much attention at all during the preseason, you saw this one coming. Jackson was Miami’s worst offensive lineman through out the preseason and didn’t turn in a single promising performance. He followed that up with what is likely the worst pass blocking performance of his young career.
Jackson has clearly gotten worse from his 2020 rookie season, which is concerning. Rookie offensive line coach Lemuel Jeanpierre could be taking some heat for the obvious decline in Miami’s first round tackle, but Brian Flores deserves some of the blame here as well. They’ve been reluctant to move off Jackson, but it might be time to start thinking about shuffling this line up.
Solomon Kindley | LG
Kindley was replaced by UDFA Robert Jones late in this contest and also struggled. The coaching staff had stuck Kindley with the second and third team line at times this training camp, but it seems whatever message they wanted to send didn’t land for the big fish.
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Kindley is headed back to the bench against Las Vegas. Based purely off play on the field, Kindley hasn’t been their biggest problem. But the fans and media don’t know his assignment each and every play. My guess is, he hasn’t been living up to the coaches expectations or following their instructions.
Michael Deiter | C
If the rest of the line hadn’t been a revolving door this past weekend, Deiter’s performance could be more of a concern. He gave up a few quick pressures in this contest, which is always problematic from the center position. The center is also supposed to be the quarterback of the offensive line. When players are out of position and the defense is regularly getting free-runners, the center has some level of culpability.
Robert Hunt | RG
I was a big proponent of moving Rob Hunt to guard this year. I think his play style is geared towards success as an interior player, but he has not looked good there so far. Now this could just be him getting used to a new position next to a center who is also getting used to a new position (at the NFL level), but the results haven’t been spectacular.
According to Barry Jackson’s article cited earlier, there have apparently been private discussions about moving Hunt back to right tackle-where he played quite well down the stretch in 2020. We’ll see where he lines up against Vegas.
Jesse Davis | RT
Davis has been the target of many fan’s frustration, and for good reason. It was his man that came clean off the edge and injured Tua against the Bills. This season has been representative of Davis’ career. One game (or play) he’ll look like a solid veteran offensive lineman. The next, he’ll look below replacement level.
At this point, we know what Davis is. He is a versatile player that can fill in at a number of different positions… but you never quite know what you’ll get. That doesn’t sound like a recipe for success and Tua’s bruised ribs are paying the price.
Liam Eichenberg | RT
Eichenberg came into this game to replace an injured Davis after the flood gates had already opened, so to speak. Miami was dropping back the majority of plays and the Bills pass rushers were head hunting. This sort of game script puts more stress on an offensive line and Eichenberg surrendered a few pressures in his half of play. The rookie didn’t look great, but he’s far from the problem with this group.
Earlier in the offseason, I wrote an article titled “Chris Grier is on the hook for the Miami Dolphins offensive line.” In that article, I outlined some concerns that I had about the Dolphin’s offensive line coming into the 2021 season. I didn’t see an offensive line that was one draft pick away from being whole, and the lack of established veterans was especially concerning to me.
I didn’t want them to, but my concerns have turned out to be valid. One of the main issues with building your offensive line through the draft only, is that you’re banking on all of those picks panning out and developing quickly-two outcomes that we know to be highly unlikely. By not adding veteran talent to this group, Miami put all their eggs in one basket.
So, where do they go from here? It seems likely that a minor reshuffle is going to occur against Vegas, but I doubt that will be enough. They need to consider an extensive overhaul and unless things turn around quickly, the offensive line will be a focus this offseason-yet again. Let me know in the comments what you think the Dolphins should do to address this growing issue.