No other position group of the Miami Dolphins is under more scrutiny than the offensive line and it is the one position fans want changed immediately.
Mike McDaniel wants to rebuild the run game and make it elite. That has been his bread and butter as an NFL coach. He can’t achieve that with the current offensive line. McDaniel wasted little time hiring a new offensive line coach, Boston College coach Matt Applebaum. Afterwards, he kept Miami’s previous Oline coach, Lemuel Jeanpierre as an assistant line coach. The real work however, will be in how they revamp the offensive line.
Only one player on the Dolphins roster is scheduled to be a free agent, center Greg Mancz. That leaves a lot of players under contract who managed to rank as one of the worst units in the NFL.
Currently the Dolphins contracted starting roster along the Oline looks like this.
- Michael Dieter – Center
- Robert Hunt – Guard
- Jesse Davis – LT
- Liam Eichenberg – RT
- Austin Jackson – Guard
Needless to say, it’s not overly impressive. Dieter did o.k but wasn’t great and Liam Eichenberg was up and down, mostly down, all season as a rookie. The best of the group by far was Robert Hunt. Miami needs to get better and assuming that a new line coach will fix the problems is shortsighted at best. The Dolphins need new talent.
The worst part is that the depth along the line isn’t much better, on paper. Robert Jones and Solomon Kindley could still develop but they are not ready yet. Jesse Davis is a solid backup but not a starter. Austin Jackson needs to grow a lot and is not a starter yet either.
The rest of the roster is made up of developmental players.
Miami has the money to overhaul the line but they can’t spend all of their space on lineman and it is too early to give up on several of the lineman they have now including Jackson, Hunt, Kindley, Dieter, and Eichenberg. This is why I see the Dolphins maybe adding one top lineman in free agency and then add others on short one or two year deals at most. Giving the new coaching staff time to develop the players on the roster now.
Dolphins fans are salivating at the prospect of adding guys like Brandon Scherff, Nate Solder, Cam Robinson, and Terron Armstead but I wouldn’t count on any of them coming to Miami. For starters, all but Robinson are over the age of 30.
Make no mistake, Miami has no choice but to do something. Poor drafting at the positions has caught up with Miami and poor free agency decisions hasn’t helped.
A great look at the impending free agents across the league and at each position can be read here.
Orlando Brown, Jr. may be a solid option at tackle. He is 25 years old and coming off a good year with the Chiefs. The aforementioned Robinson is also a solid left tackle prospect and is only 26 years old.
It is going to be hard to predict what the Dolphins will do in free agency. They are in a bad spot given some of the current contracts they have. No matter, they can’t go into the season believing that the line is fine and only needs to be coached up. If they do, the Dolphins and Mike McDaniels system will fail from the start.