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Dolphins OLine still searching for right mix

It boggles my mind that after 14 games the Miami Dolphins are 9-5 this season. It totally blows my mind they are 9-5 with an unsettled offensive line.

And yet that is exactly where the Dolphins are today as they head into the final two games of the season with a playoff berth hanging in the balance.

The Dolphins have been trying to upgrade the right guard position since, oh, Week 3 when it became clear Ikechuku Ndukwe is a hard-working second-year player doing his best to fill in ... but that's it. He is about effort and desire but for a position that requires strength and explosion and pop, he's not there yet.

The Dolphins tried three or four players in games in place of Ndukwe during the season and haven't really found the perfect answer yet. But maybe, just maybe, they found a viable upgrade the last couple of weeks.

Last week the Dolphins unveiled the idea of moving starting center Samson Satele to right guard and plugging in veteran Al Johnson at center. The idea was hatched the second Johnson signed and it has come to a Miami offensive line near you.

This move is meant to address two issues: Improve the right guard play. And improve the center play.

That's right, I said improve the center play. Satele has started all 30 NFL games he's played but the Dolphins have seen some spotty work by him, particularly the second half of this season. He was dominated by Vince Wilfork a few weeks ago, and he hasn't been exactly outstanding in pass protection the past couple of weeks.

Last week was particularly curious for Satele. In one terrible series in the first quarter against San Francisco, he was called for a false start (from the center position no less) and then he followed that up the next play by giving up a sack when he whiffed in trying to get his hands on a defender.

The very next series Satele was shifted over to right guard and Johnson was inserted at center. Johnson played two series which translated to eight plays. He didn't make any mistakes that could be easily detectable to the lay person, such as myself.

So Johnson may be playing himself into more playing time very soon.

“Yeah, I can see that," coach Tony Sparano said Thursday when he was asked if Johnson might be getting more playing time very soon. "I can see Al getting more work during the course of the games.”

That quote sounds remotely similar to the one Sparano gave when he inserted Renaldo Hill as a starter into the secondary. It also sounds similar to the one he gave when the team at first began playing Jason Allen as the nickel cornerback -- a move that Randy Moss single-handedly forced the Dolphins to scrap.

Anyway, you have to remember this is a two-pronged hope for improving the line. The Dolphins hope they can improve the center spot with Johnson, yes, but there is still that troublesome right guard spot to be addressed. And apparently Satele isn't bad there.

“Not bad. Good," Sparano said. "Samson played pretty good. Again, it was eight plays worth of work out there and in some of those, he wasn’t really challenged a whole lot. He didn’t have a guy on him is what I’m saying."

Sparano went on to make the point Satele played guard at Hawaii and that, as the Dallas offensive line coach, Sparano studied the player before the draft.

"We really looked at him as a swing player at the time when we were in Dallas -- a center-guard," the coach said. "We knew that was something that he has done and I think, athletically, when you take the ball out from between his legs and you put him over there at guard, it gives him a chance to get his hands on people a little bit faster. So I thought he did a pretty good job.”

Well, don't be surprised if the Dolphins take the ball out from between Satele's legs more the final two weeks. Don't be surprised if eventually Johnson takes over at center and Satele and Ndukwe battle it out at right guard.

Doesn't that blow your mind?


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Doesnt it blow your mind that Greg Cote is going by the "if i keep picking the dolphins to lose, i'll have to eventually be right" approach

What blows my mind is that we are actually in a pretty good position to win outright the AFC east. wow..from 1-15 to whining about how bad they looked after their ninth win of the season..Not Bad Tuna..:)

When will the O-line EVER be a factor in winning football games around here?

No. Satele has not played well at all. I will not be surprised if he is not a starter next year. Disappointed but not surprised.

this game will be like the Pittsburg game last year, the one that scores wins. Like last year, conditions miserable, the D will make the difference. Miami 6 KC 3. The Hero of the game, Carpenter. His experience in cold weather Montana, and why we drafted him, to win for us in December. Think about it.

Satele ain't done yet. There is alot of football left in that kid. He just isn't big enough to handle the Wilforks of the world. We need a monster center and a monster nose tackle. When the phins have that it forces the opposition to take one more step the get the job done on both sides of the ball.

Jason Taylor admits he's not worth the $8 million the Skins are paying him. He said this in a radio interview and that he would not be surprised if the Skins cut him next year. Here is the link from PFT http://www.profootballtalk.com/category/rumor-mill/

I know this team has a lot of needs, but I would love them to pick an offensive lineman with one of their 1st 3 picks next year. This is a very good draft for offensive tackles and centers.

Jason Taylor is one of my favorite Dolphins ever (i dont think ive ever seen anyone play as hard as he did, and he hated the Jets), but he is definetely not worth $8 million. How about Ireland and Parcelss trading a 34 year old defensive end for 2nd and 6th round picks, and saving $8 million in cap space. They fleeced the Redskins. That extra 2nd rounder is really going to help this team. And as the Redskins keep losing, that pick gets better every week.

Aye the Taylor trade was a great one. Now hopefully someone will give us a second rounder for Ginn and another for Beck.

Unsettled line eh? So why is it that Jake Long is not as good as Ryan Clady again? Maybe Ryan benefits from, oh I dont know, a settled OLine? A Poor AFC West? But Jake plays on a constantly changing OLine, where he is the only constantly consistent player, most of the time without TE help, yet Ryan Clady keeps getting the best rookie OT press. Im not syaing Clady is good, but I do know that the fins were 1-15 last year and we are 9-5 this year despite the patchwork line. Chad Pennington isn't doing it by himself, someone is protecting his blindside.

I hope the Fins do cut him and Taylor eats some humble pie and comes back to Miami and retires a fin with a ring. Can you imagine having both he and Porter healthy and on opposite ends of the line? Cameron blew it last year with those two.

That was supposed to read, I hope the skins cut him

No that just blows. You stink.

THANK YOU JASON!! All I've heard all year is Ryan Clady, best rookie OT, 4th round pick (or whatever he was). I'm sick of hearing about it. He was thrust into a dream system for O-linemen, on a team that's going to the playoffs tied with the worst record of any division leading team, PLEASE! Jason said it all, "1-15," now "9-5." That says it all. As far as Satele, I'm not sure he's done at center. Yeah, he's not as big as some of those guys, but he's pretty athletic, we'll have to see how Johnson does in the Wildcat. Also, next year we'll have the Donald back and that will do alot to shore up that right side.

Taylor back in dolphins uniform next year? maybe

Well, the team does have two OL coaches...one of whom is the head coach...

Someone mentioned draft picks.
Do we even need high draft picks?
Didn't we sign Alleman off the street mid-season and make him a starter?
And Bess, who set the NCAA record for receptions, was undrafted and now he's a starter.
Those guys aren't making any money.

4.75% 30 year fixed

If we draft no one and just bring undrafted guys into camp to compete I bet anything we lack in quality is made up for in motivation.
Lets face it an undrafted football player is headed for a career in the border patrol at best.

Sparano’s comments were masking his opinion that Satele was viewed by the Cowboys as a decent back-up who could play guard or center. At 6’3” 300LBs he not in the mold of a Sparano/Parcells offensive lineman. He has great lower body strength and good feet but he does not have the upper body strength and punch Sparano likes. I’m not saying he is a bad player, but he is not a good fit. He would do very well in a Denver zone blocking scheme and I think that was the type of OL Cameron was looking for. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was traded because he has value but he is just not a good fit.

i say we keep beck..thers nothing wrong with having 3 qbs..Supposedly paul soliai is doing a good job spotting ferguson at NT. i would still draft a NT arround the 4-5 round unless we can get better value. We need corners even though the secondary has stepped it up particularly Goodman, and a big physical Wide Receiver.

Next Year
The battle wouldnt be between Nedukwe and Satele...it would be between Donald Thomas and Satele..

Since Thomas has allready been proclaimed a stud where does this leave Satele???

I've endured tons of ridicule since last yr when I dared to suggest that Satele was only perceived as good because he was being compared to the rest of Cam/Mueller's woeful draft. The blind Fin Fans were convinced, even into this season, that Satele was a pro-bowl-in-waiting center. I said he was barely above-average.
God bless this regime for seeing the truth---we need a for-real center. I hope Johnson is the answer for the rest of the season--& I'm not a hater--I think Satele may have a bright future at guard (quickness, agility & etc.). But he ain't no dominant center.

Apologies accepted.

I'm by n means an expert, that's especially true regarding the Oline, but, from what I've seen Satele seems to be better in space and not so much at the POA. I can recall him being pushed into the QB more than a few times...Then again, I've seen Long bulled over quite a few times as well...

I say it would be more beneficial if we get something out of Beck that will help us next year to fill some of our holes.

Interesting to see what will happen with Houshmanzadeh at the end of this year, the bengals may slap a franchise tag on him, i would love to get him in Miami, he would be perfect in our system, that all we would need at WR, and then we can focus on the draft with other positions like DE, def backs, a guard, and LBs

Pennington and Housh would light it up with Ginn, bess,and Camirillo.

Well if the Fins do want to make the OL stronger this is the yr to do it. This yrs draft is very deep at OT CEN and OG.

Nathan Dodsworth, What Players rushed for 200 yds in a game for the phins?

Next years draft should be Terrance Cody if he`s avalable as Ferguson is getting old and has had an injury or two. Then a corner and a linebacker in the second round. Offence in the third with a large wide reciever and o-line (guard or center) in the fourth. We are also going to have to either franchise Carrey or pay him.
Solidify what we`ve started and we`ll keep winning even with next years tougher schedule.

Hallelujah it's about time! Ever since they signed Johnson I have been hoping he would take over at the center position and watching Satele the last two weeks just confirmed my belief that he would be better suited at guard. He will be able to pull better and won't have to think about line calls which I believe is what is hurting his technique. I LOVE THIS MOVE! Also I think it's about time the south Florida media starts giving credit to the ENTIRE coaching staff (not just Parcells) for this turn around. Mando said the record boggles the mind because when you look at this team on paper you say 'no way'. That shows you what a terrific job the coaching staff has done with these players particularly Sparano. Also tons of credit to Penny and Peazy who bring the on the field presence that the team needs.

Jason, just say no to j.taylor return to the phins, old twinkle toes "wanted to play for a contender" will watch what you wish for... i find it funny and a little like poetic justice. and that goes for his brother in law too.

I was reading somewhere that Sparano really DOES want Johnson to take over the duties at cetner full-time (or at least until camp next year), but Johnson is just not healthy enough to play a full game yet. Since we need to pound the rock at KC this week, don't be surprised if you see Johnson getting 5-10 more snaps than last week. Let's keep Satele around for a while. I think he could make a very solid right guard, especially when he needs to pull.

"I know this team has a lot of needs, but I would love them to pick an offensive lineman with one of their 1st 3 picks next year. This is a very good draft for offensive tackles and centers."

OL would be nice, but if the draft was to today I'd still do with WR, CB and the Nose (sorry, I ain't betting the future on a guy who has been suspended twice this year just cause he a good game or two).

But that leaves out who we resign and who we bring in....last I checked we have a good cap situation.

The thing is about Satele.. he's not a bullish OL but uses his athletic ability and hands.

Add that into the AFC East where we face all 3 opponents who run a 30 front and have a big NT that he seems to struggle with.

Either we keep him and he backs up at Guard behind Thomas and Smiley..and Centre. Again, lets not forget the phrase of the season. "Roster Flexibility". Or.. he is traded for a low round pick to a team that runs the Zone and needs athletic OL with quick feet and hands..

Just a thought. Id rather keep him due to experience in the system and the fact that he can do a job.

Whatever works, do it. It's about balance and the Dolphins haven't had it in the passing or running game week in and week out. It's still a weak area that will be addressed at the end of the season through the draft or free agency. Right now it's about just getting it done for two more weeks and maybe a playoff game or two. Nine wins is more than I expected and the Phins have made this fan very proud. They've played well and earned to be where they are. Great effort gentlemen.

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