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The truth about Miami's interior offensive line

Unlike most weeks during this Dolphins season when neither you, nor I, nor the Dolphins, can chew on one game for days and days after it is history, Sunday's playoff game against Baltimore is still on my mind. It is also on the NFL Network, which replayed the game much of Wednesday.

So I watched. And watched. And watched again.

And the result, inexplicably, never improved.

But one thing did become clear as I studied what happened in this defeat. Yes, the Dolphins turned the ball over five times. Yes, Chad Pennington had his worst game of the season. Yes, the defense gave up a long Ravens clinching drive in the final five minutes.

But this game was really, truly decided at the line of scrimmage where the interior of the Ravens defensive line and blitzing linebackers dominated Dolphins center Samson Satele, left guard Andy Alleman, and right guard Ikechuku Ndukwe. The score Sunday was 27-9. It was much, much, much worse than that if one judges the play of Miami's interior line.

Here is the truth of what happened:

Miami's offensive tackles didn't play great nor horribly. Left tackle Jake Long yielded a sack to Terrell Suggs while Vernon Carey gave up one to Trevor Pryce. But both tackles were responsible for man-blocking on all but a handful of pass plays. They were both 1-on-1 with pretty good rushers all game and did well on all but two plays.

So that wasn't an issue.

The interior of the line was a different, terrible story.

On one Ronnie Brown run to the left, Baltimore nose tackle Haloti Ngata picks Ndukwe up, tosses him about two feet to the left and Ndukwe lands where the hole on the left side is supposed to be. Brown actually goes head over heels over Ndukwe and then Ngata finishes him off. It looked like Brown got jacked up by a Ngata on TV and that he got right back up in defiance. But the slow motion shows Brown simply having his legs cut out from under him by Ndukwe's rag doll impersonation.

I have never seen anything like that in such tight space.

The Ravens blitzed a lot on Sunday. And the Dolphins could not figure out how to stop it. On one play, Ray Lewis blitzed between Satele and Ndukewe and neither one blocked him. He was there. And, zip, he was past and into the Miami backfield. It didn't result in a sack, but it led to an incomplete pass.

On Pennington's interception to start the second half, the Ravens rushed four. Long and Carey handled their assignments one-on-one. But Miami's interior trio cannot block Ngata and Pryce. Ndukwe and Satele double team Ngata while Alleman blocks Pryce. Except that Ngata beats both Ndukwe and Satele. So Alleman peels off Pryce to pick up the charging nose tackle. That leaves Pryce free to force Chad Pennington into throwing the football. He happened to throw it into a swarm of three defensive backs, but that is beside the point. The point is three Miami linemen are beaten by two Ravens defensive linemen.

That was bad, but it wasn't ridiculous. This was ridiculous: With the score 20-9 and the Dolphins at the Baltimore 25 yard line everything collapses for the Dolphins. On a second-and-seven, the wheels came off the cart. Dan Henning called a Ted Ginn end around at the same time the Ravens called for a blitz. The end around was set up with the Dolphins using an unbalanced line to the right side with Long outside of Carey.

That left tight end Anthony Fasano on the left side, with Alleman inside of him, and then Satele, then Ndukwe, then Carey and Long. Fasano got a block. Alleman pulled right, and that leaves Satele and Ndukwe doing their impersonation of swinging gates while a horde of Baltimore defenders poured through. Three Ravens were in the backfield as Ginn didn't seem to want took the handoff and fumbled it.

That 19-yard loss killed Miami's momentum and pretty much sealed the loss.

"We had favorable matchups and we took advantage of them," Pryce said. "It's quite simple."

So here is the deal: The Dolphins should, must address the interior of their offensive line this offseason. They cannot compete with elite defenses with this starting group. I realize neither Alleman nor Ndukwe were slated to be starters in 2008 but that doesn't change the need to upgrade there in 2009.

Obviously Donald Thomas is supposed to come back in 2009 after missing all but two quarters in 2008. And Justin Smiley is also supposed to return. But both are hopes. The Dolphins hope Thomas, a rookie last year, can live up to his potential and not be an injury-prone guy. The Dolphins hope Smiley, who has finished each of the past two seasons on the injured reserve list, is not an injury-prone guy. Smiley, by the way, is having another shoulder procedure this offseason.

I believe the Dolphins must add at least one starting caliber guard to hedge their bet. See how the Shawn Murphy pick is starting to hurt?

The Dolphins also need a starting center. There. I said it. Satele is not a starting center, in my opinion. He isn't very physical, he doesn't really move anyone in the running game, and on pass plays, I often see him with his back to the defense, chasing the on-rushing defender that just whipped him as the defender makes a target out of Miami's QB.

I am officially debunking the myth that Satele is a good player. He wasn't that against Baltimore, and I've seen him struggle too often during the regular season to believe he's any better than average -- maybe not even that. Satele is a guy you want as a backup center-guard, a swing guy. When he assumes that role, you'll know the Miami offensive line has upgraded.

Anyway, if you forgot what the debacle along the interior of Miami's offensive line looked like Sunday, watch the video. Make your own decision.


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HP in PA.....Can Not Read All That Writing Looks Like Math Book.We Should Draft First 2 Wr.
By rokxxxxx

"seem to me armando telling us what to write and what we should not write.what kind of blog is this."
findolph4 life

A private one.

What is with your hate for Ted Ginn?? Did he not want to interview with you one time or something?

Good Point Pat.Right On Target.


Sorry, Mando, you can delete my previous post, too. Thanks for doing the weeding.

I still say our DL is in more need of help. I can't judge the need for OL upgrades, because I don't know how comfortable Parcells/Sparano are with Smiley and Thomas coming back.

It will be a fun FA and draft to watch. I know with this management I don't have to brace myself.

We need to beef up both lines Thomas is not proven so we cant really say if he is good or not.Looking at this situation with our o-line can we really replace Carey through the draft or in free agency when we may have to look for a center and another gaurd not to mention a nt,de,lb,and cb.I think even though Vernon has not been what we expected he is a solid player at that.Also our d-line does not create any kind of pressure we really need to grab Peppers or a big guy in the draft within our first 3 picks.I agree with you take on Samson Mando 100% he looked pretty good last season but this year he just looked confused and a bit on the small side too we need some huge guys up there.

Nice topic Mando,I feel as long as D. Thomas and Smiley come back healthy we'll be fine. I like satele but we do need an upgrade at center. He would be a great back up.maybe alex mack from cal would fall to us. Terrence cody is too much of a fat ass and is not nearly as atheletic as you would want at NT.

Fortunately this years draft is deep at Ol and also pass rushing LBs. I don't think Crowder fits as a 3-4 LB. The Fins can improve big time with a good 09 draft.

Armando,  would you put any stock into that the Ravens D Just came in with a better game plan and that the Phins Offesive game plan did not stand up to what the ravens were doing?  And also it seems the Phins didn't make proper adjustments to pick up the blitz or expose the blitz?  It seems to me they just kind of stuck to there game plan.  Also am I the only one that wished the Phins would have taken Ngatta 3 yrs ago? I was posting like mad back then trying to stir his name up.

Because we're in the off-season, and nothing really matters if the Dolphins are no longer playing, it's time for the following:

My Sports Heroes:
1) Bobby Orr
2) Paul Warfield
3) Jackie Robinson
4) Dan Marino
5) Armando Salguero

My Sports Villains:
1) Nick Saban
2) Sammie Smith
3) Armando Salguero
4) Billy Smith

My Favorite Movie/Television Chicks:
1) Jaclyn Smith
2) Audrey Hepburn
3) Sophia Loren
4) Veronica Hamel

My Favorite Authors:
1) Mark Twain
2) Ernest Hemingway
3) Charles Dickens
4) George Orwell

My Favorite Positions:
1) Woman on Top
2) Woman on Top
3) Woman on Top
4) Doggie style, followed by Woman on Top

My Favorite TV Shows:
1) Family Guy
2) The Sopranos
3) All In The Family
4) Seinfeld

My Favorite Actors:
1) Jimmy Stewart
2) Spencer Tracy
3) Armando Salguero

Great Artists Whose Politics Are Morally and Intellectually Indefensible:
1) Vanessa Redgrave
2) Sean Penn

Brilliant Politicians who for a Variety of Reasons Never Achieved All They Should have Achieved:
1) Newt Gingrich
2) Armando Salguero

Things That Really Annoy Me:
1) Having to defecate right after getting all clean in the shower
2) Jim Mandich screaming "ALRIGHT!"
3) Liberals who behave like the fascists they continually decry.
4) People who add cheese to everything.
5) Women who think it's better to look anorexic than to look like Sophia Loren.

Things That Really Please Me:
1) Audrey Hepburn's accent.
2) A Miami Dolphins touchdown.
3) Flannel and corduroy.
4) Asking my wife to marry me when we simultaneously experience ecstasy.
5) Getting under Armando Salguero's skin.

Things I Bet You Didn't Know About Me:
1) I'm a Gemini.
2) I haven't missed a Dolphins game on television, when shown in whatever market I was living in, since the Dolphins tied the Jets 28-28 in game 5 of the 1981 season.
3) I regret that I was never able to give Ronald Reagan a hug and thank him for all he did for America.
4) Every 3 years, I make a football/baseball stadium out of Lego.
5) My success rate in keeping flatulence silent is 95%.

(More to come)

Good for you, Mando--

I was one of the few who dared criticize Satele last year, as average at best & loved by the posters only cuz the rest of CamMueeler's pick stunk, and was unmercifully ripped by other posters.

The O-line MUST be upgraded; all else will follow.

Duper: Nick Saban tried to trade up to get Ngata but couldn't do it. He loved the guy.

The Miami game plan wasn't bad in that it failed to account for Baltimore blitzes. I would expect someone to pick up Ray Lewis before he runs between two unoccupied Olinemen. I imagine Miami coaches had the same expectation.

By the way, Ronnie Brown is getting a bad rap on this blog for his game. That TD catch was awesome and he was running hard. He showed fight and he had a couple of moments where he caught the ball and plowed through Baltimore tacklers for extra yards. He was not the problem.

it's time to move satele to G or at least demote him if he really is missing calls at the line, that's as important as th block itself.
He got room 4 improvment

Hey Armando,

A little off topic but what do you think of the Dolphins going after the newly released Pacman Jones? I think you'll be a good asset on the field and he'll give Ginn a break from kick returns, making him develop as more of a receiver

On Pacman, I mean, Adam Jones: It will NEVER happen as long as Bill Parcells is running things.


We just drafted 2 DE's that look promising, Langford and Merling. I agree that we need a NT to groom for the future; we lived on borrowed time hoping Ferguson stayed healthy last year. We cannot take that gamble again. Did anyone notice Flacco only completed 9 passes? They had a fair amount of pressure on him all game. One thing I noticed in the last 2 games is Miami playing stout defense on 1st and 2nd downs only 2 give up the intermediate pass on 3rd down for a 1st. Who is to blame for this? Poor LB coverage in the flat? Bad nickle back? I'm not sure myself.

I think we draft a NT in the first round, followed by a G and a WR or CB. Of course it is hard to ascertain needs before free agency has passed as many things can happen. Baltimore's DL played a great game as did Reed. Their offense really didnt look that effective against the fins. There were so many improbably sloppy moments on the side of the fins that the game felt flukish at times. I think improved play on the lines could create more opportunities. Cmon, 13 turnovers all year and 5 in one game? Let's not overhaul the whole team based upon one bad showing. Did we fire the whole secondary after the Cardinals game? That was one atrocious showing as well. The improbable loss to the Texans due to the secondary? No most of you would claim the secondary as relatively strong. Why skewer the OL, with 2 backups playing, over one game?


I sure hope the Dolphins brass are as smart as Armando and not question if Pennington is a championship quality quarterback!

mrs. mcnabb we got samson satele with the 2nd round pick in the welker trade with n.e.we got chad henne with the 2nd round pick with s.d.check your facts before you ramble on

I Am Sure Chad Pennington Is a Championship Quality Qb 4 The Interception League.
By Monalisa

dol-phans check out the mock draft on foxsports.com it a good one.miami with the 26th pick selects nt-b.j.raji.

hey monalisa AKA JETS fan how's your washed up qb been doing 3 int's against mia for the afc east you loser aka cuban menace

Nice postmortem Armando… I absolutely agree, the interior line did not hold up against more physical defensive fronts. We talk about Ryan Clady being a great fit in the Denver scheme; the opposite is true with Satele. He doesn’t fit the Sparano system and will probably be traded or let go. The two guards were not even on the roster when the season began. This is where the lack of depth caught up with the Dolphins.

I do think we got outcoached somewhat in this game. The Ravens were determined to stop the run between the tackles and keep everything in front of them in the deep secondary. The holes in this defense were the short routes and the wheel routes as evidenced by the plays to Cobb. It was not all on the coaches because the WRs did not adjust to the blitz and left Pennington hanging. But we should have patiently worked the short routes until they had to commit the linebackers into outside coverage.

Even though this was a great season and I wouldn’t take it back for anything it did hurt us in the draft. I still believe the team is two more drafts away and another high pick would have been very nice this year. It’s more important now that Ireland and Parcells get the personnel decisions right because they won’t have the luxury of the 1st pick in the draft. The tranches should still be the focus until there are good starters across the lines and adequate back-ups behind them.

Definitely must upgrade at center. I'm pretty comfortable with smiley and thomas returning at full strength next year but we need a more intelligent and more physical presence at center. I think Mack or Unger could be taken in the 2nd round. We also need a more stout NT like Ngata. An effective 3-4 defense depends on that position. As for further upgrades we need to either get a athletic, pass rushing OLB or playmaking, ball-hawking free safety. I'd like Taylor Mays(USC)if he comes out early. On offense, we should be able to get a playmaking WR in later rounds.

mia beat you choker jets for the afc east after being 1-15 get over it your team suks

Jake Long didnt allow a sack,,, Terrell Suggs went on a stunt

As for comments on the playoff game, as much as Pennington chose the wrong day to have his worst outing, I also blame the offensive play calling for the defeat. The defense was playing good and you have to have the mindset that you need to play it close to the vest and think 13-10 type of win. We should have been content with 3-3 at halftime. I would've loved to see how Flacco handled the pressure in the 4th quarter when maybe had would've had to try to win the game. By keeping the game close we could've stuck to the run game even if it was getting stuffed. Run, controlled passing game and finding a way to win in the 4th quarter was our trademark all year and we got away from that. Ultimately that's what cost them the game. Still a great year and looking forward to 2009!

Go Fins;Your Qb Had 4 Interceptions.Jet's Qb Had Only 3.So You Win a Tripe To Goofy disney.
By Monalisa

The Miami Dolphins have hired one of the best talent evaluators in the league along with his people. AND the first pick in the 2009 NFL draft for the Miami Dolphins is: A defensive nose tackel, an offensive lineman, a shutdown corner. Picks of the past at these positions are J. Allen and V. Carey. Will Vernon Carey, Channing Crowder, Y. Bell, R.Hill be resigned? I see V Carey and Y Bell returning, Adios to the rest. Bell and Carey have earned it, Crowder's demands will be too high, Hill is 50/50 and the draft will determine his fate if in the first two rounds if there is a gotta have defensive back available to the Dolphins goodbye Hill. I do believe in the first 3 rounds we draft a WR, goodbye Wilford. Satele could get moved to a guard position and put on notice with the first or second pick in the draft. QB, OT, RB, Miami will pass over with the first 4 picks, (depending on V.Carey signing). 3 lineman and a DB or WR with the first 4 picks. No splashy premadonna Free Agents just blue collar special team dual role players in the Free Agent market, T.O., Pacmnan,and Chad Johnson will not be Dolphins. I believe it will be boring but a fruitful off-season. FFF finfanforever SteFin. ps This is my first post since the Baltimore loss, I've finally come out of the fetal position, and realized moving foward will be about the last game we played not the regular season but the Post Season.

We need to resign Bell, Crowder, Goodman and Carey. They definitely contributed to the team's success and deserve to be kept around. Keep the core together and upgrade at free safety, OLB, NT, WR and center. Have faith in Parcells, Sparano and Ireland to find the talent to take the team to the next level.

hey idiot mia qb won the division ,jet qb won retirement

Good post Armando! Good insight on "King Carl", I fell your journalism alone forced his hand.

In my previous post I left Andre Goodman in his Free Agent year. I do belive he'll be resigned he's earned it.

Armando, what's wrong with a nice spicy meatball?

hey moron speak english or can you say e-bonics 'iterception","red " "honer" what are you in pre-school

by the way afc east champs baby jets 3rd place also i remember your qb throwing 6 ints in a playoff game for gb .who's your qb now k . clemons ahahahahahahahahahahahahahah can you say last place?

go down of your level ahahahaha you are retarted

typical jets fan, uneducated retard.

23 ints leads league=3 ints to lose afc east to phins =retirement = last place =retarded loser


Only FA that I'd like to see Miami go after would be TJ Houshmanzadeh. Physical WR who can also stretch the field. If the price isn't too high. Otherwise the draft is the way to continue to go.

Just looked up Herman Johnson
POSITION: Offensive Line
CLASS: Senior

He looks like a monster.

btw...Armando, please no more videos like this around lunch...heh heh, I'm going to need to go find some tums now.

satele is not the answer at center

satele is not the answer at center

the tackles are fine but the guards & center stink

Luis: Terrell Suggs was Jake Long's guy on that play in question. It wasn't a stunt. He simply redirected. Suggs was still Long's guy.

And if you do not take my word for it, maybe you'll believe Tony Sparano, who said, "Jake Long really had a good game out there yesterday. He gave up one (sack) yesterday on a twist, but other than that, I think the guy played really a good game."

BTW: I would not count on the Dolphins going after TJ Whoseyourmama. He is 32 years old. Not what the Dolphins are looking for.

Patrick: Excellent post!

Your Damn right Mando nobody should be calling out Ronnie.Look he was Chads only reliable receving option,our line was getting bullied and created no holes whatsoever and if there was a hole that got pluged up quick by a Ravans linebacker.Brown got some tuff yards and ran hard this guys not a miracle worker.But any Mando I would really like to see whom you think we will draft in 09 or who you think we will go after in free agency.Mcgay from espn has us taking Brandon Spikes but I like Cushing better what do you think?

Nice article!!! Confirms what I think we all were suspecting. We need a starting center and another guard before WR. We HAVE to be able to establish the run before anything else will work. T Martin.........I believe that during the play you are referring to, Reed's return TD, Ted Ginn got CLOCKED by someone just as he was getting to Reed. It was a massive hit.

All that money we gave Wilford could have been used to sign Faneca. It may be the most damaging decision this regime made. This offseason will be MUCH tougher than last year. They cannot afford any errors in judgement.


Yeah Ernest sure didnt go to camp this year.
I hope and would cream myself if we got Boldin through a trade alot of people are saying to go after TJ and hey he is better than what we got but is he the physical type of receiver that we really need?

I know I'm chiming in late, but, I've been on Satele's case for most of the season. He got blown up several times! I did notice him making a lot of plays blocking downfield, but, he was abused on the line often...The other backups should not surprise anyone. They are backups on a team a yr removed from 1-15...
With that said Penny still deserves plenty of blame. Steelers have had a terrible line this yr and they're still in it...Big Ben obviously has overcome that...Ginn haters are ridiculous...He was absolutely DESTROYED on that INT return...He had a streak of catches in the 4th but was over-under thrown all day...

no the biggest steal was vernon gholston .he should of made the pro-bowl 12 tkls o sacks 0 ints 6 inactives .oh i meant the toilit bowl just like the jets

The Dolphins will not splash for a wide receiver. Get over it. This regime wins with ultra talented defenses. Offense was not the problem all year and of course their interior line got beat. We all knew that they were very thin on the OL from day one and couldn't afford any injuries. They suffered two and still won the division. That is nothing short of a miracle.

CB (for nickel)

These are the most pressing needs, not WR - their receivers and tight ends had plenty production in '08 and promise to get better in '09

Armando, a lot of fans seem to look for something negative about every player on the team. It's as if not one player does anything well and everyone has to be replaced. I don't get it but it never ends.

no thing wrong to talk about nice spicy meatball'
by jet gorge

I think people forget that Miami were missing 2 key Guards going into the game against Baltimore.When Smiley and Thomas return,most problems are solved. For all the people suggesting WR is'nt a priority in this years draft,please get real. Camarillo is a good no 2 and Bess looks good as a slot receiver but Ginn wont turn into a solid,consistant no 1 and Wilford will be gone.Also,the stats dont lie.....Miami were 25th against the pass so more help in the secondary is a must. With the 1st and 2 2nd round picks the Dolphins MUST pick (In no particular order) WR,FS,CB

Mando, I love Ronnie Brown because of his great attitude and athletic ability. But do you ever get the feeling he has tunnel vision on some plays? This offense is starving for a playmaker!!!

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