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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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We can get a wide out in the 3rd round we dont need to use our 1st and 2nd rounders on one because we have more major areas of concern like our secondary(you stated that)our dline,linebacker and o-line.But I said it before and Ill say it again what we do in free agency will have an impact on what we draft if we get Ashumuga then we will draft a corner in rounds 4 on,so you never know but I do agree we need a WR but not with the first two picks unless his name is Michael Crabtree.


I agree with Mark at 5:15. This team need more help at defense. The most urgence is help at CB and LB´rs. Remember just Joey Porter at LB make the diference, noboby else come to change the games. Joey Porter need more help. We need another great draft at defense like this year. Chaning Crowder sometimes look strong but sometimes he lost in the games. Matt Roth has some shining moments, but not much, Adyoleye, I didn´t se him. Remember the TD of Flacco, where are de LB coverage?? We lost at least 2 games with the same QB draw.

I have some desagree with Mark, we need WR update. Ok, Devon Bess has a lot of catches, Ted Gin make an uppgrade last 3 games, but who else. Brandon London, has a nice game at special teams. Remember that the dolphis were thin at 3rd a long (more than 7 yards).

And We need to get more depth on OL. Get one or two guards at the draft or FA.

This Year draft is very impórtant the late picks at draft. We need a lot of Depth at LB, CB, OL.

"Secondly, another genius said the other day I ripped Pennington. Really? I asked the posters a question -- a fair one at that. I wanted opinion, I started a discussion, and so I'm ripping the guy? Please graduate kindergarten before you come on here again.
Mando, I believe I'm that genius. i looked over your post again and you were right, all you did was ask a question. i guess i was still boiling over from the loss. my bad.

DC: NO worries. I should have gotten my point across differently. But one of my greatest frustrations on here is when folks say I said things I did not say. My apologies to you for being harsh.

Wow Armando...I'm quite impressed that you addressed a relevant issue that needs immediate attention regardless of how obvious it is to me and I would hope 99% of Dolphin fans versus Ricky thinking about smoking a joint,I've been pot free for 6 years but I think about it at times but that doesn't mean Im going to give in to it and risk my career over a mere THOUGHT,or IF Penni can win the big one.

This may just remove you from the "casual viewer" list.

Why does everyone expect Ginn to be a #1 WR? He's not built for the part. I thought he was drafted to be an explosive player as a return man and develop as a deep threat WR.

its funny how everyone talks about ted ginn running out of bounds every play. watch the colts play. at least ted gets yards after the catch, or tries to. Reggie Wayne runs out of bounds with dbs 5yrds away from him. and hes a PRO BOWL WR who everyone loves. your idiots. and your haters. and your not true dolphins fans. ted is in his 2nd season. hes never had a qb who could play to his strength, which happens to be his 4.25 speed. so why dont you stop pretending that you know anything about this team, because you obviously dont pay attention. oh and on the ed reed int, Ginn was running down field to make the play when HALOTI NGATA CRUSHED HIM. id like to see you idiots take that hit and still be able to make the catches Ginn did at the end of the game

POSTED BY monalisa and me

What I do not understand is why everyone defends Ted Ginn. He is a soft speed guy that should have been a late 2nd to 3rd round pick. If you want to see how a receiver that truly wants to play and be on the field giving his all, watch Brandon London. He knows where the first down marker is and will take a hit to get the 1st instead of going down early or walking out of bounds one yard shy. He knows that bc a year ago he was released from the Giants and is fighting for P.T. Sit Ginn a game and not start him, make him hungry. Yes I know he needs to protect his body but a true #1 receiver on a team will go after the ball make those plays that he missed, and take a shot when needed. Even Chad Johnson will take a hit on occasion. Sorry I had to get that out of my system. I played football in college for the 49's d-line coach Jim Tomsula and he taught me how a d and o-line needs to a be a mean SOB. I do not think that the interior three are that. We need a few big mean hungry guys that will go in and blow people up and let the ambulances come in to seperate all the body parts later.

You get some real winners on this blog, Armando. : )

PAPhinPhan, it's funny how so many fans bash Ginn yet he leads the team in receptions, receiving yards and yards per catch for the WRs. But he's not doing anything. He never makes a catch and he never makes a big play. I guess I didn't see the plays that I thought I saw him make. No Ginn didn't improve at all this year. LOL

armando u are a joke....this team went from a one win team to a playoff team...how do u figure ure reasoning.....

hey retard i thought i asked you to speak english

"you 6-9 next year team" i thought i told you to speak english retard,also there are 16 games moron

So can we go ahead & get Wes Welker back for satele? LOL. He just got pushed around by big nose guards. Not sure he will work out. If I remember correctly, Parcells named like 3 or 4 players as the only players he had worth anything when they hired him. I believe Satele was one of the players he named. Also, his first big free agent signing was Wilford.

Just a note on the Parcells thing. I know he could take his money he was paid for 4 years & walk away, but I sort of dare him. Don't you???? Your going to take money you were paid for for 4 years, & because of a weird line in a contract your going to leave after one year. I kind of hope he takes the Detriot job & a little thing called Karma sets in. I would kind of be scared if I were him. Things have a way of coming back to you. If he left, I think every draft pick, free agent he picked up, would be jinxed. Just a thought, agree???

As far as draft picks, I think that is easy. If you look through the league. The best teams stop the run. You must do that first. Our #1 pick should be a dominate nose tackle. You can get a nice offense guard later in the draft, & pick up a young corner & wideout with each of our 2nd round picks. But, you have to pick up a nose guard to blow up every run at us, Agree? just sign in free agency or draft a linebacker later in the draft to clean up what the nose guard has destroyed.

Steve, Sparano who is a former OL coach and loves line play always thought of Satele as a guard but they didn't have another center. Satele will probably compete at LG next year with Smiley coming off of a leg and shoulder injury. At worst he'll be a backup G/C.

Thomas goes back to RG, Al Johnson gets a crack at C and maybe we bring in a new C from free agency or the draft. I think we'll draft an OT at some point. Sparano always talks about tackles being hard to find. We have little depth at tackle and who knows if we re-sign Carey.

We need to add 2 or 3 good offensive linemen even with Smiley and Thomas possibly being ready for camp. Both guys went down for the season. The rest of our depth are castoffs and undrafted guys. Not good enough.

Here is the thing about Ginn. There are people out there who still Jack off to Brady Quinn and not having him. There are these people out there, similar to (if not the same people) who did the same thing to Ronnie Brown. Regardless of what Brown did or flashed in the past. What is it now, year 4 and Brown is finally getting the widespread love that he deserved before. it is amazing to me that people get on here and ignore the good stuff that the kid does do. He can go out and do an end around breaking tackles and they will say he avoids contact. He can go up, come down with the ball and get popped (knowing he is going to get popped) and people will say he is afraid to take the big hit. He will come back, while being double covered, adjust and jump to fight for the ball between 2 defenders and people will say he has no heart and doesn't fight for the ball. He won't go across the middle when he has caught numerous passes across the middle. They will even say he does things like not stretch out for a pass and tip the ball causing an interception when CLEARLY...in the video above (and I didn't even need to see it again cuz I caught it the first time)...he stretches out..Mind you while going accross the middle...with the ball NEVER touching his hands...because it is OVERTHROWN (but no, it his alligator arms). AMAZING!!! So why even debate with someone like that? It's similar to talking to ARAWAK or HOWBOUTDEMJETS...Pointless. To all of you that try bringing up great points about other "great" receivers who run out of bounds or whatever examples you have...these people hate this kid. He can become an all pro and they will still find a reason to hate him.

Honestly i think all we need is a stud DT like Albert Haynesworth.Next i would resign Vernon Carey & move inside to gaurd where he used to play & draft another stud tackle like Oklahoma's Phil Loadholt. Draft a stud #1 WR like Kenny Britt from Rutgers with one of our 2nd rnd picks. Then add other pieces in FA OR DRAFT by getting a center,guard,linebacker,db&safties. Finally we will be bigger,stronger, and faster.


drsamii that just brings up my other point. they really arent fans of the team. they're the people who hid last year when the team was 1-15. they watch one game, and think they understand everything there is to know about the team. its just annoying because no one notices how ted ginn IS improving.

Well...we notice it. I stopped getting annoyed once I saw it for what it is. I'm sure the coaches notice it too which is why he was out there on the field and not sitting with Ernest Wilford.

There's no cryin in blogs Mando

Look, i never respond to these posts...but this time?

Mando, I watched that YouTube clip (and died a little inside). But it's like you & i were watching two different things. It showed 9 big defensive plays by the Ravens (and the blocked kick, which is a whole different animal). On at least 5 of them, the interior line play was not the problem. On three of them, definitely (although the Ginn reverse was such a WTF-blowup i can't fault just those 3 linemen). 1 might've become a problem, but Chad threw so quickly you can't say he was threatened by anyone.

Yes, we need to improve all our line play (w/the exception of LT Long). And yes, there was more to that game than those big plays. And yes the Ngata/Ndukwe play was embarrassing to us all. But your "evidence" doesn't stack up.

The fault lies not in our stars (or our linemen), but in our selves. And in a vicious Ravens D.


Uh, Dude! Where have you been for the regular season? Did you suddenly brain gas expel your memory? Miami didn't lose anywhere near the man games to IR that they lost in 07, BUT! They did lose BOTH starting guards FOR THE SEASON to IR. It is not quite time to press the panic button. The Phins were playing vs. arguably the best D in all of football, (maybe ever for a decade). Plus the fact that they really don't have a superstar WR yet. Using journeyman guards at best, what did you expect? All things considered, they deserve much more credit than you are giving them. Remember, this team staged the greatest turnaround in NFL history. Yeah, I know Indy did a 10er in 99 but that team was not nearly as bad as Miami was last year, and THEY had Peyton (the ripoff of all time MVP in 08) Manning in the Genesis of his career, while Miami was teaching a capable, but aging Chad Pennington. In my humble opinion, that qualifies by a large margin, the Phins as the most amazing about face in NFL history. Which makes perfect sense since they also were the Greatest TEAM in SPORTS history in 72-73, they played in the longest, (and even better than the Giants-Colts of the 50's) game in NFL history vs K.C. in 71 Christmas day, and the quite possibly 2 OTHER greatest games in history vs San Diego in 80, and Oakland in 76. So spare us, your, and our, and the Dolphins, all this blathering, get over yourself and start supporting the Phish to win it all in 09-10. OK? OK! Frankly, FrankLeeScarlett

Hey 'go phins', who are you to tell anyone to shut up or speak-a-d- english? Why don yew shut up yore face? Goodness to Betsy what an arrogant snob YOU are. Get off yourself and puck off you MOW-RON! Whoa, talk about a HIGH opinion of oneself, and how foolish you make yourself look. I'd be extremely embarrassed if I were you, or even if I KNEW you. You are what I like to call a word they won't allow s p u z z, either that or a Patriots fan. go find a life dip wad. You are terminated!

I agree with you Armando but want to add that one of major concerns is whether the team should resign Vernon Carey. I don't think he's played at a level where he deserves his asking price. He plays at a decent level but will not be a high or Pro Bowl level OT.

The next question is what are the upgrading options. The Jets may have gotten a good season from Alan Faneca but those kind of signings are not long-term answers. Justin Smiley is young, solid, and has more upside if he can only stay healthy.

I would continue to mostly build the OL from the draft. We got the sure thing with Jake Long. Sometimes you'll find a late first round gem like what the Broncos got with Ryan Clady, a second-rounder that the Chargers got in 2006 with Marcus McNeil, or what we may have with a sixth rounder like Donald Thomas if he stays healthy.

The team badly needs help with the OL, WR's, LB's, and the secondary factoring into consideration that we won't be able to sign all the players who are becoming UFA's.

The Ravens did remind us that the rebuilding process for the Dolphins is long from over. I'm grateful for the progress made so far but it wouldn't be wise to be running Dolphin smack so fast even though the season went well. The team learned to win despite a lot of weaknesses but they were tested more by the improved mental toughness more than the competition they drew this year from the AFC West and NFC West. In 2009, the competition will be tougher with the NFC South and AFC South teams.

Ginn never even looked back for the ball on the pass that Reed returned for the TD. He just ran up field and continued to run without looking back until he falls as the ball gets there. He also had a false start and dropped that reverse which if we score on that drive, we probably win the game. Let's face it, he's getting outplayed by Camarillo and Bess! It's arguable wither or not he is even better than London! He's a bust, let's cut our losses and move on.

Ok, my analysis of the 4 INTs...

INT #1 Ginn was running back for the ball as Pennington threw it. If Ginn stays and waits for the ball it's a completion but since he comes back, which he is supposed to do, the ball is high and goes through his hands and gets picked off. Not really Ginn's fault, not really Chad's fault.

INT #2 Ginn never looks back for the ball and never makes a play on the ball after it leaves Chad's hand. It wasn't a good pass on Chad's part, but if Ginn turns around and looks for the ball, he may have been able to make a play on the ball and it could have been a completion, a break up or at worst he tackles Reed and prevents the TD.

INT #3 Chad basically throws into triple coverage. Bad decision on Chad's part, totally his fault.

INT #4 Chad doesn't see Reed break for the ball and throws a costly INT. This was a great play on Reed's part. If Chad recognizes Reed coming across the field he has a couple other targets that he could have gotten the ball to. Chad should have been more patient, but after being hit so often he probably didn't have a lot of faith in the line at this point.

Overall, I know it sounds like I am defending Chad. Make no mistake, this was Chad's worst game and he was not nearly as accurate as he usually is, but this was a great defense they were playing and they deserve all the credit for shutting down the run, putting pressure on Chad and being opportunistic when it came to turnovers.

FLS could have included the '74 playoff loss to the Raiders in his list of greatest all time games.If Stabler doesnt complete that fourth down no time left TD pass we probably would have gone on to win our third straight SB.

Two words: Matt, Birk.

Unless there's some one better out there I'm unaware of the Fish MUST go after him should Minni let him walk.

Mando, don't sweat it. you weren't that harsh. plus, thanks to your comments I'm just one finger painting away from graduating kindergarten.
GO PHINS!!(next year)

The Ginn bashing is silly. This was a game of line play, whereas we had none of it, and they had a lot of it.


For your information:

Well does this mean you're done blaming Pennington and assuming he's not a playoff caliber quarterback because he threw interceptions in that game?
Comparing him to Fiedler was pretty asinine IMO.

It's pretty obvious that injuries and lack of depth to our O-line and receiving corps are what killed us last week.

I can not believe you are blaming this on the offensive line.... how about Ronnie Brown dancing and trying to juke players in the backfield all year long, and all he does is allow the defense to close in on him. We need a straight down field runner... just look at all the great backs in the league. I'm not saying we have the best offensive line in the NFL but by far in all 16 games they did a hell of a job. We played a much better team and played probably the worst game of the year as a team but it was not only the offensive line.... our receivers CAN NOT get open, we need posession receivers... 5'8 5'10 receivers do not do well in the NFL for the most part..... again look at all the better receivers and they are all 6'0" plus 200lbs or more....
On the other side of the ball and this was a problem all year long.... WE NEED PASS RUSH!!! that simple.... giving any quarterback 5 or 6 seconds to throw a pass is un-acceptable and thus the loss to a rookie QB..... lines win games... but I'd take a DT over any offensive lineman in the draft or free agency.

Few probably remember that in the 2007 draft Carolina drafted Center Ryan Kalil out of USC with the 59th pick in the second round. The dolphins with the very next pick at #60 picked Satele. The word then was that Cam/Mueller were very high on Kalil who is now the starting center for the Panthers. I can't but help think that the dolphins had to settle for Satele that day after Carolina snaked their guy. I think Satele may end up being better at guard rather then at the more cerebral center position. Look for the Dolphins to address the center position in the draft again this year.

Lots o opinions here!

We have to franchise Carey! He didnt suck so get um!

Dolphons will get there need positions in FA...

OMG.... so many players want to go dolphins :) life is good!

How is Ginn being outplayed by Camarillo and Bess when Ginn lead the team in receptions, yards and yards per catch? I know Camarillo got hurt and he would have finished as our leading receiver because he was at one time on pace to for 85-90 receptions. He was also in his 3rd season and had been cut by one team and mostly a special teams player. So he was finally breaking out as a WR. Ginn is steadily improving. Just stop expecting him to be the player that he is not. Ginn is a speed guy, not a big physical possession WR or #1 WR even though he has excellent hands.

We don't really have a #1 WR. Camarillo is a solid player but he doesn't have great skills. Bess is more of a role player and slot guy. Ginn is a speed guy who can break big plays. We still need that #1 WR and we'll be in good shape. Hopefully Camarillo comes back 100% from his knee injury.

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