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Miami's offensive line continues to be a problem

You want to know where the Dolphins running game went this year?

Look no further than the offensive line.

(Well, the line isn't totally at fault as the running backs have had too many moments when they've showed little explosion and don't often break tackles and the offensive coordinator has abandoned the run on more than one occasion.)

But I digress.

It is mostly the offensive line. I would say the problems with the running game are located in that group about 60 percent of the time.

So what is the problem? Well, let's start at the beginning:

The Miami coaching staff and personnel department had a good-not-great offensive line in 2009 after committing to nearly $156 million in contracts, the first overall selection of the 2008 draft, a fourth-round pick in the 2008 draft, a sixth-round pick in the 2008 draft, and a sixth-round pick in the 2009 draft.

But something happened to the Dolphins en route to having all that free agency money and draft resources become an excellent line: The bottom fell out.

The Dolphins signed Justin Smiley who came with a repuation for getting hurt and having a bum shoulder. And he got hurt and had a bum shoulder so bad the Dolphins asked him not to show up for offseason conditioning last March because they were afraid Smiley might hurt himself. He turned into a free agency bust because the team signed him to a big contract with the hopes he'd be the left guard for five years. He was the left guard for only part of two years.

The Dolphins also signed Jake Grove to a big contract in 2009 with the expectation he'd be their starting center for five years. He came with a reputation for getting hurt and the Dolphins were apparently surprised when, shockingly, Grove got hurt. Free agent bust.

Shawn Murphy was a draft bust. Donald Thomas, who showed much promise for about 10 minutes, got hurt in his first professional game and missed the rest of his rookie season. He came back last season and was a disappointment. He was cut in camp this year. Draft bust.

Andrew Gardner? Never really developed because, at the end of the day, he was a triple option blocker and no one in the NFL runs the triple option. Draft bust.

So those wasted picks hurt. 

The Dolphins did hit one draft home run by picking Jake Long with the first overall selection in 2008. He's been everything you might want of a franchise left tackle. So he's a draft exclamation point, as first overall picks should be.

But he's been playing injured practically the entire year.

I asked him after the Green Bay game how he was feeling. "I feel great," he said with a big smile.

That was perhaps the one time this season that's been the case. Long suffered MCL damage in one knee the final preseason game. That was an issue for a while. Then he injured his ankle. Then he suffered a shoulder injury that will likely require surgery after the season. And lately he's got knee problems again, which are limiting him in practice the last week or so to the point he hasn't participated in all the drills.

Long is playing well. But he's not as good as he could be simply because he's not 100 percent and really hasn't been all year, with the possible exception of that moment when he answered my question.

There is, of course, the right tackle spot, also. Vernon Carey is out for the remainder of the year. The Dolphins placed him on IR on Tuesday with a knee injury. Carey was not exactly setting the world on fire before he got hurt. Unofficial stats show he had allowed three sacks and was responsible for five penalties this season.

But Carey's departure is a big loss because the drop from him to the next best tackle on the team is significant. Lydon Murtha played right tackle on Sunday against New York. He yielded one sack and had a penalty. I do not know how he graded out run-blocking but the Dolphins averaged 3.2 yards per rush, so it is hard to imagine Murtha played great in that area.

And the tackles have been the strong points for the Miami line. Can you imagine?

The interior of the Miami line is a problem. A big problem.

Joe Berger is an over-acheiver and as many over-achievers do, sometimes he's up, sometimes he's down. The Dolphins are getting more than their money's worth for this second-tier free agent signee. That's good because they got so little for Grove. But is Berger dominant? Elite? No. No.

Rookie John Jerry showed hopeful signs of being a big-time acquisition when he earned a starting right guard job early on. But then he got sick and missed four games and was never really that good when he returned. Jerry actually started losing ground, playing poorly against Chicago and Oakland, so he was benched. So much for rookies developing from the jump and showing constant improvement.

This doesn't make Jerry a bust or a disappointment. But he's not exactly looking like a star, either, especially when you consider Pat McQuistan, a career backup who had not started a game until this year, is now starting at right guard.

You want to believe the reason McQuistan is starting is because he is simply a beast. The truth is he is starting because he's the best candidate of a struggling lot.

Interestingly, the biggest gamble the Dolphins took along the offensive line this year is working out. Richie Incognito came with an ugly reputation for losing his mind at precisely the wrong moment. That is the reason he got kicked off a college team, got kicked off the Rams and the Bills wanted to go in another direction so they cut him.

The Dolphins are lucky to have him now. Incognito has started every game. He hasn't freaked out at any point on the field. He's good enough that the Dolphins have made attempts to extend his one-year contract. He is not a big problem. He's good enough. But he's probably playing out of position because he seems to me to be a more natural and comfortable right guard. The fact he's playing out of position is a sign of Miami's weakness at left guard because, best case, Incognito would be at RG with a superior player at LG.

The picture this all paints is of a unit that the personnel department and the coaching staff have been trying to get right for three seasons with no success. They got somewhat good at the beginning of 2009 but they have fallen off since, never reaching a point where anyone with decision-making power feels the OL is solid and a non-issue.

Nope, the offensive line is an issue. The Dolphins will have to draft for more OL help this offseason. I imagine a guard or center will do the trick and the hope here is they pick someone early enough that he's good enough to play immediately. If Jeff Ireland is thinking outside the box, perhaps he can draft a right tackle and move Vernon Carey inside, although that would make Carey an overpaid guard. Whatever works, folks. It's not our money.

In the meantime, the offensive line is the black hole that swallowed Miami's running game. Frustratingly, the line doesn't seem dramatically better now than it was in 2008. On any given Sunday, it might even be worse.

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We also always did great with middle linebackers under Shula beginning with Bounticonti and ending with Zach Thomas under JJ.

Anyone still remember Steve Towles as Bounticonti's replacement? The guy didnt make a ton of pro bowls but that kid could still flatout play.

Then came Offerdahl, Cox, then Thomas. We always did very well with the man in the middle. LOL.........

Muncie was a beast too. We just got him a little late in his career. LOL.............

I was a big fan of two post SB players that just played great year in and year out, Tony Nathan and Nat Moore. They at least gave you hope every year we could win, and they won a lot. Now struggling for a WC berth seems like a major achievement.

Nathan and Moore, who will ever forget them either! LOL..........

Justice Roberts:


Thanks for the Memories!
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DB...you are forgetting about AJ DUHE! I can still remember Cosell raving about him on the pregame shows....

How about this for a trivia topic: Smartest and dumbest Fins ever.

I'll go with Tim Ruddy as smartest, from a sheer intelligence (outside football) perspective. Doug Swift would have to be there, too. Dick Anderson. Ricky, too, despite doing some obviously dumb things. His Wonderlic was supposedly through the roof.

Dumbest? I hate to be cruel but anyone remember hearing Ferrel Edmunds talk? Oh, Christ. It sounded like he had a bag of walnuts rattling around in there. Brian Socia was a real nitwit, too, and a racist (I actually have that on VERY good authority from a player I was friends with at the time...TJ Turner)

deytreder,

Are you kidding me? Duhe and Baumhower came in the same year. Duhe from LSU and Baumhower from Bama! LOL............

dr roberts,

Doug Swift? OMG, Swift has to be the most underated lb of all time. His only misfortune was being in the afc at the same time as Steelers Jack Ham and Andy Russell. If not for that he would probably be in the hof right now too. LOL.............

Smartest coach, Shula obviously. Dumbest, Wanny obviously, although Sparano is really trying his best to claim that spot.

Nat Moore is my favorite Dolphin ever.

Not that we didn't have greater players who had more impact, but Nat was a Miami kid (Edison High) who represented the team with such complete class and dignity his entire career. Post-career, too.

Always felt bad he came in just one year too late for a Super Bowl title and ended it with that one last chance versus a Niners team that was simply too good.

Steeler olb's during time Jack Ham and Andy Russell have single handedly kepted olb Doug Swift out of the hof.

The more I think about it, the more I think Sparano is one dumb Mudah Fuh....

Some Sobering reality....

Channing Crowder isn't close to ANY of those old Linebackers !
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I know Nat played a few more years after the Niners SB, but just meant that was his last great shot at a ring.

deytreder,

You dont think Camoron gets nod as dumbest Dolphin HC ever? He certainly has the record to prove it! LOL..................

Nat Moore caught the passes, all of them. And dang a pretty swift route runner. What's with these primadonnas today dropping bread basket balls on a regular basis??

Earnie Rhone (I think he spelled his first name that way) was another "not great, but pretty damn good" guy at LB. We HAVE had a lot of good ones there, no doubt.

Pretty good TE's for a LOT of years, too. Not just Mandich but also guys like Marv Fleming, Hardy, and Keith Jackson.

Nat Moore was also probably the only Dolphin player ever that knew how to fly a "helicopter". LOL...............

Have we mentioned Mike Kolen "Captain Crunch?"

Ernie Rhone was good too. He did spell it without the "a".

Db... Nope, I don't really think Cameron is dumb at all.. I think he was in over his head, the team suffered and extraordinary amount of injuries that season, and he wasn't strong enough to manage a team of NFL players. Dumb he is not. He is one of the top 5 OC's in the league, not my opinion, but the opinion of other HC's and his record with SD and Balt.

Wow, this has been a wonderful trip down memory lane. This exactly why as Dolphins fans we are such utterly spoiled brats.

Would love to stay and chat about it longer but I have to run to Wally World. I only go late night when there are no crowds. I absolutely hate Wally World when crowded. LOL...............

Doug Swift is a neurosurgeon here in Philly, by the way.

Always hoping I'll run into him although I doubt if I'd recognize the guy in 2010.

(let me qualify that by saying I hope I run into him in a NON-medical situation!)

Sparano is just plain dumb. Hillbilly dumb. His lack of command of the English language speaks volumes, not to mention his game management skills. He is a players coach, a week day coach, not a game day coach, not a coach that is going to out wit the Belichecks and Sean Paytons of the league.

Purely on basic intellect, JJ was probably the brightest guy the Dolphins have had on the sideline. He plays the "aw, shucks" act at times, but don't forget he has a degree in psychology as well.

Shula was the far better coach, however.

The o line thing is stupid! There fine, we need a play caller and a QB! The rest will follow!

I've listened to JJ speak enough, along with my ex psych degree girlfriends. I never found him to be that intelligent really, he was strong at managing people and had good luck in the draft with Dallas. I think Shula outsmarted his peers far more than JJ ever did. Shula did it for decades, jimbo had just a few good years, totally failed with the fins.

I just made ten bucks for five minutes work! Lord, I love the ho life!

It is funny as I read some of the names that you guys are bringing back to mind. I say that because even now, the Dolphins are a team that has always had players who made good, but who came from "Who knows where?"...

Shula in his prime... Damn, There were/are very few who could evaluate players as well. And, it was not just Shula, he had the same 4 guys as recruiting scouts for Years and Years. They knew each other and what Coach wanted in a player.

I don't know about what next year brings. Miami had better have the sh*t together when they chose that first pick... I know some want Henne to stay just so Miami will take a RB... That is fine, But if we have nothing new or promising behind Chad Henne, and he does not ever "Break out"... we will have to ride him through the entire season next year. I do not see this team EVER getting beyond 9-7 or 10-6 at best. With a "One and Done" in the play-offs. And Free agency is simply asking for another teams issues to come here. Perhaps if an Orton or Vince Young or Kolb. I personally think Young is a major head case and will be a problem wherever he goes.

Newton getting the H.T. will push the QB's down another few notches, I believe Miami will end up picking between 13 and 17... Henne will likely have to play another year... I do believe Miami better have some long serious thoughts about this coming draft... A RB would be wonderful, a guy like Ingram (Bama) or Leshoure (Illinois) would be a lot of fun to see out there... However... as your QB goes... so goes your team. I am still looking for that one "Signature" game from Henne that says I can do this... and I can do it well... 26 games and counting and I have not seen the "Clincher"... the 365Yds, 3TD, 0int free for all that all that all decent QB's have in them. Even with coaches gone mad and screwy lines... They somehow manage that "Signature Game"... Henne simply has not done it yet.

For our teams sake I hope that he has had a "Come to Jesus" with himself and decided he will NOT let Dan Henning destroy his career without a fight... His choice... His career.

Marv Levy was a notoriously bright coach as well. Harvard grad, and could have been a history professor.

Supposedly, his players would regularly glaze over as he gave long accounts of historic battles from antiquity but they also adored the guy and would run through a brick wall for him.

Betty = Pricemaster!
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fins need to sign carl nicks to play LG, santana moss play 2nd WR have bess in the slot and sign a vet. to play RG.DAN HENNING NEEDS TO GO

NFL Network had one of those "Top 10" specials today that was about Top Draft-Day Trades.

The one they ranked #8 was Miami getting Warfield from the Browns for a first-rounder in 1970.

What people forget is that the trade actually took place a few weeks BEFORE Shula was hired (the draft was in January back then). The guy who made the deal? Joe Thomas.

Thomas is forgotten by many but in fact he was Miami's first (and still best) personnell guy.

21 of the 22 starters Shula inherited and began to win with were ALREADY on the roster when he arrived.

Shula didn't acquire the players at all. It was Thomas who drafted guys like Csonka, Morris, Scott, Anderson, Kiick, Griese, etc. and traded or picked up vets like Warfield, Buoniconti, Little.

What Shula did was teach them how to win, but Thomas was the brains who got 'em to Miami in the first place.

Now Marv was a bright guy, but I thought we were talking about the fins players/staff. Noll and Landry bright too, damn they won games.

People don't realize it but there is no west coast offense...Bill Walsh said it himself it was the ohio offense that he learned and brought it to SF, but he didn't come up with it. The biggest unsung coaching hero in my mind is Don Coryell. Before him football was a running game with an occasional pass. When Fouts came out throwing on 1 2 and 3 downs, that was unheard of. I think Coryell has had far more impact on todays game than most people realize.

deytreder---You're correct about Walsh.

The offense he brought to San Francisco was the same one he had installed with the Bengals as an assistant under Paul Brown (and his successor...think his name was Bill Johnson)

I'd go back a bit further with the passing guru stuff. Sid Gillman was doing things in the AFL of the early 1960's that wouldn;t be seen again for 20 years.

Then again, the LA Rams of the early 1950's were pass happy, too, and put up some staggerting offensive totals.

is tony romo a dolphin next year?

no No NO !!!!

Romo is a choke artist!
He can't win the BIG ONE !
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I can't believe that there are some people saying "if we just draft a speedy RB, we will be fine". I don't think Walter Payton could find any daylight with this Oline. This group needs a complete overhaul. I wouldn't be upset if Long and Incognito are the only two survivors from this season. Perhaps, Jerry will get better with time.

That said, yes, Henning needs to go, and yes, we do need a speedy RB, and a TE, and a speedy WR...ah jeez.

kula,

I believe Armando may be right about moving Carey inside to the right guard spot. He is signed for a long time still and its big numbers, so Miami must get something out of him. He has lost a bit of his initial step and guys are getting by him, that is why the procedure penalties are being thrown at him, he is trying to get a jump (smart guy) but when you get caught you stall a drive. Miami could get away just fine if they could get a solid premium Center off of Free agency, then try and get an acceptable Right Tackle, they are much easier to find the Left Tackles.

As far as a RB goes, I feel certain Miami will take one in this draft... It is just a question of where they use the pick. Last year was all Defense and two of those players still have never played more then 1 game... Defense will not be this seasons draft priority, it will be an offense heavy draft... I want a QB or Elite RB with the #1 and lean to QB harder then RB... Decent running backs can be found in the mid rounds if you do your homework. No so with QB (once in a rare while you may see one like Brady in the 6th)...

Round 1: Speedster kick returner who might catch 10-20 passes/season
R2: OL mauler
R3: RB
R4: OL steady player
R5: OL steady
R6: OL steady
R7: OL steady

And get AJ Smith pissed off at Phillip Rivers so he trades him, as SD is going to miss the post-season. It'll be Brees Part II. Then we're set! Sparano's dream draft!

pll

Thank for the insite
It's the decision-making that always raises a red flag. Who was getting it wrong(Parcell or Ierland)?It's the high level personnel decisions between the two that I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW ABOUT.That I guess would take a one on one talk with the fly on the wall.
All I know now is Ierland is our GM.WERE ONLY AS GOOD AS HE IS!!! G o Jeff Ierland

Phillip,

I hope you are only joking? A draft like that would get a GM,HC, DC, OC and anyone else in the war room fired without a handshake or even a goodbye...

BTW... we do not have a second round pick... that is why our #1 is so important.

Just one QUESTION, is OL coach Mike Maser the problem?

QB with 1st pick!!

Snausages

We can slam Henne all we want. But when you can't be sure of what is going to break down before you even settle under center, you can't predict a 50 50 outcome.

People are missing assignments on the oline. Backs aren't breaking into holes. Receivers are dropping 2 and 7 balls. And the play calling is erratic.

We can point to the coaching but in a lot of cases it is everyone on the team that is messing things up at one time or the other. Missing a key block, allowing a sack, bad handoff, missing a hole, dropping a pass, bad play calling etc etc etc. It isn't just one guy it is the whole team. Uncoordinated, bad timing and injured,

Dan Henning gets this years posthumous award for playcalling.
Fire him now!

You nailed this one Armando! And you were kind not to point out that we traded Satele, who has started every game in his career and would've been a steady spot in the line up! So much for personnel matters!

HENNE HAS SAME RECORD AS;
RIVERS
P.MANNING
HENNE HAS A BETTER RECORD THAN;
ALEX SMITH
HASSELBACK
ORTON
MACNABB

I love the Chad Henne to Brady and Manning comments....please keep them comming......

Next IF we get the new OC that the majority of this blog WANTS it will be.....Henne needs to learn the system he needs another year....nobody does well in a new system the first year.....

The fact is that most FIN FANS haven't seen an arm as strong as Henne's since the one who shall remain nameless.....and since his arm is so strong we want him to be something he can't be.....I think he is missing it upstairs....plain and simple....it takes him to long to process information....he needs an update....hence the staring down recievers and needing 5 seconds to wait for HIS recievr to come open....

Please everybody....watch a game that the Dolphins arn't playing in...and see how quick Eli, Carson, Mcnabb get the ball out.

I purposly did not pick TOP TIER....they just process info faster....it's about rythm and reading...and Henne looks like he has a G.E.D in NFL QBing rather than a Diploma.

Look at our QB almost sack himself and drop to the ground when he feels the rush and he doesn't see HIS man open....

Does anybody throw the ball FUTHER OUT OF BOUNDS THEN HENNE???

We run WC becase the staff can't trust him....and they will bring in a vet next year because thier jobs depend on it.....would you trust Henne with your family's future income?

Thanks for the memories.

How we gonna feed these offensive linemen?

9 out 10 tomatoes on the nations tables are from Florida during the Winter months

New World Order HAARP severe weather of mass destruction has successfully DEVASTATED Florida`s fruit & vegetable supply. your food

Expect dramatic price rise if for the small pickens

The worst New World Order HAARP created & stalled severe storms are yet to come for your displeasure and demise

Don`t say u were not warned

Vernon Carey will be gaining weight eating processed fattening foods
Might eat himself out of football

"Sean Smith legitimately dropped three interceptions," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said the day after his team grinded out a 10-6 win over the Jets. "I don't want to be an idiot here but … we could've had more turnovers. We could've probably had about six of them."

... just saying

How does the NFL practice in this HAARPed up weather?

Areas from Minnesota to Ohio to New York have already seen more than a foot of HAARP created snow in the past several days.

And brutal weather has stranded hundreds of people on a Canadian highway and jeopardized crops in Florida with freezing temperatures this week.

On Tuesday, about 300 people were stranded after what a local official called the most brutal storm to hit the Ontario region in more than two decades. Can u imagine if this weather was somehow created by say, The New World Order and their HAARP toys?

Some people had been stuck in their vehicles for more than 24 hours following blinding snow that piled up so high that opening vehicle doors proved nearly impossible.

"You really felt almost despair," said Brandon Junkin, who spent almost 24 hours stranded before being rescued Tuesday afternoon after he heard a helicopter hovering over his immobilized truck. He had run out of gas and was without anything other than a blanket to help him through the ordeal.

The Canadian military assigned a CC-130 Hercules airplane and two CH-146 Griffons helicopters to the search and rescue effort, which also includes snowmobiles and four-wheel-drive vehicles from the provincial police.

Ontario Provincial Police initially reported about 360 vehicles and about 300 people had been stranded near Sarnia, Ontario, on Highway 402 -- a major thoroughfare linking the U.S.-Canada border to London, Ontario.

The goal of the New World Order is to eliminate at least 5 billion useless feeders

Soon there will be nothing but icicles to eat for the slaves


"Miami's offensive line continues to be a problem" Hey, wasn't Tony Sparano a line coach? Just sayin---


Fitzpatrick 21 TDs Henne, well u know

Bills will not be an easy win

#1 Bills QB, RB & WR
All have much bigger margin of TDs than Dolphins #1 QB, RB and WR

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