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Offensive line play as a grand, poetic dance

Offensive line play is like a ballet, which is ironic because I don't remember the last time I saw a 320-pound ballerina. I make the analogy because offensive line play has to be synchronized. It is about footwork. It values both strength and skill or technique.

It is beautiful when it is done well. It should be played to a soundtrack.

But it looks bad when someone butchers the technique or the execution.

The Dolphins offensive line last year was both poetry and an incomplete, no-sense-making sentence. (As the author of many incomplete, no-sense-making sentences, I know of what I speak.)

Anyway, coach Tony Sparano doesn't want his ballet to fall flat this year after struggling with inconsistency so often last year. 

Sparano, looking for answers, sometimes made changes along the offensive line. The right guard spot was often a revolving door that dropped one player off and picked another up. And that was probably too much switching week to week.

“The combinations of people sometimes from a mental standpoint can lead to the one or two mental errors per game that can hurt you,” the coach admitted Tuesday.

So whenever training camp begins, Sparano wants to build a line and stick with that group of starters. That's going to take some work because there is precious little the coach knows for sure about his offensive line.

He knows Vernon Carey will stay at right tackle. He said a move to guard is not in the cards "right now." Carey, seemingly slow at times last season to my eyes, can be a very good player. And he can also be very ordinary. Last year he was both.

But he was not fat. At least that's what Sparano said. The coach said Carey missed weight only once.

Sparano knows Jake Long will continue to be his most impressive and productive player. And, the good news is, Long should be healthy in time for camp. I asked the coach about Long's status and he said that while he wouldn't be ready to fully participate in offseason lifting or conditioning were a lockout not in place, the schedule was to have him ready for training camp. (You see what I meant about those crazy sentences?)

Richie Incognito is also a question mark. He can play either center or guard and Sparano said he is not 100 percent certain which one he'll play yet.

John Jerry? He was a right guard last year. The Dolphins want him to win a guard job this year and pay dividends on his draft stock and potential. But to do that he has to strengthen his core, according to the coach.

"He plays too bent," Sparano said. "I want him to play more erect."

Ahem. Moving on.

I wish to say something that will bust a myth wide open: Players with position flexibility is not what the Dolphins should want. Yes, I said it. A very wise and successful football man taught me recently what his definition of is of an offensive lineman who has position flexibility.

It means the guy is not good enough.

If the Dolphins are drafting offensive linemen, they should want a great center or a great guard. They should aspire to find someone who can play guard and tackle or center and guard. Why? Because only backups are position flexible.

If a player is a great center. That's where he'll go. That's where he'll stay. And no one will move him from there. Long? The guy is a left tackle. Period. End of story.

It is the journeymen and have-nots that have to find value as position flexible linemen. The Dolphins should not aspire to have-nots on the roster any more.

NOTE: As you know, the offensive line play and running back production go hand in hand. My column in today's Miami Herald examines why the Miami running game struggled and why you should not be buying Ricky Williams or Ronnie Brown jerseys this offseason.



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You could be right bill. But it does not make sense to me.

I think he will be the starter if we play this year, and not only that if he does and the o-line is strong, and coaches give him a chance he will be a top 10 qb.

wow top 10 qb, come on dude. plus our oline isnt good. 2013 we will bring in a vet to start

I predict that I will be bored until I leave work...

.....give him a chance he will be a top 10 qb.

Posted by: Poizen | March 23, 2011 at 03:51 PM

Excuse me for butting in, but ah Poizen, could you post this about 6 times a day from now till kickoff?

I've always been a Henne fan, but I'm having a little confidence crisis at the moment.

I'm not above being brainwashed!

Henne! Henne! Henne! Henne!

soild prediction marc unless that secretary close to you shakes her ass and lets down her hair

Lots of anger here today. I myself am guilty of this behavior on occasion. I suppose it's expected. Lock a bunch of guys in a log-cabin long enough, eventually moral breaks down and 'cabin-fever' sets in.

Hope we all survive until the spring thaw, the drafting, and the CBA fix.

At least the elements of hopefulness might return far more posts.

henne wouldnt be a top 10 qb in a 11 team league. i gave him every chance but the guy has no fire or toughness about him. awful leader.

I am not sure why a prediction is better than just speaking thoughts bill.

I am not making predictions because i have no control of the enviroment around the subject.

Odin, It is a stretch, but like i said. Through my eyes i have seen a pretty good QB, the down side is coaches get in his head and then he starts playing like a robot.

Now I do not know if that is because he is to stupid to make decisions on his own, or nowt confident.

He is not a stupid guy, GPA and others will tell you that. But confidence is huge, if somehow he can find it it seems the tools he has will lead to success.

BUT, confidence is very hard to "learn". Also Henne needs to f'n pump fake every now and again. Maybe with a better line he will feel he has time to do it. but he really never used the pump fake to freeze the defense.

Anyway, I think there will be footnbll this year, and Henne ends up a top 10 QB.

By the way, just started Ricky's hollistic program... :)

As long as we're all making predictions.......

I predict that the Offensive Line will become dominating very early in the season.

If mothing else, I think Tony and Jeffy get it straightened out, FINALLY!

odin how will they all the sudden become good, it will be the same guys. once we start playing again in 2013 hopefully the 2 drafts will bring us some new blood on the oline. get rid of carey and his fat contract


2013? MAN! What chu talkin bout?

Ahhh, Ricky's Hollistic Program strikes again-LOL!

well we wont play in 2012 brother

if henne is worried abut the coach yelling at him, or 'getting in trouble', he ain't no leader, he's a mama's boy.


Yeah, the Mayan Calender, end of the world, 2012, I get it.

What about 2011? I still have hope!

i say no way odinseye, they arent even close and they dont even talk directly anymore. just call each other names. wont be a 2011 season, sorry man

Hey fellas, what's up!! Looks like I missed all the fun today....Joe's having fun with a stalker, Bill's making some off the wall predictions (no football until 2013 now Bill? REALLY?).

Don't really have much to contribute....was just sticking my head in for a couple of minutes to say hello.

I'm hearing a lot of teams have interest in Ingram. I'm hearing the Saints and Packers might be interested. Will be interesting to see if we can get them to trade up and give up something for him. I'm still hoping we end up with Ryan Williams a little later or even Mikel Leshoure.

craig no football in 2011, meant 2012 we will play

OK, Bill....thanks for the clarification.

williams is someone we agree on craig. no way do i want ingram. trade down

Yep, still bored...

no secretary marc?

I tend to agree with you there, Bill. the problem becomes what do we do if there's no one to trade down with.

I'm also going on record as saying, if it wasn't for the lockout I'd be looking to trade Brandon Marshall. Yeah I know it's a crazy idea and I know this guy is making big money and there may not be a market for him but you watch what happens in another year or two when theis guy rebels and turns his back on the franchise. He's going to eventually become a cancer on this team, when his numbers aren't what he wants them to be and he feels like he isn't getting the ball enough. If there was no lockout going on I would trade him for a second and draft a guy like Baldwin as his replacement.

I'm fine with guys ripping me for saying this but let's see where we are in a year or two and remember that everyone thought it was a crazy idea. I don't think you win championships with guys like Brandon Marshall on the team. Just my opinion...

Poizen, Ricky's "holistic" program sure has a lot of inhaling involved huh? Hope you're using the right equipment, lol.

well craig sit back and relax cause they wont play in 2011. so we have 2 drafts to imporve before the 2012 season

We'll see, Bill. I still believe there will be football this year. There's a lot of posturing going on with both sides right now. April 6th or 8th is a big date. I believe the players will be allowed to go back to work after that date.

I'm sold on Jake Long and Cognito. Other than that, who do we got?

I don't have anything to back this up, but I got a theory on John Jerry. I think, for whatever reasons, he was able to pass the growth and performance enhancing steroid tests while in college.

Leading up to the combine, the draft and later, he found that the testing procedures were a bit more difficult.

Hence: his performance suffered from the lingering effects of not regularly cycling for the first time in 2 years.

I know it's a pretty slimy allegation to throw out there, especially with no proof whatsoever. But, it's what I believe. It's the only way I can understand his mysterious illnesses last season and his overall lack of performance. He sure didn't look like the beast he was in college.

Having said all that, here's to hoping he rebounds from whatever was ailing him in his rookie season!


You're right, you've got nothing to back that up.....it's just pure speculation on your part. The guy could have had mono for all we know. There's no way of knowing. Now if he was the player he was in College largely because of what he was taking and now he's off it, we're in a whole heap of trouble!! Might end up being another wasted pick.

The only olineman worthy of 1st rd status when our turn to pick, hopefully after a trade back, is Mike Pouncey. In a tradeback scenario Pouncey or Ryan Mallet makes the most sense for us.

Even though there are character and drug issues plaguing Mallet, he still doesnt disappoint in any of his tryouts. Drafting Pouncey solidifies moving Incognito to center.

Those looking to see Carey moved to guard, honestly I see it has a mild longshot.


Sparano says Jerry needs to strenthen his core. If ole boy were trucking down steroids his core would already be like titanium steel.

Im sure his offseason weightlifting has been oredered to be a heavy dosage of squats and deadlifts. That's how you improve body core strength. That would help eliminate Jerry playing "to bent", as Sparano was quotede as saying.

Armando must have recently watched Black Swan with references to ballet in both his articles. Obviously, it inspired him. Too bad it didn't transform him, into a better writer.

odin, good theory on john jerry. dolphins wouldnt talk about his mysterious "illness". i believe jason ferguson was caught too and he retired suddenly with no dolphin explanation. one of our other guys was out with something they wouldnt talk about but i forgot who it was. i do know they had to be real disappointed in jerrys play.

DOn't be surprised if this team does something we just don't expect in the draft, like drafting Aldon Smith in the first. I could totally see this guy playing alongside Wake and them moving Misi inside to play beside Dansby. Crowder's not long for this team.

On to another subject, kickoffs, with the new changes they should be just eliminated from the game completely. Moving 5yds closer to opponents endzone means more touchbacks and when returned would result in far more inside the 20yd line runbacks.

So most coaches will just instruct theier guys to not return them at all and take the ball at thier own 20yd line. If this will predominantly become the case, why even have kickoffs in the game at all?

It would make the game slightly faster just to award the opposing the ball at thier own 20yd line after each score thier defense gives up.

mono, being fat, not being good, coming out of the closet. whatever it was jerry wasnt good. so im not counting on him

Mrs. Linguist,

You are a ball less ass-hole with no life. Get lost douchebag.


Someone who realizes this is a BLOG


Aldon Smith is an intriguing prospect, however, it seems no matter who the guy is he doesnt dominate at the rolb in year one. With a year under his belt, who's to say Misi doesnt become dominant at the position in year 2.

So therefore, I think its far too early to scrap Misi and draft Smith. It's more likely Smith looks like Misi in year 1. If Smith was such a dominant day one player, there's no way he slips out of top 10 down to us anyway.

Think about that for a second. I surely hope Ireland thinks about that too.

Who's gonna be the Running backs this season????(if there's one??)


I like Misi. Just not sure he'll ever give us the pass rush from OLB we need. I don't ever see him projecting to a double digit sack guy. Time will tell. What I think Misi is though, is a complete football player. For everyone who wants to criticize him, I think he had a pretty good rookie season. I think Smith will provide more of a pass rush from the get go and long term.

Now if he was the player he was in College largely because of what he was taking and now he's off it, we're in a whole heap of trouble!! Might end up being another wasted pick.

Posted by: Craig M | March 23, 2011 at 05:01 PM


I don't know how old you are, but I remember Packers first round pick Tony Mandarich from Michigan State.

The guy had a terrible transition period for just these reasons.

Never really fully recovered either.

It's way to early to say Jerry isnt very good. Guy's 3rd rd draft picks are usually guys not expected to start in year one. Jerry did. That's a major accomplishment in itself for a 3rd rd pick.

But it's just like a Dolphin fan to have even more unrealistic expectations when a player has already exceeded expectations for where he was drafted. You guys dont realize how lucky we are that a 3rd rd player actually became a starter in year one.

But I still think it says more about the quality of competition we had at the guard position. Than Jerry was great enough to be a starter in year one. Still I think there's great possibility he can become a very "legit" nfl starting guard in year two.

Year 2, is pretty much when a 3rd rd'er is predicted to become a "legit" nfl starter. I believe Jerry will be much improved in year 2.


I'm 43. Funny story about Mandarich, he runs a golf course close to me in Southwestern Ontario (Canada) and I ran into him a couple of years ago. You would NEVER know that this guy played in the NFL. Much smaller than he was when he entered the NFL.


I agree with your 5:29pm post.

I disagree with your earlier post about Pouncey being the only good OL for us to take at 15. I actually think Pouncey would be a bit of a reach at 15. I don't think he'll turn out to be as good a player as his brother. I would be fine with Solder or Castonzo at 15 (assuming Castonzo can play RT) but I don't think they'll go that route. I think they'll give Carey another year at RT and look to replace him next year.

By the way, I'd be fine with giving up any next of year's picks to take a player this year, as long as it's not a first.



That should have said 'any of next year's picks'.


OK guys, I'm checking out for some dinner. I'll check in later...

craig m @ 4.49

i agree bm is def a worry as i said yesterday i'd give a 3rd or 4th round pic for him and henne to hold hands for the next month

if us guys were depressed by ts comments yest re "his nature" u can bet bm wasn't lapping it up either

however when he was still interested last season he had his moments - was it the gb game he was five catches for 60 or 70 in the first quarter or something but that was when they were briefly talking up the passing game

if his teammates can get his head screwed on he's still worth it and could still be the main man longterm if not a cancer he may well be, i agree

bill - u got any dead cert racing tips u can give me i could do with some fast cash and u'r the man for the predictions!!

Sparano says Jerry needs to strenthen his core. If ole boy were trucking down steroids his core would already be like titanium steel.

Posted by: DyingBreed | March 23, 2011 at 05:11 PM

This isn't necessarily accurate. Even if you're juicing, you still have to do the work. He could have been roiding up and working the upper body, legs or just neglecting the core workouts altogether.

Some of the "Jumbo's" have been known to NOTORIOUSLY hate working the core muscles with or without the roids.

Also, one of the more prevalent side effects of Steroid "withdrawal(if you can call it that)" is an immeadiate and faster than normal rate of muscle atrophy.

Mandarich dropped 50 pounds during his transition and had to almost start all over in his conditioning program.



If youve noticed, rolb's in the 3-4 really dont become dominant passrushers until year 3 or more. Rolb's also do a lot of dropping into coverage on passing downs too. Usually team's placed great pass rush lb's on the weakside rushing the qb.

How much the rolb rushes the passer depends onn the DC and his specific style of the 3-4 defense. The rolb usually gets "chipped" by the TE before getting into his route and then he faces a RT, after that there's a rb usually helping out on that side too.

There's a lot to opvercome on that side and that's why rolb's are usually not monster pass rushers in year one. It's more than just being physically dominant rushing the passer on that side. It takes a "few years" to become "mentally clever" enough to overcome the obstacle rushing the passer from that side.


You misread my post. I was stating Pouncey as traded down 1st rd stock. No way do I feel he's #15 graded stock. If he were he would probably be gone between #11 and #14. Slightly ahead of our #15 pick anyway. LOL...........


Read a mock today that has us picking Steven Friday in the sixth round out of VT. Anybody know much about this guy?


Greg M, Steve was born on a Thursday by Wednesday and tuesday friday, He's got a sister by the name of sunday..., BTW I'm not making this up.....


I would rather stay away from speculating things that havent come out as true. As far as I understand there are no reports speculated or proven that Jerry's linked to steroid usuage.

Barry Bonds wished he could only have it so good right now. Though the Bonds case isnt totally airtight for the feds, in comparison your Jerry allegations look its entirely missing a sky. LOL..............



DB @ 5:29

It's nice to see a fan not so eager to call every player a bust or a disappointment after one single season. It takes time folks. A huge percentage of HOF'rs did not play like pro bowlers their first season...many took a few years to develop.

As someone above mentioned, before Jerry someone else had a serious illness and knocked them out a bit. I'll give Jerry the benefit of the doubt, got weakened from an illness and never got back to form. Yeah, I'll give him another season before passing any judgement. In general, while the oline needs help, I don't think its the train wreck that everyone is making it out to be. Nate Garner will be coming back as well.

Misi may not have had that many sacks, but I think he was up there as far as rookies go. If Wake was getting so many sacks, Misi must have been doing something right. It's too easy to look at the next college player and say you want to swap him for what you already have, but the grass is always greener, too often they don't any better than the guy you have once they are in the nfl.

Remember Chris Long? We almost drafted him when the Jake negotiations stalled. It took him two or three seasons to show value. Seattle drafted gem OLB Aaron Curry 4th overall in 2009. He too was a 'disappointment' until later in his second season. Mario Williams, #1 overall was ordinary for two seasons before the light went on. I rest my case.

Be patient folks. It takes time more often than not. The Marinos, Jake Longs, Marshall Faulks and Ronnie Lotts are not the norm by any stretch, they are the rare excpetions that hit the ground running in year one.



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