« Dolphins under investigation for improper player-coach contact | Main | Dolphins to host Newton,Gabbert this weekend »

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.



TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Offensive line play as a grand, poetic dance:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Let's leave it as OLB or ILB. You're the only guy I know who gets specific with ROLB or LOLB. I don't see any of the experts talking that way. There's too much that goes into a decision on where a guy plays than to simply say this guy is this or that guy is that.


Thanks for that info on Solder. I don't care what anyone says, it's posts like that, that makes this blog better.

I love the back and forth banter, but I love all the info even more!

Bottom's Up!!!!


Now you're talking. Your post at 11:35 makes good sense.


Common sense. Have you ever heard of it? Joey Porter's playing the same position Wake now plays for us. If they draft Miller it's sayonora for Joey Porter.

Plus, its brain dead to pick a guy that high and not have him planned to play the position reserved as "primary" pass rusher. He'll play the exact same position as C Wake.

No rookie is dominant as a pass rusher playing the opposite pass rush lb position in his first season. Again, COMMON SENSE!


When I say rolb just consider it as anyone playing the exact same position as Koa Misi. No rookie olb is dominant playing the same exact position as Koa Misi. Geesh already, ok! LOL..................

Posted by: DyingBreed | March 23, 2011 at 11:30 PM

Yeah, but is he playing the exact same position as Misi when he's on the right side or the left?


Yeah Buddy, I'll give it a rest already. I think I'm giving myself a headache-LOL!


I also dont give a s*hit whether Hunter is our pick or not. I dont give a s*hit if Ireland went out and hired the LOONEY TUNES cartoon characters to play for us this season.

Whether we get these players or not doesnt change the fact some of these will have very good pro careers somewhere else. Also remember they are not restrained by the will of your opinions about them either.


Ease up man!! I just think you're making too many assumptions as far as Miller is concerned. Of course he's going to play the pass rusher role and chances are very good that he's the next Demarcus Ware. I think Porter is already gone whether they draft Miller or not. He was a complete and total flop last year and contributed next to nothing. Let's see how these kids perform in the NFL before we hand them their roles. Let's remember that it didn't happen for Wake right away and it never did happen for guy like Gholston or Maybin.

In all fairness and I don`t want to upset anyone DB is simply stating a fact, the Strong side backer is supposed to set the edge and drop into coverage as well, with responsability of staying with his man before releasing down field. The weak side is more of the pass rushing backer and when he drops back it`s into a zone.


I'm going to check out. You're in an argumentative mood tonight and I can't be bothered. You've been saying Kendall Hunter's going to be the best back in the draft when we look back in a few years and I don't see it. Seems to be OK that you hammer us with your opinion and over and over again but seems to be a problem when we share ours.

Don't forget to leave me your source that talks about Hunter being the second best blocking running back in the draft....ciao!

DB, you seem wound a little tight tonight ?


The experts are specifying the exact position these players will play. Its just that its going right over your head. Von Miller is projected to play the exact same position Cam Wake now plays for us.

Just because you dont understand the truth doesnt make it any less the truth. Primary pass rush lb is always the weakside olb(Wake's playing position). Hope you now understand.

I don`t think Hunter will be anything more than a good serviceable back, I don`t see the next L.MCcoy or a young Westbrook even but then again I don`t see anybody in that catagory this year.


Guys love putting words in your mouth that you know you didnt say sometimes. It makes me wonder who tied thier shoe laces for them before they left leave the house every morning. LOL..........

It does matter.

The strongside backer faces the TE almost every play. His strengths are fighting off blocks, setting the edge and sometimes dropping into coverage.

The weakside backer's strengths are getiing around the corner and getting after the QB.

They are football players and they share a lot of similar reponsibilities, but what I stated above is the GENERAL RULE.

PS: Aloco!

You get back here! Don't you run from Dying Breed!


You don't need to get insulting. Your condoscending tone does nothing to argue your point. Just makes you sound like an a**.

fin4life, is right, you're wound a little too tightly tonight. Go grab a couple of drinks with Alocco.


The point youre all missing about Hunter is what I call the "Woodhead" effect. It difficult to locate these smallish type rb's in the backfield until theyre blowing past you.

Im sure no one would have said lets draft Woodhead no matter how great a season he had in college. But now we see the kind of impact a small quickish type rb has on opposing defense. Its damn hard to locate them until its too late! LOL.................

Craig M,

Before you go and just for the record, I didn't say Hunter is the best blocking back in the draft.

I did say that I've read a lot of scouting reports that say he's a good blocker, especially for his size.

PS: Aloco!

You hear me?


Now youre getting it. So that makes Wake the weakside olb doesnt it! Also thats what makes it so difficult for strongside olb's to be dominant pass rushers right away.

On passing downs they get chipped by the TE, blocked by the right tackle, then if lucky enough to get through both of those, he has a rb waiting as the last line of pass rush defense for the offense.

Now do you see why its so tough for rookies to dominate as pass rusher from the srongside olb position? He only has to most times beat 3(TE, RT, RB) guys to get the qb. LOL.............


Give me a break!! You've already said that the Pats should be in the market for a running back this draft. That Woodhead and the others aren't good enough for that team. Now your advocating that we pick 'the next Woodhead'.

For the record, Woodhead wasn't drafted, wasn't good enough to stick with the Jets and became a 'situational' player for the Pats. You're right, he's not big enough and neither is Hunter. Strikes me as the next C J Spiller. Let's see in a couple of years who's right.

Now we are getting into People that know Football. I made the mistake today in the afternoon to point out that TS's Teams don't beat themselves and somebody said that they get "beat by other Teams". Absolute ignorance of how penalties(that's what I was talking about), can beat a Team. But I'm sure you guys know better. Misi can set the edge, but he has to do a much better job of bearing down on TE's at the line of scrimmaGE.

DB @11:57

Good point it`s why I like the kid from Kansas Derek Locke as well, some knock Taiwan Jones but if healthy could be a nice complementary piece of the puzzle. I really feel there are so many options in both the draft and FA that we could go any # of routes to solving the R.B. position. The one thing that killed us last year in my opinion is that R&R are pretty interchangable, we weren`t hitting anybody with something different when switching those 2 in and out.

You guys just need to calm down a bit.

Otherwise I'm just going to burn the Ganja and finish writing a superficial love song for my next unsuspecting victi........ah I mean........

Just Cool It!

The strongside olb does a lot of dropping into coverage on some passing downs too. So when all things are considered. Its extremely difficult for a strongside olb to be a consistent double digit sackmaster year end and year out.

If you find a strongside olb that can be a perrenial double digit sackmaster. Youre not only looking at a perrenial pro bowler. Your also looking at a perrenial all pro for multiple years to come.


My comment about showing proof that Hunter is the second best blocking running back was directed at DB. I'd like to know where he's getting this stuff.


Actually, the term Strong Side linebacker originates with the offenses formation, of all places.

WHATEVER side the TE lines up on is the strongside because they have an extra receiver or blocker in the TE on that side.

Hence: The linebacker that lines up over the TE is called the Strong Side Linebacker.


I use Woodhead's height for an example and again you take something way out of text to mean something it has no relationship too. Woodhead's neither as fast or strong has Hunter. That's why Woodhead wasnt drafted and Hunter will.

I only used Woodhead as primary example of how difficult it is to locate "smallish" in height rb's until theyre blowing past you. Only you can come up with a "powdered" version of a "wet" dream! LOL............

@ Oscar,

Misi was not very good at setting the edge early, it`s why Ike was getting playing time early in the season, he got better as the season wore on, also part of his responsability at the edge is standing the T.E. up and moving him laterally towards the sideline, hence set the edge and opposing T.E. were getting releases on him quickly allowing extra blockers at the 2nd level, that`s more mental and he should get better and he has to in order to slow them down into there routes as well.


You come up with even more to again confuse yourself. Who really cares which came first, the chicken or the egg.

This is as simple as I know how to get it and I hope you dont screw yourself again. A team's best pass rush olb almost always lines up over the offenses left tackle during passing situation.

If left tackle still confuses you. Just think Jake Long. PHEW!.........LOL.............


I saw that argument earlier today.

You should have pointed out that Shula, the NFL's all time winningest coach also had the least penalized teams of all time!


Actually setting the edge is to not try and make the play on the rb yourself. But to try and shade him on the outside and force him to run into the middle where more defenders are.

Usually if the strongside contain guys tries to make the play and misses or the rb makes him miss, there zero comtain left outdside. this is what Misi was doing earlier.

Strongside olb is usually a position thats not going to always fill up the stat sheet. But if guys inside of him are getting high stat sheet numbers its usually a testament to the strongside olb doing his job very well.

However, just like I stated earlier, he wont be a consistent double digit sack guy because he may have upto 3 guys to get thru to get to the passer. Then of the two olb's he drops into coverage on passing downs far more often. That's why coverage skills are also a must at the position.

odin, many times, you have to be gentle.

I believe so too(about Misi), fin4life.


I hear you he has to seal the sideline and in running situations take the T.E. with him as well, while slowing them down into there releases. In Missi`s case he was the one getting sealed back into the line and while he got better as the season wore on he was maddeningly inconsistent at it.

i see dyingbreed is on edge tonight. too much whiskey or not enough sumptin else?


I don't want to be rude, but don't even try it.

YOU'RE the one that's confused. I even copied and posted your own post, which I'll do again.

You said, and I quote: "Knowing now that rolb's take a little longer to become a dominant pass rush force than weakside olb's".

If you can't even understand what YOU posted, I don't know what to say!

The ROLB lines up over the LT. The right side of the defense is the left side of the offense, HELLO?

So how can a ROLB take longer to become a dominant pass rusher than the weakside Linebacker, WHEN, the ROLB IS the weakside Linebacker.

Like I said above, I don't mean to be rude, but I played football all through school and I coached for 7 years up to the High School level.

PS: DB, for the record, The Egg came first.

Dinosaurs were laying eggs well before Chickens ever hatched!

Yessir, that strong side LB position is a very demanding and(mostly) unrewarding position to play.


Apples and oranges my dear boy. You know Im talking the position Wake plays vs the position Misi plays. The positions Misi plays its extremely rare a player is a dominant pass rush force in year one.

Do you wanna play anymore "you say tomato, I say tomaato? LOL...............

professor odinseye,

Tell me this: Which came first, the egg shell or the egg?

Then once youre finished brainstorming over that one. I would also like to know which came first, the egg white or the yolk? Please take your time. LOL.............

Well, I'll still play.........

BUT! I'm not going to say that position Cameron Wake plays. I'm goig to say ROLB(picture me sticking out my tongue)!

PS: And it's not Tomato, it's Tuh-Mah-Toe!!!!

oscar canosa,

I met a hispanic woman last week and told her that my name was Canosa Roasta-Weiner and that she had very nice buns I wouild like to lay between.

professor odinseye,

Tell me this: Which came first, the egg shell or the egg?

Then once youre finished brainstorming over that one. I would also like to know which came first, the egg white or the yolk? Please take your time. LOL.............

Posted by: DyingBreed | March 24, 2011 at 12:44 AM

Oh geez.........I knew I should've just smoked the Ganja!!!!

@ DB, odin

Football is a game of chess, for the diehard fan who understands what he`s looking at based on formations both Offensive and Deffensive, to pre-snap shifts you sart to see the players kind of like pawns on a chess board. I `ll give one example in today`s game you see alot of unbalanced formations with quick fast T.E.`s in the slot strong side forcing the will L.B. of the line of scrimmage while bringing the S.S. up, giving the T.E. in tight on the formation and the R.B.`s a hole 5 to 10 yards downfield, while creating alot of mismatches deep, on one on one coverage. These quick strike Offenses are a direct response to the 3/4 blitz happy Defenses and the reason we will see more spread in the NFL, it`s here to stay. We all saw it work to perfection in the SB but it does require a trigger man.


If my balls were egg whites we would have mayonaise by now because of the way youve been busting them. LOL....................

Another player I'm expecting improvement from is Nolan Carroll. He has a lot of speed and smarts(runs in his family) and he could be a force in that defensive backfield. For a rookie, he did not look too bad last year.





The Spread O - The blitzing D

My momma always said, "Life was like a box of chocolates.


Because the athlete in today's sports are so equally matched it has to be chess like strategy employed. But, the better the pieces are that you have to work with, the better your chances become of achieving success.

Strategy means very little when working with inferior pieces. LOL.........

If my balls were egg whites we would have mayonaise by now because of the way youve been busting them. LOL....................

Posted by: DyingBreed | March 24, 2011 at 12:51 AM

ROTFLMFAO!!!! I'm stealing that one for sure!

oscar canosa,

I agree, Nolan Carrol's another player to look for as being on the rise this season. Great looking out! LOL...........


I bet you play a mean game of Chess?

rotflmao@ odinseye 12:57 PM.

Hell, if you added a few sweet pickles and a little ketchup my mayonaise balls wouuld be Helmums sandwich spread too! LOL..........


Right on that`s why I have been debating quicker players than Ingram with alot of others for some time now, it`s why I think odin is high on Taiwan Jones as a rec. out of the backfield. It`s the reason I wanted to hurl in last years draft when we passed on A.Hernandez for Edds in the 4th. round, a perfect fit as that slot T.E. It`s also why the Pack could have at it for a while can you imagine when they get Jermicheal Finley back and can move Nelson to the top of the formation inside Jennings !

Fin4life, Dying Breed, Oscar, I like you guys.

I don't like Jeff Ireland, but I like you guys.

Now that I think about it, I'm starting to not like Tony SpOrano very much either.

But, I like you guys.

Hey, now that I'm thinking about it..........Armando's been pissing me off a lot lately too..............................

PS: But I like you guys!!!!


Vontae is tough as all hell, but Sean is more talented almost a dominating DB(what QB is going to dare throw it over that wingspan). I am not sold on Chris Clemons but there is that other kid that looks like a playmaker. Yeremiah is older but I believe solid if they can only hit those TE's at the line. That's a very good defensive backfield for years to come.


I play chess ok. I would seem like a master to those with less than intermediate games. But it is just like anything else in life. Until you fully understand what the opposition is trying to achieve against you. You'll never even have a clue as to how to stop it.

In chess first you must understand what the opponent is trying to achieve against you. Then you must formulate what his primary weakness is when coming at you in that manner and counter attack along that defined line.

Counter attacking in any other manner, more likely than not, will help your opponent achieve his goal.


Im still very concerned about Vontae. He was a total shutdown corner the first 8 games. As we approached closer to season's end his tail off became much more noticeble.

I hope this doesnt develop into a trend with him. We need him to be dominant 16 games a season, not just for eight games.

By year 4, I believe he and Sean Smith both need be served noticed of Nolan Carroll blasting by one of them should they get comfortable in slacking off. LOL...............

I got so caught up I just now went back and read that mayonaise post, lol


I agree on the backfield. It seems like they steadily improved all season long.

There's only two things though and somebody said something earlier about one of them. The cleats!!!! What the hell is the deal with all the falling down. I don't watch other teams as close as I watch the Fins, but I've never seen so many guys in the defensive backfield falling doqwn.

The other thing, the dropped interceptions. Shoulda's, woulda's, coulda's, but MAN!!!!

You fix those two things and I'm telling you, with the guys we got right now, this secondary is on the verge of formidible.

I think Nolan needs to ease Chris Clemons into SS, where I think he's better suited to play. With him and Reshad being our starting safeties!

For that matter Will Allen sending one of them to the bench to stay next season, no Jason Allen to kick around this year

« 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 »

The comments to this entry are closed.