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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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Later, have a good one Bro`s


oscar canosa,

Im beginning to think Vontae gets more inspired to play against the upper echelon wr's then the also rans dominate him because he doesnt feel equally as challenged.

The coaches need to rip him a new a*sshole about this before it becomes unbreakable habit.


You make a great point because Y-Bell is above average as a run defender but he now totally sucks in coverage. I hope he knows tthe music he now hears approaching isnt the ice cream truck.

Later fin-4ever! LOL.........


It pays to know your enemy!

About Vontae's performance, do you think any of that could've been due to that stupid "celebration" injury or the latter ankle(I think)injury?

He did play well enough that a lot of QB's didn't want to throw at him.

I also(and everybody else) saw that in Vontae towards the end of the season, and it's concerning. But, for all practical purposes, he is still a kid and subject to all sorts of influences. I have never thought of Vontae as a shutdown corner but rather as these very physical, hard-hitting corners.

Bro's Im out too! Gotta get my sorry a*ss off of this damn cave man horn. Holla at you bro's later. LOL......

I think Vontae underestimates what he concieves to be inferior wr's. It was the no names or supposedly inferior wr's that were making critical plays against him towards seasons end.

Thats what has me worried and I think Vontae underestimates them in his self gullible youth. Those guys had no business making critical plays against him.

Man, I forgot about Will Allen!


This must be the bewitching hour.

Time to make a strong one and fire up the Stratocaster.

I'm glad my kids room is ALL THE WAY down on the other end of the house.

Good Night Dying Bob!

Good Night 4Fin Boy!

...............Good Night Oscar Ellen!


usually is a qb doesnt feel safe throwing at a certain db. That's what defines him as a shutdown corner.

Qb's are reluctant to throw at him because they have to make a higher degree of accuracy in thier throws because the seperation between he and thier reciever presents such a small window.

Thats a shutdown corner. Almost every pass thrown at him must be with a high degree of accuracy and superior ball placement. So this presents higher chance of incompltions and picks.

In all, we can safely say that the Dolphins are pretty well set up in the defensive backfield.

G'nite fellas! LOL............

Jimmy Smith and Vontae Davis is pretty appealing IMO


You waited until 2:39 in the morning to say that?

I mean, WTF were you doing? Laying there half asleep and just thought, WOW! HEY!

Jimmy Smith and Vontae Davis is pretty appealing!

Come on man! If you're just going to jump up in the middle of the night, at least have the decency to have an epiphany or something.

For Christ's sakes! Jimmy Smith and Vontae Davis is still going to be appealing in the MORNING!


Central time zone here and I get off work late what's your excuse, rainman?

odinseye, db, or f4l, which one is the reincarnation of sun tzu? got to be one of them

very educational blog , got confused about mayonaise though


I wouldn't ignore that. He may come with big surprise!

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