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Debunking the myth of OL position flexibility

For several years now, since Bill Parcells-Jeff Ireland-Tony Sparano took control in Miami, we've heard the term "position flexibility" mentioned time and again as an asset, indeed a necessity, for Dolphins offensive linemen.

I suspect you'll hear the term more in the coming months based on the fact the Dolphins selected Mike Pouncey with their first overall pick in this draft and he has played both guard and center at the University of Florida.

"... He really only played the center position for one year," Ireland said following the pick, "… and like I said, it’s going to be up to the coaches on where they put him. I think we have great position flexibility with he and Richie (Incognito) and so ... but right now, I think we’re going to slide him in at center and go from there.”

I would tell you Pouncey will slide in at center and he better not slide out. I would tell you his value is at center as the signal-caller for the entire line. I would tell you picking a guard at No. 15 overall is not nearly as good a deal as picking a starting center.

I would tell you the Dolphins better cast off these freaky ideas of position flexibility with Pouncey and all their other good linemen.

If coach Sparano is reading this, he's not happy. The man loves the ability to mix and match, move and coordinate different combinations of linemen on offense. He is like a scientist in a lab.

I hate that.

Football ain't no lab project. I think the way to make an offensive line great is picking your five best guys and leaving them at their spots until something significant like a world war dictates otherwise -- position flexibility be damned.

Frankly, to me, position flexibility is a euphimism for not good enough to keep one spot. Jake Long has zero position flexibility. The man is going to be Miami's left tackle until he retires.

That's not a bad thing. That's a good thing!

Meanwhile, guys like Nate Garner, Richie Incognito, Joe Berger, Pat McQuistan can bounce around at left guard, right guard, a little bit at center, some at tackle, and they're just ... ok. Not great. Not amazing. Not Pro Bowl players.

Just ok.

I've had it with just ok position flexible offensive linemen.

The Dolphins should decide that Pouncey is a center and leave him there. Period. The Dolphins should figure out if second-year man John Jerry is a left guard or a right guard and live and die with that decision. The Dolphins should know Incognito is best at right guard and anchor him there until someone rips the job from his cold, clammy hands.


Flexibility, schlexibility!

Toying with all this position flexibility is necessary for the scrubs. But the guys that you want to start? It's bad. It's a path to confusion.

Position flexible players are jacks of all trades ... and masters of none.

I hope, I pray, the Dolphins are not telling their scouts, "Go out there and find me an offensive lineman with position flexibility," because that is code for, "Go out and get me a replaceable backup."

And that leads me to my next beef about Miami's approach to building the offensive line: I hate all the constant experimenting.

The past two seasons, the Dolphins have toyed with their offensive line the first three, perhaps four weeks of training camp and into the early preseason games.


Note to coaching staff from the guy who knows nothing: Your 2011 starting offensive line should be LT Jake Long, LG John Jerry, C Mike Pouncey, RG Richie Incognito, RT Vernon Carey. That's it. The only possible tweak might be to switch Jerry and Incognito if Jerry still hasn't figured things out well enough. But that's all. Period.

I don't want Pat McQuistan to get a chance to earn a starting spot. He's not a starting-caliber player. I don't want Rey Feinga tagging in and out wherever it is he's playing these days.

Pick your five and commit to them. Let them grow together. Let them struggle together, if necessary. But let them do it together. That forms a bond. That forms chemistry. That forms kinship.

I remember Don Shula drafted Richmond Webb and Keith Sims in 1990 and put them at LT and LG, respectively, and that was that. There was no room given for experimentation. They played every single snap of the preseason. And they played all but one snap of the regular-season side by side.

By 1991, these guys were so in tune with each other, they actually would walk out to practice and then off the field with Sims on Webb's right -- just like they lined up. They lockered that way, too. It became the natural order of things for the two.

No mixing. No matching. No experimenting.

The only option they got was do or don't do. Succeed or fail. It wasn't, "Well, if you don't play well at left tackle, Richmond, we'll move you over to right tackle."

I'm sure a coach reading this could present a dozen reasons why experimentation is important with the likely starting group. Fair. I can give one reason why experimentation is not smart: It failed last year. It failed horribly.

Pick a group. Stick with them through some adversity. Let them grow. That's how good offensive lines blossom. 

[NOTE: Same drill today as yesterday. I'll update later with whatever information I dig up. Don't go anywhere. Follow me on twitter. And there will be a live blog starting at 6 p.m. when the draft gets underway.]


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I wouldn't be surprised to see Stanzi picked before Mallet if he falls to the third... I know some teams covet Stanzi higher than most

That Sport Science video is pretty f'in sweet.

The patsies have Wilfork, and the bills and jesters both took 1st round DTs, so it's kind of hard criticize this pick. If Sparano can stopp juggling OLinemen they'll be a force to reckon with.


By the way if it makes you feel better we are all idiots. My wife calls me that once a day and if you are married you know the wife is always right HAHAHA

all i know is whatever side the pats have solder on you will find wake. aldon smith owned him when missouri played colorado. wake will make him cry like a baby.

DYing Breed...I'm glad you liked the video, and thank you for giving me credit for posting it. I just figured after seeing all the comments about Pouncey being a terrible center, this video needed to be seen, and THANK you for helping me open some eyes.

Unless the guy they were trading up for had a last name like 'Manning' or 'Elway' I would NOT want to ever see Miami making the kind of deal the Falcons did last night.

Jones is a nice player who will add more zip to that offense, no question, but what they gave up is insane in my opinion. Jeez, did they throw in Peachtree Street and the Braves as well?

I think it's the BROWNS who get the A+ on that deal.

Hey Armando,

The draft stuff is great'n'all, but what's the status on player transactions?? All anyone, anywhere is reporting on is the draft, which is understandable, but I can't find any info on what the ramifications of the lockout being lifted are.

IMO trading away a player (CHANNING CROWDER!) is the Phins only hope of getting back into the 2nd round.

lockout back on. this sucks

Dan Halen,

Ev1 were thanking me. Credit should go where credit is due and that's to you. Thanks for that video baby!

I like the O-line pick. Pouncy could hold down a line position for years to come.

Line improvement will help Henne.

I just wonder about how this solves the lack of a pulling G. As a C Pouncy purportedly can get to the 2nd level blocking. Who on the squad at G will?

Seems to me a FA G ought to still be a priority.

I agree with Ben Volin that the Dolphins just as easily could have gone the Ogden route and drafted a OT at #15. Run him at G a couple years then slide him to RT as Carey retires.


this just in. the pouncey's aren't twins. video proof they are triplets:


Dan Halen,

I have book marked the link and everytime someone says Pouncey can snap out of the shotgun or maybe to small for center. Im reposting it baby!


Sparano tinkers because he is unsure of his own decision making. His approach is the same approach he's had since he started here. He is afraid to fail. He can't pick the best 5 because he continues to second guess himself. Again, because he is afraid to fail. I hope that after the upcoming 5 win season Ross has the nutsack to fire both sparano and Ireland. It's time to go. Parcels saw that he failed and that he picked to boobs as his underlings and bailed. These guys are over their heads. Plain and simple. This is year four and I can honestly say that their aren't any more playmakers on this team thn when they were 1-15. That said, they go and pick a center. They need to reach for a QB or make a trade. Any trade. If the phones weren't ringing then make a team an offer worth taking. Instead of a second take an extra third and fourth. Anything. Just don't make a safe play. That's been happening on and off the field for three years now and look where it has gotten them. Pouncey is a piece that a contending team picks to supplement o line depth or a "last piece to the puzzle" pick. Not someone that a team that lacks playmakers and touchdown makers picks. Sorry, especially seeing that he's too small to be a center and not overly strong or quick to be a guard. Just terrible. Again!

DB - Thanks for the video. Purdy durned good. I retract what I've said about his snapping ability - what I had seen was pretty shoddy but I admit they were early games.

Simple enough here: He's on the team.

For those who ask who would have been the better/more valuable pick at 15? Except drafting Prince Amakawhatever (the BPA when the Fins picked), only one or two of the top ranked OTs might have been better picks and, really, they would have been shifted to guard for a year or two. Center is the better value. I am satisfied with the pick. The O-line (as long as Sparano doesn't work too hard to eff it up) is solid and should provide Henne and the RBs with what they need - time and space.

Add a fast RB (DeMarco Murray), a pass catching TE (Virgil Green), and a speed WR (Denarius Moore) in rounds 3, 4 and 5, sign a power back FA (DeAngelo Williams or Ricky) and the offense is darn near complete. If Henne then cannot succeed with a solid OL, and a talented set of skill players, he will have proven the haters (of which I am one) right. If he succeeds (need I say that I doubt this very much?), well, we've then found what we're looking for.

Can't believe anyone would call Pouncey a "reach." He went right around where he was forecast to go and you can be sure some other team would have been quite happy to select him within the next few picks.

Doesn't mean you have to like the pick, but the "reach" stuff is baseless.

hey maurice pouncey will become a free agent before mike and I bet he wouldn't mind coming down to miami and leave cold pittsburg to play with his brother.

he was wearing the hat.


Sinbad does favor the Pouncey brothers. Very funny video for guys over 50 not to get a young woman! LOL.......


dr roberts,

The Browns definitely got a great deal, but if Jones turns out to be a great receiver then the Falcons got a great deal as well.

They may have given up a lot in draft picks, but if you think about it, how many players do they need? They're already one the top teams in the NFC. All they really need is one or a few explosive players - like a WR.

I think it was a smart move. Matt Ryan's contract is going to end at some point, and they surely don't want to lose him because they didn't go get the guys to put them over the top.

They've managed to get themselves in a position where high quantity/average quality is not going to really make them any better, so they went for low quantity/high quality.

I think it's one of those rare trades in the 1st round wherein both teams get a great deal.

was it eisen or mayock who said last night, "don't be getting upset steelers fans. maurkice is just showing his support for his brother." in response to maurkice wearing the dolphins hat.

New Orleans also got a lot better yesterday. Atlanta was/is more than one player away to compete for the superbowl. They first have to win their division.
I wouldn't make that trade. But obviously they thought it was a good deal. I guess their GM didn't learn everything from pioli and bellicheat becuase none of them would have made that trade either

dm1 it was Eisen. I saw that too. It was cool to have them both wear the phins hat

Ireland says draft room rumors teams were trying to trade up ahead of the Dolphins and get Pouncey. He found out were FACT not draft room rumor.


ESPN was wrong about the stay and have changed their story. It is, however, still being considered and an answer will be given this afternoon. Teams rushing to get the playbooks to the players.

If the stay is not granted I don't think the league is allowing player trades for picks for the remainder of the draft. It should be that way but one of the talking heads on NFLNetwork last night said they wouldn't be in the interests of continuity. (But not in the interests of team betterment)

Ithaca, I get that the Falcons feel they're "thisclose" to being a championship team (and they very possibly are) but still feel that was just too much mortgaging of the future for one guy. Jones strikes me as a good player who will certainly add pop to an already good offense, but not Randy Moss-level excitement. Mostly, he'll be a good complement to Roddy White.

We'll see. I get their thinking on it, but the risk of it not leading to a title and leaving Atlanta in a poor drafting position in the aftermath is great, too.

No doubt the Browns are thrilled, though. Perfect deal for a team needing help all over the place.

Ithica Phin Fan...Great post..We are in no situation like the Falcons where we could have even thought about a trade like that(jones trade) The Falcons are a few pieces away from being a REAL contender. We have way to many holes to fill to fall victim to gluttony.

Thanks to Mr Van Halen(Not poking fun) and Mr Dying Breed for the Pouncey Video..Pouncey was a freekin first team All American...He comes from championship pedigree. What else do some of you want. Go read some of the other team pages of contending teams. And see how bummed their fans are that they missed out on Pouncey. Do they know something Phin fans don't? This is a good player. Our team needs good players.

i don't understand the philosophy. yeah, there's no cba but the players want to get to work on the season. if i'm an owner of one of the better teams who has a chance at a superbowl run i'm saying, by all means, let them get ready. these guys may have money but i sometimes wonder about the iq's.

Pouncy would be a Great center, IF he were able to snap the ball!

Summer camp, if there is one, prediction:

Week One: Tony: "we're taking a good look at Puncy at Center. He's really flashed there!"

Week Two: "we've moved Pouncy to LG---no problem at center, but we want to assess his versatility.

Week Three; RG

Week Four: Berger at center, Richie at LG, Pouncy "in the mix."

and don't forget. when you have sinbad for a brother you're doin' alright.

Darryl, well said and agreed.





lets make it a friendly bet of 5 bux? or its your call?

or you can up it as long as you can keep your word?

Dying Breed...

Great Video...Thank You!.. I saw that program when it first came out but its great to revisit and see that the player we chose is going to bring a ton of skill to the table.

I believe once the Courts shot down the lockout everything about Miami's approach to the draft changed. Had the lockout been upheld? I feel Miami would have taken a QB. I feel that everyone including myself realize that those QB’s left by the 15th pick were a serious high risk (yet high reward) answer to the Miami QB dilemma. What likely gave Miami pause at taking that risk was the lockout termination made by the Judge. That decision opened up the Free agent market and will allow Miami to pursue (and I believe land) a Veteran that will come into camp and push Henne for the starting job right away.

I think you must ask yourself, Could any of those QB's remaining at pick #15 (there was no chance to trade down) really have come in and gave a serious challenge to Chad Henne? You may say yes. I would say no way in hell. Not to say that guy could not challenge for a starting position next year or the year after. But not this year, not those guys against a 3 year starting QB. Bringing in a Veteran can, and will challenge Henne. And that is what I feel is best for the team short term. If this regime does not survive next year, A QB will be on the radar anyway and Miami will have a DOMINANT O-line with at least 1 year of experience to place him behind. Once again… Good for now... and good for next year. Lets see how thing end up before kicking the stool out. A Great O-line hides many flaws in a teams skill positions.

SureShockMiami...Sure man.I'll make a bet. I'm not quite sure how to exchange funds. But I am a man of my word..5 bucks.or some thing stupid like I have to begin all of my posts the rest of the weekend with an opening of your choice...What do you think? Your talking about Jones right?

Dr. roberts--great point about how the Patriots Steelers do things versus the Redskins way. The consistent winners in the NFL definitely go for substance over style. They are anything BUT splashy in their approach.

Pretty good vid but as Han Solo once said: Good against remotes is one thing. Good against the living is something else.




The Falcons were the #1 seed in the NFC last year. I know last year is last year, and not this year, but still they've done it.

LOL @ Sinbad...It's like the Phins found Pouncey on Star Search... Sinbad??? That is effed up.

if you watched the interview nfl network did with belichek you have to think the saints and new england had the deal in the works beforehand. he said that sometimes you have teams that you are already talking to concerning a trade possibility and that trade happened pretty fast. maybe ireland is looking at a different way of getting back into the 2nd without giving away the farm. who knows? all i know is i hope he pulls it off somehow and gets some additional picks in the 3rd and the 5th.



yeap dont get me wrong id be happy with the pick for us but i just dont see it happening

but yea man that sounds kool to me

db great video. thanks for posting


you want in on this too lol? ;)

by tonight i'll be making pouncey type money lol


I have no idea what you and DD are betting on.

yea I forgot they won the division but the point is the division is also getting better. Anyway they did what they thought they needed, I'm just gald the phins didn't try and get creative like that.

Hard to see how Miami could acquire a 2nd rounder without the ability to trade any players. They don't have the draft ammo to do it.

Someone here suggested trading our first rounder next year. You can put me down for a definite NO on that one, lol.

I think they'll just have to wait it out until their turn comes up again.

SureShock...I'm down for a bet. Whatever it is. Just a disclaimer. I will not be around for the draft tonight. I have some obligations. So if I were to lose, I will not be around until much later tonight. I do not want anyone to think I'm doddging any lost bet, or agreement. Wanted to get that out there. Rest easy. I will honor whatever we decide. You are only as good as your word...

Dan Halen and Breed,

I agree that video looks awesome!

That heavy bag looks like a future Pro Bowler.

Pouncey, not so much!!!!

A heavy bag and a hole in a piece of plywood? ROTFLMFAO!

Get out of here-LOL!

Thanks though, that's the first time I smiled since last might!


kool man no worries im not sure i'll be on here either


the bet is taiwan goes before or in the 4th? im saying he will go in f4th or later DD says 3rd or earlier

never the less i would love to have him on our team

Only way I see to get back into the 2nd and grab a qb(Kaepernick). Is call up Belichik(1st pick of 2nd rd) and offer this year's 3rd and next year's 3rd.

I believe Belichik's only trying to load up on massive ammo to trade up to go after Luck in 2012 anyway.

Dying..I think the bet is That Tawain Jones will not get picked before round 4. I am on the side he will go round 3, possibly round 2. ShureShock is on the side Jones will not be selected until round 4 or beyond...This is a fair bet.(even though he has more rounds on his side, I believe in my guy)

i don't think you get the point of the video. sparano is going to strap a piece of plywood with a hole in it on henne's torso. lol. just kidding. i thought it was an excellent vid.

Mando I agree with you to a degree. I think that Incognito is an exception, last year he played well no matter where the stuck him. Front 5 should be Long, Jerry, Pouncy, Incognito, and Carey, but who knows. Look at what the Steelers were able to do last year with a beat up line, and the only way they were able to do that is because their guys had "Position Flexibility" And how did things turn out for them?


You're in HUGE trouble. Even if no one else takes Taiwan Jones. Al Davis has picks in both the 2nd and 3rd rds buddy! LOL............

With Jones' blazing speed Al Davis will be having utopian wet dreams my man. I already posted that if Al Davis had a 1st rd pick Taiwann Jones would have been 1st rb taken in this draft! LOL...........

i thought position flexibility is what you look for in a woman.

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