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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.

Period.

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.

No!

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 CANNOT BELIEVE LORD PELICAN IS STILL AVAILABLE!! THE DOLPHINS AND THE ENTIRE NFL ARE FOOLS! I HOPE LORD PELICAN SIGNS WITH THE EDMONTON ESKIMOS JUST TO SHOW EVERYONE THE ERROR OF THEIR WAYS!!!

db,

that would be crazy if the pats do that

but i could also see him being next years locker

his accuracy is way better but if has a bad year cuz of the change of coaching or not enough talent around him he might drop slightly from #1 you never know know-a-days

Unless Miami can use THIS years picks... I say let the damned 2nd round go and be done with it. We need to make the last payment on the Marshall deal and stop pushing it and pushing it while we pay interest in picks and worry about having no 2nd rounder every year. Pay the damn pick off and starting thinking about Round 3. I want next years draft to be 100% free and clear of ALL debt from trades or anything else. If you need to know who we chose in the second round this year? His name is Brandon “please don't stab me again, baby" Marshall and he is a top 10 WR in the NFL... We have already gotten 1000+ yards out of him and he will be much more healthy and strong this year then last... Live with it and lets move on from the Marshall deal once and for all! No more interest on a 2 year old deal… pay it off and be done….

Right now Atlanta is clicking it’s heals in joy…. Wait till those fans start having to pay the piper. Particularly if Jones is not the “Last Piece” that Dave Wannstedt tried to convince us about for 4 years! It will be whinin’ time in the Dirty Dirty ATL…

DD,

SURESHOCKMIAMI HAS FORGOTTEN ALL ABOUT AL DAVIS IS STILL ALIVE.

ONLY REASON TAIWAN JONES DIDNT GO 1ST RD IS BECAUSE AL DAVIS DIDNT HAVE A 1ST RD PICK. OTHERWISE HE WOULD HAVE BEEN DRAFTED 17TH AND FIRST 2011 RB OFF THE BOARD! LOL..........

lmao damm didnt think of that one -friggin' Al Davis.. dude just wont quit lol

DD,

I'm not in on the bet but I believe Jones will go fourth round or later (probably 4th). there are still some good backs on the table that I would have ahead of him. I count about 5-6 backs I would still pick ahead of him.

Consider me in on a gentleman's bet....OK?

if mallet is around for oakland's pick he becomes a raida.

i dont think he got to meet with the raiders so keep my fingers crossed

Wondering what the chances Ireland will try and trade back into the second this year. We could offer our third and something else. Teams might go for that. Maybe target a team who needs picks....someone like Washington maybe? I think they and maybe San Diego have two second round picks. I believe Denver does too but it might be hard to get them to move.

Great article Armando.. That's what is wrong with the Special team and the Offensive line, is a revolving door week in and week out, and the strange thing is that that's the two weakest link on the entire football team.
Now you know how I feel about Ireland and Sparano running the football operation , is like a blind man leading a blind man !!!

Derek, agreed. B. Marshall IS our 2nd rounder, and you can throw (a hopefully healthy) Odrick in that mix as well. No reason to give up something stupid just to reacquire a 2nd this year.

Like you, I want ALL those picks next year...and hopefully some extra ones ala Pats.

SureShockMiami,

Belichik traded his late 1st rd'er already. Has two 2nds and I believe he trades one of those too. Belichik saving his ammo to try and shoot down Andrew Luck in 2012.

Perfect scenario. Andrew Luck can sit behind Brady for 3 years and become the next Aaron Rodgers!

i really think its going to be dj in the third for some reason

craig,
is there a team like the pats that needs more picks in 2012? maybe someone like that would be interested in taking one of our picks from next year. if we could get someone like ryan williams, jernigan or cobb who could help the team i would be all for trading our 2nd next year for a 2nd this year. maybe denver.

I love the idea of the competition between Pouncey an Soliai.

Very good pick.

Go Phins!!!

definitely if matt cassel succeeded there imagine luck

SureshockMiami,

Al Davis doesnt meet players. He reads 40 times then drafts them! LOL.........

Al Davis will stick to his visionary formula.

He's going to select an Italian Greyhound (named "Mr. Sparky") for his breathtaking speed and leaping ability.

I think the Carolina Panthers will have the first pick again next year. They could ask for a bounty for Luck or maybe they find some suckers to pay up and take Newton. The Panthers have adopted the approach some guys on here want us to take...keep drafting a first round QB until you find a franchise QB...fan be damned!!....buy the product!

al davis doesn't meet players because he is in cryogenic stasis.

Saturdy?

Mawae?

Pouncey is a guard. Except for the year he struggled and muffed snaps. I'm sur ehe's improved though, have you guys seen how he snaps the ball to that piece of plywood? Outstanding.

Big Reach-Period.

Prince would have been better value and filled a need. Unless yopu want to count on Allen's attempted comeback or the Runt from Minnesota. This is a passing league and Davis and Smith can't cover everyone.

DE/SOLB Cameron would have been better value and filled a need. Remember were considering musical chairs with the LB's this year. Misi or Edds to Chowders spot.

Solder and/or Carimi would have been better value and filled a need. Carey is an aging turnstyle and graded out as one of the worst starting right tackle in the league.

So, don't say it was the right move or the only move. Don't say it was a safe move either, otherwise Armando and everyone else wouldn't be talking about position flexibility of where he MIGHT end up playing.

It is what it is, a major reach on a transitional G/C with the 15th overall pick.

we can forget about our second rounder this year we're stuck unless someone wnats 3 7th roud picks lol

phins78,

POUNCEY AND SOLIAI CAN MAKE EACH OTHER BETTER. GREAT THOUGHT!

al davis is a joke in my book well at least right now way passed his prime and even in his prime he was picking kickers in the 1st lol

im not sure if oakland is going to be sad or throw a party when he steps down

dm1, it's true. They're attaching the battery cables to Davis' cryogenically preserved head at this very moment. Gonna be another draft bonanza in Oakland.

Dying Breed...

First of all, I agree that Belechick is looking at Luck and licking his smug chops. Here is the thing, As a Football team; the only way you are going to end up picking first is because you suck. And chances are you suck because your QB sucks. I believe a teams fans would burn the stadium if their team sold out on getting Andrew Luck for a bunch of "Hope So's"

Luck is about as close to a sure bet as a franchise QB as you are ever going to find. I don't think ANYONE is going to buy him... at any price. If the team sold him to New England after NE just had one of the best runs ever behind Tom Brady at QB... I believe the rest of the league would HELP burn the stadium...


It’s a cool idea... But Luck will go #1 to whoever is luck/unlucky enough to "Suck for Luck"...

tryin to stay positive...lol

odin you seem really mad. I suggest you not watch football for a year until this FO is gone. Its probably better for your health :-)

DC @ 1:56 pm....

I would have taken Mallett...and i'll tell you why....

We are probably not a playoff team next year.....Henne seems to be a win one lose one kinda guy.....

We need a player to play the QB postion with consistency.....Mallett didn't need to start day 1.....He could learn for a season or half a season.....

I am not concerned with Coach Tony's or Jeff Ireland's job security (which just got less secure imo)....I am concerned with bringing the FINS back to respectablity....and that doesn't happen when the only holes you fill YEAR AFTER YEAR is the OL.....let me guess....we will draft a QB in the 3rd....and a LB in the fourth....you wanna bet.....we've seen this story the past 3 years.....

The Parcell's plan is DEAD....PERIOD...lol

But still we will continue to use it as a blue print as if it just win a SB 2 years ago...as oppossed to 21 years ago.....

Phins78,

IF POUNCEY THROWS SOLIAI AROUND LIKE A RAG DOLL THIS SUMMER. THEN WE'LL KNOW VERY EARLY IF WE BLEW $11 MILLION THIS OFFSEASON.

IF VICE VERSA HAPPENS WE KNOW VERY EARLY IF WE WASTED THE #1 PICK.

IF BOTH TAKE TURNS EQUALLY THROWING EACH OTHER AROUND LIKE RAG DOLLS. THEN WE'LL KNOW VERY EARLY THAT IN BOTH WE'RE ONTO SOMETHING GREAT!

Its going to be fun to watch.

Armando, GREAT Article!!! Sporano needs to put together an Offensive Line by Preseason Game One and LEAVE them alone. Last year his mix and match right up to the first regular season game hurt this team. The line couldn't jell and went into game 1 still trying to get together. Set em and Leave em.

D4D,

DONT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF EXTREME GREED. THINK ABOUT IT.

BELICHIK, ALREADY HAVING A LOADED ROSTER, CAN AFFORD TO OFFER 2 1ST, 2NDS, AND TWO 2RDS FOR THE #1 OVERALL PICK. THATS A VERY ENTICING OFFER FOR ANYONE NEEDING NEARLY EVERYTHING LIKE A TEAM THAT WILL QUALIFY TO HAVE THE #1 OVERALL PICK.

PLUS BY NOT HAVING TO SERVE UP ANY FUTURE PICKS BELICHIK STILL HAS ALL OF HIS FUTURE PICKS TO BOOT.

THE OFFER I SUGGESTED ABOVE MAY BE AN OFFER TO GOOD TO REFUSE FOR A STRUGGLING TEAM.

So next year since we need a RT that's going to be next years first round pick! Look you can build the best o-line in the history of the NFL and if you don't have a QB and a vertical passing game we will be mediocre, this great game of football has change the rule point out to have a high scoring opportunity's and we want to build a power running game, that's why we are going to see 8 man fronts again and the coach staff is going to say we need to continue working on our offensive line, do anyone think that's this staff understand that it's a passing league!!
The powerful running games are not it use to be, it's about down field play but we will see get ready again folks to boring football!!!
We don't have a vertical passing game!!
So hopefully when this staff wakeup and realize thats the new era we'll see the same
S h I t different players!!

The Panthers will be last again in 2011. they'll get buried in that division where all the teams are much better than they are. I can't believe they will have any need for Luck next year after drafting Newton first this year and Claussen in the second round last year. Luck will go to the highest bidder next year...or he'll run like Hell and return to school for one more year. Luck could command a nice bounty and Belichik will have the pieces to trade them. We're going to be faced with ANOTHER star quraterback in our divsion for the next 10-12 years. Get out now while you can guys.....

YESTERDAY WAS EVIDENCE BELICHIK REALLY DOESNT WANT TO USE HIS EXTRA PICKS. HE WANTS TO TRADE OUT AND STOCKPILE FOR A 2012 RUN AT ANDREW LUCK.

THEN HAVE HIM SIT 3 SEASONS BEHIND BRADY AND HAVE HIM BECOME THE NEXT AARON RODGERS!

d4d

especially if carolina has the 1st pick in the draft

hate to say it but unless we make some major moves in free agency we might have the 1st pick again

IF CAROLINA HAS TOP OVERALL PICK NEXT SEASON THEY ARE THE BEST CANDIDATE TO ACCEPT BELICHIKS OFFER. THEY ARENT GOING TO GIVE UP ON NEWTON AFTER ONLY ONE SEASON AS THEY DID CLAUSEN

If all the Henne haters are right aboout Henne, we can pick up a free agent QB this year and he'll have great success behind our line. According to lots of guys on here Henne is the worst starter in the league....will never start another game in this league for us....

By the way.....where is Bill Connors?....anybody seen him?

Sureshock,

That would be great too because no matter what Belichik offers we are not giving up Andrew Luck. He'll have a playbook as soon as the bowl game ends! LOL...........

DB...

I can see and understand your point, just don't see it as a reality. If anything, Belechick is pragmatic. You give up that much on one player and he goes down with a blown out knee or another season/career ending injury and you have buried your team.

One place I can see it happening is from a team who is already set at QB and who needs other pieces.

It will be fun to see played out... But I don't feel it will ever happen.

yeap lol only time will tell

D4D,

Lets agree to talk more on that subject this time next season. Deal?

Thats it!

I can't take it no more.

I'll die a Dolphin fan, but I'm not coming back to this blog or the Herald until Ireland and SpOrano are gone.

The next headline I read here and the next blog I participate in will be about our new FO and coaches!

Until then Mi Amigos, I'm outta here!

(picture the little cry baby kid taking his ball and going home)

ValHalla!!!!

Armando Salguero, I'm going with you again on this one 100%! Mike Pouncey better be our CENTER and that's it!!! Welcome Mike! Go Miami!

I'm with DB on this one. I think this is what Belichik has in mind. If he were to land Luck he'd be set at the quarterback position for the next 10-12 years. I think that's excatly what he's planning. He's already a Hall of Famer but he could ride Luck for a few more years and then sail of into the sunset. Panthers would have no need for Luck but could replenish the team with multiple picks. this could be the 'Herschel Walker trade of the new millenium'....

VON MILLER WITH THE NERD GLASSES. LOOKS LIKE HE CAN GIVE YOU THE ANATOMICAL DESCRIPTION AND BIOLOGICAL COMPONENTS OF EACH BODILY LIMB WHILE HE VIOLENTLY RIPS THEM AWAY FROM YOU WITHOUT PAIN KILLERS. EXTREMELY SCARY! LOL.................

Mando-I usually don't agree with anything you post-However I must say-I TOTALLY AGREE WITH EVERY WORD YOU POSTED. WELL DONE!!!!

CraigM,

Belichik loading up to get Luck makes sense because his roster is already pretty much loaded. If he used all of the picks himself he'll end of discarding valuable talent he already has.

Loading up on picks truly had a method to the madness with the "evil" dark hooded one. LOL...........

Von Miller looks like he can rip you from limb to limb and give scientific and medical explanation of each blood curdling act! LOL...........

Best Article I have read yet. I have been saying the same thing to myself the past year. Why so much mixing and matching and experimenting when we are missing the playoffs (2) straight years?

The only thing I might add: keep an eye on Matt Light of the Patriots. If he becomes a Free Agent, ask ourselves if he might be a better Left Guard than John Jerry. I know he played Left Tackle for Bill in Foxboro, but he was not very good at it, hence they drafted his LT replacement Thursday night in

DB,
he may just be able to do that. he is a college graditate.

then we will be ready for new england because we are the unluckiest team in the nfl.

I have to agree that Tony Sparano scares me. Being a former offensive line coach or whatever, he seems to have a habit of over-managing the offensive line of Miami. A couple years back, Miami had a great O-Line and he destroyed it before the year was half over! Tony, you're the HEADCOACH! Please leave the offensive-line coach up to your offensive-line coach! Please!

Hasn't anyone figured it out yet....with the first pick of the 2012 draft, the Miami Dolphins select Andrew Luck. I like Pouncey, but we seem to never shift out of neutral no matter who is calling the shots. We are becoming the Cubs of the NFL!

You nailed it Mondo! I'm sick of all the Sparano O-Line puzzles. Our O-Line manipultions last season epitomized the coaching staffs philosophy-Indecisive! AND it filtered throughout the team!

Ruh Roh Rhaggy! The rumors are flying around now! NFL Live talking about Reggie Bush being done in New Orleans and going to a team that needs a runningback, like Miami!

Craig, I'm pretty content (I wouldn't say thrilled, but content). I predicted Pouncey, I'm ok with Pouncey. I'm happy Ingram didn't stay in the division (so that every time he scored on us you wouldn't blame it on me), and yes, I think the Saints really stretched to get him. But they can, they're team is almost set.

We, on the other hand, have LOTS of holes to fill. And we couldn't afford (IMO) to get Ingram in the 1st and then some scrub olineman in the 3rd. This way is much better, there WILL be RB talent in the 3rd, and then we'll fill multiple holes with this draft. I wish we could have moved back to pick up the 2nd, but such is life.

Also, I think Ireland saw how the NFL is opening up, and by Monday we should have free agency, so the QB and other position situations can be resolved through FA (and sooner than we expected). Things are slowly coming together. I just hope those players that were hurt last year on defense step up and earn their keep this year.

dave, please explain how exactly we should do that? Are you saying we'll be the worst team in the league this year? Because I will bet you any amount of money we won't be. I doubt we'll be in the bottom 10 to be honest. So that means you'd like to sell the farm to move up to the #1 position. Do you know how much money, how many players and how many 1st-round draft picks we'll have to give for that? I'm talking in the 3-5 range at the very least.

So, dave, do you really think this FO will do that? Do you think ANY FO will do that? While I'd be thrilled to get Luck, I think you're fantasizing a bit too much and not thinking things through realistically.

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