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The curious whirlwind that is the Dolphins O line

Four years. That is how long its taken the Dolphins to build their offensive line.

Four years. That is how long its taken to set what is supposed to be a foundation, a building block to the team.

And we're probably not truly, surely, securely set yet.

Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland have got to be scratching their heads about this one. Building the offensive line has been a priority for the Dolphins since Ireland and Sparano were brought to Miami by Bill Parcells. Parcells believed you lay that foundation with burly, agile, strong, smart, angry linemen and the rest of the team will grow around them.

But this will be the fourth season of this current administration and the line today still comes with serious questions. Yes, still. Despite much free agent cash and draft pick resources and stirring of the roster, and searching for answers. The offensive line which should be an exclamation point remains something of a question mark.


I guess this one goes under the heading of best laid plans not going exactly as planned.

Oh, Jake Long has been excellent. He is a Pro Bowl player every time he steps on the field. He is a rock. But right now the Dolphins are hoping the rock has no cracks. Long will not play in Friday night's preseason opener against Atlanta. He is currently on the physically unable to perform list with what seeems to be a left leg injury. (The team does not have to specify injuries in the preseason and therefore doesn't). Long is rehabilitating that injury daily. But he obviously has not practiced this training camp.

Sparano told me last week the plan with Long is to have him ready for the regular-season opener versus New England. He might even be ready a bit before then, the coach said. That is good news. Even if Long doesn't get a full camp under his belt, even if he is freshly recovered from injury and not fully versed in camp hitting, he'll still be pretty good. Maybe he won't be Pro Bowl caliber until after the bye week, but he'll be good enough.

Jake Long is not the problem as long as he can eventually find his way back onto the field.

So what is the problem?

Let's begin on the other side of the line. The Dolphins have Marc Colombo as their starting right tackle and he isn't being challenged for his job at this point. One supposes Colombo, a former first-round pick of the Chicago Bears, is fully prepared to play well this season because he has Sparano's endorsement.

When a reporter asked the coach about Colombo's struggles in 2010 while with Dallas, Sparano would hear none of it. "I watched the tape," the coach said confidently.

We have a difference of opinion, obviously, because the Cowboys watched the same tape and terminated Colombo's contract.

The tape, according to several metrics websites including ProFootball Focus, show Colombo giving up between seven and nine sacks a season ago, depending on the source.

Maybe there are mitigating reasons for the many sacks. Maybe Colombo was playing hurt. Maybe the Cowboys are making a mistake in letting Colombo leave. But one cannot dismiss the idea that maybe the Dolphins are making a mistake in letting Colombo arrive.

We shall see. That's not the point. The point is this is not a exclamation point solution. There are questions here. We don't know what the answers will be and neither do the Dolphins. For now we have questions at right tackle.

The right guard position is similarly a question mark. The team moved Vernon Carey to right guard because, well, because John Jerry is not living up to expectations right now. If Jerry were a player, he'd be the starter. That's how it's supposed to work when a team uses a third-round pick (73rd overall) on a player they coached in the Senior Bowl.

Let that marinate for a second.

The Dolphins didn't just scout Jerry. They didn't just watch tape of Jerry. They didn't just look at his measurables and talk to him at the Combine. They coached the kid for a week at the Senior Bowl in January of 2010 and really, really liked him. They believed he'd be a player.

He's not a player right now. He's in a fight to make the team.

And he might lose.

And so the Dolphins had to find a Plan B to play right guard. That would be Vernon Carey. I reject the notion Carey was the first option because, as I've written before, GM Jeff Ireland said very specifically at the draft, the team had no intention then to move Carey to guard. I remember this because I asked the question.

But something happened between that answer and training camp's fourth day because the Dolphins felt compelled to move Carey over to cover the void left by Jerry's inability to play well. So now Carey returns to the guard spot where he began his college career -- Carey played guard at the University of Miami.

Moving Carey to guard meant the Dolphins had to basically admit signing him to that six-year, $42 million contract after 2008 was not a terribly sound move. That contract at the time made Carey one of the highest paid right tackles in the NFL. And yes, Carey started at the spot the past two years while under that contract.

But Carey didn't always play up to the wage scale. Last year, offensive coordinator Dan Henning said Carey has the potential to be very good, and some days he is. And some days he's not very good at all. It was a revealing description of an inconsistent player rather than of one making elite player money.

The Dolphins have adjusted Carey's salary. The definition of adjust here means "cut."

So now Carey is cheaper and the Dolphins hope he plays at least to the level of his newly adjusted pay. Will he? I don't know. The Dolphins don't really know. They hope he will. They don't really know. It's a question mark.

Another one.

The Dolphins used their first round selection this season on an offensive lineman -- center Mike Pouncey. I must say, he looks the part. He's a beast. He seems smart so I expect he'll pick up the mental requirements of his position -- which is not easily or quickly done. He seems strong. He seems quick enough.

But lately, the thing that raised a flag about Pouncey in college has shown up during practices. The center snaps and exchange with quarterbacks have not been always clean, especially in recent practices. I don't know if those are on Pouncey or on the quarterback or both. But something questionable is going on. So we'll have to monitor the situation to see if this question gets answered or if it becomes a larger concern. And until the answer comes, what do we have here?

A question mark.

The reason the Dolphins felt compelled to go for a center with their 2011 first round pick? Jake Grove was a high-price free agent bust. The club paid Grove $14 million guaranteed as part of a five-year, $29.5 million contract before the 2009 season.  

Grove came to the Dolphins with an extensive history for getting injured. It was the first thing after the contract details the South Florida media noted when Grove signed. And then Grove came to Miami and kept getting injured. SMH!

Grove was cut in September of 2010. He played a grand total of 12 games for Miami with 10 starts. Amazing, $14 million for 10 starts. Must be nice. Glad it's not my money.

Grove is out of the NFL now. So is Justin Smiley. He retired earlier this week after spending a couple of days in the Oakland Raiders training camp.

Oh, don't worry about Smiley, either. He's not hurting financially because the Dolphins paid him $9 million guaranteed before the 2008 season as part of a five-year, $25 million contract.

Like Grove, Smiley came to the Dolphins with an injury history. And, sure enough, he got injured plenty with the Dolphins. He missed the final four games of 2008 with an injury and then missed four more in 2009 with a problem to the shoulder that had been surgically repaired in 2007.

I reported last year that Smiley told friends he knew that 2007 surgery had not gone quite right because he lost strength in the shoulder he was never really able to regain. The Dolphins traded him to Jacksonville for a box of sneakers and a roll of rusty pennies before last season. Another free agency bust.

The Dolphins signed their offensive line to $154 million in total deals before the 2009 season. Obviously only the guaranteed portion of those deals actually cost ownership out of pocket. But the money spent pales compared to the wasted energy and time invested on solving a problem over and over and over.

At center, Samson Satele, Jake Grove and Joe Berger have not been the answer.

At right tackle, Vernon Carey and Lydon Murtha have not been the answer.

At right guard, John Jerry, Pat McQuistan, DonaldThomas, Nate Garner, nor Ikechuku Ndukwe have been the answer.

At left guard, Justin Smiley, Andy Aleman, Garner, and McQuistan have not been the answer.

Draft picks Shawn Murphy and Andrew Gardner also didn't help and are no longer with the team.

When you really think about it, the best move the Dolphins have made on the offensive line -- all things considered including price paid, or draft compensation invested -- has been Richie Incognito.

He came to the Dolphins last year after washing out of a couple of college programs because of anger issues. He came after washing out in St. Louis and Buffalo. He came as a free agent so he cost no draft compensation. He played for near minimum salary last year on a one-year tryout.

He started all 16 games, with 15 of those at left guard and one at center. He played well enough to earn a new contract for this season and beyond and he's anchored as the starter at left guard again. Because he's played center, I'm assuming he'll help Pouncey.

Think about this, NFL: Richie Incognito is the most stabilizing force on the Dolphins offensive line right now.

Talk about plans not going as they had been laid.

[Blog note: There will be a live blog of the Dolphins versus Atlanta preseason opener Friday night. Please come here for that. Also, kindly follow me on twitter.]


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Damn it!!...I can't believe we didn't draft Brian Hoyer! He was 15 of 21 for 171 yards and a score last night. What was this front office thinking? How could they let this guy get past them? They really can't evaluate talent....WOW!!

Sam, I am dont talking with you, so stay away from my posts at this point, just letting you know.

You think you know it all, you dont.

You and your buddy Joe, will twist words around to attack and make insults to others here. All the power to ya. I don't feel like dealing with it.

I am from MA, Bledsoe was not even healthy the start of the following year. And Brady fit into the system well enough that they did not need to over pay Bledsoe.

So before you think you know more about the Pats, please realizze I have to read and hear about them everyday, they are in the news all day. And almost everyone here sees the system as helping make brady successful.. Then his confidence made him even better.

I know I know, call me a few more names, or throw me another insult to try and make you more right...

what ever floats your boat. Sammie .


I beg to differ. Bush made Brees even more dangerous. Bush had to be accounted for every play he was in on offense. He was an attention getter.

Bush's problem in New Orleans wasnt effectiveness, it was durability. The Saints weigh durability over huge salary in thier decision to move forward without Bush.

It unquestionably wasnt performance when he was healthy that played into thier decision. It was how often was he healthy and $$$ that caused the relationship to split.

Still, $10 million for 2yrs($5million a yr) makes Bush a reasonable bargain. Should he finally remain healthy over a 16 game stretch his name could be in the top 5 conversation of league mvp. That would make the paltry sum of $5million a yr for him a complete steal.

There isnt a defensive coordinator in this league that would like to see Reggie Bush healthy for a 16 game season. LOL...

the fo is just repeating their mistakes with bush. grove, smiley, bush. do they magically think bush will stay healthy? he hasn't played a full season since is rookie year.

"Not comparing Chad Henne to Joe Motana but consider this:...."

Posted by: DyingBreed

Then what, exactly, are you doing?

Reggie Bush doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of notching about 10 TD's off of 64 short receptions when his QB is incapable of stretching the field with deep throws, passes off of scrambles and/or moving the chains with his feet, as Montana could.

As you alluded to, Joe Montana ran a west coast offense that was predicated on short throws that were considered to be just as effective as "runs". You might also want to note that Montana, before acquring the services of Rice and Taylor, won a Super Bowl.

Do people take Ambien before they get on this blog?

And slate if vy was throwing to him Howuch more effective could he be.

dyingbreed, likewise have to acknowledge brees made bush better because defenses knew brees was a dangerious passer. henne is a pot luck passer.

Drew Brees and the Saints offense seemed to put points on the board with far greater efficiency when Bush was in the game than when he wasnt. Seems with a healthy Bush in thier offense, Brees was nearly indefensible.

Brees is a tough enough opponent without Bush. But with Bush you prayed to hold them right at 30pts a game. Hoping you could win that game 31-30! LOL...


hung up on vy i see! bush would be far more dangerous with a highly mobile qb like vy for defenses having to account for too. henne is a statue. no dc even thinks about him, probably don't even know his name.

there is no rational argument against the fact vy is a far bigger headache for dc's to deal with than henne. anyone even arguing that is just biased against vy or for henne.

Guys, and you know who you are:

Dyingbreed will not be responding to deranged uneducated post today. I have been instructed to do so by your shrinks.

Your shrinks advised me though you are making "some" progress from your former "very grave" conditions. Your shrinks advised me that youre not quite there yet.

Though you do seem to be here, your shrinks have highly advised me that youre not quite "ALL THERE" yet! LOL...

"I am from MA, Bledsoe was not even healthy the start of the following year. And Brady fit into the system well enough that they did not need to over pay Bledsoe."

Posted by: Poizen

You are either dumb, a liar or both, Poizen.

Bledsoe was healthy and in uniform for the Super Bowl that BRADY won for the Pats THE SAME SEASON in which Bledsoe suffered the chest injury. In fact, Bledsoe played in the AFC Championship game against Pitt when Brady was banged up.

Think, Poizen, think.

No need to answer, DyingBreed. You made an honest mistake. :-)

I have more common sense then Ireland/Sparano put together. When Grove and Smilley were signed I was concerned about their injuries, but I had faith in I&S. Now i know better. Instead of Colombo why didnt I & S sign McKinnie, he's rated much higher then Colombo and he's STILL a free agent. Left tackles can play right tackle. Its called talent which McKinnie has or common sense which I & S doesnt have.

bush couldn't do much having Brees at QB, not realistic to expect he will be better with Henne.

slate | August 12, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Your reasoning is flawed, the Saints employ alot of 3 and 4 WR set with arguably the deepest and most talented group in the league outside of G.B. In there O if you`ve seen them at all you would know that Brees rarely if ever checked down to his RB`s after the WR his 1st checkdown was always to his TE in that O unless there running a draw or something the RB is an after thought when all else fails. It`s how they catch Indy sleeping in the SB to start the 2nd half running screens to Pierre Thomas and swinging that game.

I heard Murtha is playing well at LT ,when Jake comes back move Murtha to Rt.
sign L Davis

Hey Armando
Did you catch Ryan Mallet last night? Another blown opportunity by this bone head management team.

Kudos to you, Armando! This is an outstanding article.

On paper, we may have improved but I expect the offense to start slow and struggle for the first half of the season since they have new personnel, another new OLine and a complex playbook. Rightfully or not, Henne will continue to get booed. Fans, who are already frustrated, will go on a verbal rampage. This is going to be one heckuva tough season for Sparano and Ireland.

But I also expect defense to shine and Nolan will be the quiet savior who'll keep us in the game. Daboll has a chance to be a hero too - depending on how good his game calling will be. Nobody wants another whiff of Henning's conservative play calling.

I, like many others, expect another 8-8,7-9,or 9-7 season. The question is: what will Ross do about it?


"I am from MA, Bledsoe was not even healthy the start of the following year. And Brady fit into the system well enough that they did not need to over pay Bledsoe."

Posted by: Poizen

You are either dumb, a liar or both, Poizen.

Bledsoe was healthy and in uniform for the Super Bowl that BRADY won for the Pats THE SAME SEASON in which Bledsoe suffered the chest injury. In fact, Bledsoe played in the AFC Championship game against Pitt when Brady was banged up.

Think, Poizen, think.

Seminole Sam | August 12, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Bledsoe was healthy and in uniform by Play-off time that season. If you remember Brady got hurt in the AFC Championship game vs. Pitt. (week after tuck game) and Bledsoe came of the bench to win a tight game leading to debate as to who Belichik would start in the SB. Controversy he nips in the bud quick by staying with Brady. The following year he was traded to Buffalo were he started every game including an absolute 38-14 beatdown of N.E. with Lawyer Milloy as well in Buff. at SS.


Touche. You can argue it either way. My concern isn't for the success of NE. It's for the failure of the Dolphins. You can't win a SB in this league without a good, pro bowl caliber QB. And this regime insists on winning by running the ball. This style of offense has been outdated since Bill Walsh introduced the pass first west coast offense, an offense which many teams still run today. So instead of picking Mallett, they take an offensive lineman with the first pick (still taking linemen after 4 years!!!! as Mando says), and trade up to get a RB. One they like so much they traded for Reggie Bush. As long as this regime continues with their antiquated run first bull, the fins will be mediocre at best. Their philosophy sucks. Any they draft and sign free agents to compliment their antiquated philosophy. Unless Henne has a breakout year, I don't think he will, since he hasn't shown anything that testifies to it, the Dolphins will be no better than 6-10 this year. I hope it's enough to get Sparano/Ireland out of here and replaced with someone that knows how to build and run an offense that can win in today's NFL.

Dragonfly. Because common sense says a man over 400 lbs can't play well in the NFL. We are not in EA.


Greatest thing about the Saints offense with a healthy Reggie Bush was he had to be accounted for whether he had the ball in his hands or not. Even if he didnt get the ball it took at least one defender out of the play. Making life a little easier for other playmakers in thier offense.

Some just dont understand that a player of Bush's calibre is still effective even if he doesnt have the ball in his hands during the game. Even the threat of what he can do keeps dc's up late at nights.


Excellent well thought out post as always.

The OL quandry is the most perplexing issue of this administration, but it's not all lost, either.

There are questions, sure, but it might all come together. I don't think Colombo is going to be part of the solution, though.


Where I expect to see the greatest impact a healthy Reggie Bush has in helping Chad Henne is in the "redzone." Bush is a dual redzone threat becoming like having an extra wr in the game. Plus given a run crease he can take it all the way to the house.

Bush will make life a lot easier in the pass game for other recievers when utilized in the pass game. If nothing else he'll force himself to be accounted for.

As you alluded to, Joe Montana ran a west coast offense that was predicated on short throws that were considered to be just as effective as "runs". You might also want to note that Montana, before acquring the services of Rice and Taylor, won a Super Bowl.

Do people take Ambien before they get on this blog?

Seminole Sam | August 12, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Montana won a SB in 1980 without Rice, Taylor or Craig but he did have players that fit there scheme in Wendell Tyler (rb) Fredddie Solomon and D.Clarck at WR with H-Back Greg Cooper. In 84 of the 3 he only had Craig, what`s your point. Even when those players came on board there West Coast System asked for players to run inside slants and Montana make the hot read, rarely did they go over the top as you mention. The Dophins will need to at least try and stretch the field to pull the Saftey`s back and if successfull Bush can indeed be a lethal threat from the slot and out of the backfield as a reciever.

Love the comments, but, Henne UNDER RATED, are you smoking CRACK ? We have had THREE YEARS of CHECKDOWN CHAD when he gets rattled, I don't see him UNDER RATED, maybe OVER RATED by this crappy regime ? What say YOU ?

Posted by: Nick | August 12, 2011 at 11:37 AM


Are you smoking crack? You and everyone else here has been hammering away at how horriffic the O-line has been since the o-line genius SpOranus arrived. With good reason, I'll give you that, I agree. Jake Long aside, the O-line ain't worth a puke 3 years and running now.

Here's the thing you crack addicts seem to miss. How can you fairly assess any of the offensive skill position players with:

A. A complete rag tag bunch of offensive lineman wanna be's?

B. A 155 year old dated playbook geared towards running the ball 80% of the time.

While I don't expect Henne will ever be Tom Brady, I can, in all confidence tell you that Tom Brady could never be Tom Brady operating behind this o-line with Hennings playbook.

I can't tell you that Henne will ever make it in the NFL, but the simple fact is, with our system and shuffling O-line of the past three years, not many could.

If Henne plays well tonight:

1. The Henne fans will grind the naysayers
2. The naysayers will say it's only exhibition, means nothing.

If Henne does not play well tonight:

1. The naysayers fans will grind the Henne supporters.
2. The Henne supporters will say it's only exhibition, means nothing.


Im not as concerned about the pass blocking this season as many of you. Seems DaBoll will rollout a more "quick tempo" passing attack. Meaning the oline isnt forced to hold thier blocks as long. No one doubts Colombo's ability as a run blocker.

Also a lot depends on if can consistently get and maintain leads of 7pts or more. Meaning those right defensive ends going against Colombo has to honor both the pass and run. Colombo only really becomes a liability if we're playing catchup, have to pass, and the defense knows we have to pass. Hopefully those type of games will be few and far in between.

DB @12:23,

Excellent Point!!! You can line up Bush in the slot bring in Gates wide and spread out the D and maybe run some draw. Very good point about the possibilities of simply using him as a decoy can bring to a D as well!!

DB @12:23

Uh yeah, right, but Armando had a whole blog on that very point right after we signed him saying everything you just said. At least credit your sources.

This FO doesn't like to take risks on players with "character issues", but they don't mind injury problems-wow.

Then they compound that with the one thing that drives most of us absolutely crazy- they pass up better players in favor of COWBOYS REJECTS! ARGH!

C'mon man......... ARmando doesn't NAME HIS SOURCES,AND NEITHER DB .......... IT'S ALL COMING FROM SOME WHERE ON THE INTERNET ...........


Can anyone says Howard Schnellenberger for 2012 Coach Next Year !

FINFANS72..................... YOU R AN EXAMPLE OF AN EDUCATED FAN .GOOD POST @ 12;43 PM .


I'm still catching up:


Posted by: fin4life | August 12, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Fin, I was going to post this same exact thing today. You beat me to it.

Ironically, I had the same concern as I read Tony's words about Colombo. I don't know a whole lot about either, but thanks to you I'd take Willis hands down!

Tony has made these same mistakes over and over with the o-line. Not just mistakes in judging an O-linemans talent levels, but where to actually plug him into our scheme. It's fvcking maddening.

I know I'm going to sound like duMMas blow hard with this, but I'll say it anyways:

I GUARANTEE you, with the same players that Tony has had to work with on the O-line over the past three years, I believe this with all my heart, I GUARANTEE that I could have done A LOT BETTER JOB!

(And I'm just a washed up old drunken Viking!)


1980 the San Francisco 49ers finished 6-10. Steve DeBerg and Montana both started games.

You are right that the 49ers won a SB without Craig but it was the 1982 season. Still that team had 5 guys that made 1st team all pro, 4 on defense and 1 on offense.

No the one guy on offense that made 1st team all-pro wasnt Montana. It was Dwight Clark.

You made up with DB today-nice.

1980 ...MY GOD...I WAS BORN 1991

Didn't see you here last night- did you see Aloco's post about Oprah's breast milk?

If not, check it out. CLassic!

Come'on Man,

Guess you missed my earlier post:

Guys, and you know who you are: Dyingbreed will not be responding to deranged uneducated post today. I have been instructed to do so by your shrinks. Your shrinks advised me though you are making "some" progress from your former "very grave" conditions. Your shrinks advised me that youre not quite there yet. Though you do seem to be here, your shrinks have highly advised me that youre not quite "ALL THERE" yet! LOL...


Here is Armandos post, you can backtrack it:

Reggie Bush is about more than statistics
July 28, 2011

Stay tuned I have a speach I am just finishing up to share...its starts off "I have a dream....", I think it will be a hit.

fin72 @12:43

Very good point as well and barring at least a 9-7 Season with marked improvement on the Offensive side of the ball will lead to the end of this regime at years end. By the way thanks for the shout out earlier Bro!!

Hearing all these nostalgic stories I have no alternative to go back to Shula and the Perfect Season. After Griese went down(I believe in the 4th game), Earl Morrall(and Shula) led us undefeated up to the SB. However, for the Big Game, Shula(not being a deep thinker himself) chose the physically unimposing Griese to start the Game. I wonder why?

Danny Boy was no rocket Scientist but, boy, could he throw that Ball!

odin @12:47,

I don`t doubt you or me could have done a better job, we also could have taken the same post with Dallas he had and with that group sent guys to the Pro Bowl as well. He`s a fraud and given his inabiity to work with what he has will find himself unemployed anything short of 9-7 gets him canned

Geg Kote, the greatest doom and gloomer on the entire Herald staff is even changing his ways regarding our 2011 season. Read this:





For me, the Perfect QB would be a combination of Griese's smarts and Marino's arm. Yes? No?


I guess Im getting old, and it helps. I dont even remember what I had dinner yesterday! LOL...

Shula had both; unfortunately, not at the same Time.(Man, is Shula "lucky", he also had a third!).


Bernie Kosar himself has put a good word in for Daboll's new offense.

On Armando's show he said:
Bernie Kosar says on Armando and the Amigo biggest difference btween Daboll & Henning system is emphasis on going vertical.

I keep hearing it, hopefully after tonight, we can all start BELIEVING IT!


The perfect team would be a combination of Marino, throw in Duper or Clayton along side of Warfield, a early 70's oline w/Dwight Stephenson and Jake Long, and a bend but dont break styled no name defense except adding Jason Taylor, Surtain and Madison.

If we're gonna dream why not dream big! LOL...

The Griese/Morrall decision in the SB turned out well. With the running game we had, it probably didn't matter. We'd have won with either QB that day.

But a QB with Griese's mind and Marino's arm? WOW...that would be something!

would've expected, sparano being originally an OL coach, this should have been the strength of the team all along.

And yeah, I lived in Redskin country during younger days in the 80s', and apart from Thiesmann, Coach Gibbs won his superbowls with journeymen QBs and RBs playing behind the Hogs. Made Timmy Smith one of the greatest Superbowl RB EVER. Timmy Who??

The only team that gave him trouble the parcells and the Giants.

He who expects More is set up for disappointment.

The most ignorant thing I hear people say about Henne is the Checkdown Chad moniker.

Tom Brady is the best Checkdown Charlie their is. You know what makes him so good at it?

Wes Welker!

It works for Brady............oh yeah, and I hate Cam CamoRon!

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