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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.

Why?

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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DB @12:47,

I may have been off on the year but so were you because they played Cinncinati in that SB. The year we lost the greatest game ever played to S.D. in 1981. and S.D. lost the coldest game ever played to Cinncinati in the AFC Champ game, by the way that was SB 16 because we played Wash. in 82 (SB-17) strike shortened season.

You got the point of what I meant on the post though, always enjoy discussing NFL history with you. Ever notice how you and me always go there?? I enjoy it because you keep me on my toes regarding the facts, always fun Bro.

Unless I`m mistaken after giving it some thought wasn`t the 1980 SB the last of the 70`s Steeler dynasty vs. L.A. Rams, by the way Rams RB was Wendell Tyler who gets traded to S.F. and wins it with them. Do you remember the back up RB in L.A., WAIT FOR IT, John Cappiletti, there`s a name out of the past for ya Bro!!

odinseye,

What I have noticed from practice reports is the number of times the ball is seeming to be thrown into the endzone starting at the 20yd line(redzone). In Henne's offense there seemed to be much more checkdown passing outside of the endzone in redzone situations. Making the fist pump the popular unpopular in the city of Miami! LOL...

Man -o- Man!

DB and Fin4life must some OLD farts!

I can't see s-it. Have to order some computer glasses.

Just kidding with you two.

I actually love it when you go all nostalgic.

You guys do know your NFL history!

The third Johnny U


Making the fist pump the popular unpopular in the city of Miami! LOL...

Posted by: DyingBreed | August 12, 2011 at 01:13 PM


Quote of the DAY!

PS: I thought the same thing about camp reports. I think it's promising. Between the thirty yards lines we were pretty good last year.

Now Daboll comes in and seems to be putting an emphasis on scoring in the redzone!

I like what I'm hearing so far!

fin4,

1982: 'The Catch' and first Super Bowl championship'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_49ers#1982:_.27The_Catch.27_and_first_Super_Bowl_championship.

You maybe correct about about the 1981 season. But the strange thing about SB is that they are officially listed one year ahead. Just like 1972 we had the undefeated season but are officially listed as 1973 champions.

Strange how that happens isnt it? LOL...

Fin,

I loved Wendall Tyler. Came out of UCLA I think.

Did his running style remind you of Mercury Morris at all?

odin @1:20

DITTO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As of tonight, around 7:30PM, Nostalgia will go by the wayside.

Why is everyone saying they'll take Griese mind and Marino arm. What was wrong with Marino brain? Someone inform me please. Marino was 50 times better than Griese.

odinseye,

You havent seen an old fart until you follow after me in a Walmarts shopping isle. Man, when Im in Walmarts I can rip some buggers that will make your nose fall from your face.

For your sake, I hope you never meet this "old fart" in Walmart! LOL...

DataJack, I think we are on the same page with the last post, truth is Henne needs a breakout season or it is done here in Miami. I agree there. Just hope the O-line holds up.

Fin4, thanks for jumpin in the discussion, as I am done with Sam.

The Bledsoe/Brady thing was huge here during that time. Nothing you said there was false, That was Black and White. The Grey was, and it was debated on ESPN and local papers radio shows ect... Was, Is Bledsoe really OK? they were terrified he would take another bonehead hit. Belicheck and the O, made a short dink and dunk pass game that was incredibly effective with Brady once Bledsoe was out. Once that finsihed out, Belicheck went with the less expensive option because it did not miss a beat the follow ing year.

what probed that discussion was the comment that Brady made the Pats, and I simply pointed out, that not just I but almost all the fans here in New England of the Patriots, and writers... that the system helped create the Tom Brady we have today. Brady did not create Belicheck, but Belicheck and that group of coaches put Brady in a great situation. The kid stepped up was successful, got confident and now is a monster.

That was the perspective of the conversation... then came Sam with his typical insults and know it all stuff... I think you caught the middle of it.

I do believe that BP won a SB with some journeyman QB.


For your sake, I hope you never meet this "old fart" in Walmart! LOL...

Posted by: DyingBreed | August 12, 2011 at 01:24 PM


Thanks for the warning, I'll surely stay the hell out of Walmarts-LOL.

I know it's only Pre-Season DB, but I feel like a little kid waiting on Santa Claus!

I hope the Fist Pumper doesn't put any coal in my stockings!

I'm READY!!!!

"Why is everyone saying they'll take Griese mind and Marino arm. What was wrong with Marino brain? Someone inform me please. Marino was 50 times better than Griese."

Posted by: D

Nothing was wrong with Marino's brain. You can't do what he did as a rookie if you're not football smart.

Hell , I used to shop at Walmart's.

If the Pats-Jags preseason game is any indication of headcoach Jack Del Rio's 2011 defense. He maybe unemployed before 2011 even ends. LOL...

WR news -

Plaxico to undergo an MRI on his ankle, Lee Evans traded to Ravens for a 4th.

Ask Shula, D. He's the one that said that Griese was a deep thinker.

odinseye,

Just dont know what it is. I never have to fart until I go to Walmart! Gotta be something in the air. LOL....


Fin,

I loved Wendall Tyler. Came out of UCLA I think.

Did his running style remind you of Mercury Morris at all?

odinseye | August 12, 2011 at 01:22 PM

YES!! How the Rams trade him to S.F. the following Season after a SB run was always a mistery to me. They get lucky wth E.Dickerson faling in there laps later or they never live down that trade which gives the 49ers the RB they lacked, also remember they sent MLB Jim Reynolds to the Bay as well that year.

I shop at Macy's now(nearer my Home in Downtown). By the way, they have excellent merchandised designed for all these $$$$$ People from Latin America.

Anytime u allow 47 pts to a team wheather it be preseason or regular season has to be a red flag somewhere for that coaching staff.....Pray to god that miami doesnt get blown out that bad even while playing bland as they say will....thats pathetic!

Well his "deep thinking" didnt make him better than Marino. Marino would be the considered the greatest QB if he won a championship. Sadly Montana and Elway is 1 and 2.

DB @1:21,

Good point and one that always causes confusion because of the game being played the next calender year.

I agree.

I dont know about deep thinker. IMO Griese was a qb who didnt have the greatest of arms but I didnt think there was a qb in the league who could out prepare him.

Always being well prepared and a total student of the game Griese knew offense better than the palms of his hands. This is what I believe led to him recieving the nick name "the surgeon".

Because of his unsurpassed preparedness he executed his offense with surgical-like precision.

Piozen @1:26

Trust me I know how Sam will take two senrences out of a three paragraph post and spin it to suit his point of view, SO DOES ODIN BUT DON`T GET HIM STARTED. If you`ve gone there with Sam I feel for you man, cause he`s a frustrating person to hold a coherent debate with. I think he missed his calling he should have gone into the medium were spin is King, POLITICS!!! AHHH!!!

He is smart, Man. In Internet you don't BS around. He is smart as Hell(or Heaven).

"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."

Posted by: fin4life

My points:

1. Montana was accurate when he went deep and connected on those throws. Henne, not so much.

2. Defenses play mobile QB's (Montana) differently than they do immobile ones (Henne).

If Henne has turned the corner like some suspect, maybe he'll dissect hit on more of those deep throws that were off-target last year. As to mobility, I'm not sure if much can be done about his lead feet.

ravens pick up evans, they are going to make a run. rickey might get his sb ring.

Deep thinking qb's will rack up a record number of sacks. When a qb is well prepared he doesnt have to think. All he has to do is react.

"Thinking Man's QB" is a term resrved for those fans who sit on the sideline thinking about how great it would be to have a qb that reacts properly to almost all situations. Not the qb himself.

The nfl is a superfast league. All of your thinking has to be done well before the game or youre screwed! LOL....

DB @1:38,

It also helps when you have one of the best rushing attacks in NFL History, LOL!!

well at least henne will outshine mallet this year....just becuase mallet will be waiting with clipboard in hand behind brady and hoyer.

Yup, grant. But I mean, we are human(almost), we want to see some Football!

ravens still need to show that they can get past pittsburgh.....pretty much a lock for the playoffs tho....which will help rickys chances anyway...

Thank you for that fin4, I thought I was going crazy for a minute,

Sam @1:41,

I`m not comparing Henne to arguably the most clutch Q.B. in NFL history and am not going to debate Henne with you again because another one of those and I may end up taking a hammer to the computer. The point is whether Bush can thrive as a threat in the pass game like the 49ers used Craig and later Ricky Watters and I think he could. For it to work though you need to pull the safties back so a break out season from Gates will also have to play a part. To many unknowns we will see by about week 4 of the season how that plays out.

fin4,

@ 1:38 PM I was only referring to the post championship years Griese. Because we had such great all around offensive weapons(oline included) the jury was still out on Griese even after 3 straight SB appearances and 2 victories.

The nfl and Dolphin fans really didnt truly sold on Griese until the post championship years. Thats when Griese began to prove he wasnt just ridning the coat tails of a great offense. Just that we didnt have any titles to reflect it.

But the post championship years were when Griese played his best individual football for the Miami Dolphins.

Ohhhhhhhhhhh yeah baby. Warm me up big fella. Stick me in your pants. Clench unclench. Hip to sky. Let's reach the stars on that first 37 yard FG.

Err..Griese was a great scrambler(same as T. Bradshaw). DB, by your writng we old farts can easily see you are a Jr. Please, more respect. Just let yourself be Educated(in Football).

some problems seem so obviuos, and when the ability to identify a problem IS the problem then your going nowhere. take for instance(runningback). if you watch tape of ricky's FIRST and second season with the fins, then compared it to the LAST two seasons, even a dumb fan like me could easily see that he had lost way too much speed. running back WILL improve this year for the simple fact of fresh legs and youth, bank on it! take QB, in evaluating vick's 1st preseason game, it's extremly noteable that the area where henne is lacking is the playbook, vick knows where he wants to throw immediately, with a quick peeke he knows weather to throw it or not, and if the play is not there he processes the next read even faster, henne on the other hand is slow with his reads, which is why last year he looked so indecisive(spend much more time with playbook). take the o-line, if i were playing against the fins i would focus my attention at right tackle. the fins should be totally aware of this, right now i hope the running backs are working hard on their protections, blocks and playbook. oh and by the way, i had mentioned that miami might want to be looking at QUINN instead of orton when both parties were close to a deal. turns out i was right, quinn looks better then orton and teebow, the media echo's my evaluation.

Great pickup by Balimore in getting Lee Evans. I said yesterday that I was against trading for a veteran receiver and want the kids to play but I have to admit I would have been very tempted for a 4th. Not sure the Bills would have traded him to us but you have to think our 4th will be higher than Baltimore's.

In other news, Plaxico Burress shut down until next Wednesday and getting an MRI on his ankle. According to PFT, 'he hasn't been able to put consecutive 'limited' practices together'. Not looking good for their new addition at WR.

During the SB years many saw Griese only as good enough not to screw things up. Not as a very good qb himself. He wouldnt earn that respect until the post SB years.

...... and please don't forget the clean up rag (preferably not those dirty thongs from the misus either)

really grant???


so your gonna tell me if 2nd and third stringers start wiping the floor with your team in the preseason with the likelyhood of injuries to occur becuase of the lockout which may end up having to put those kind of players on the field in that sitiuation....thats the kind of performance you could take away and be happy about?*lol*...c'mon man, preseason is nothing in terms of winning or losing with that much i agree but i certianly would rather see guys working hard rather then laying down and getting their @sses handed to them.

Poizen,

Spin much?

You said that Bledsoe was not healthy until the next year. That is patently false. Bledsoe played the same season in which he was injured, liar.

DB @1:51,

Got ya and see your point remember well missing Griese with hot & cold D.Woodley.

You guys have a great day. Life awaits far outside of the internet! LOL....

**NEWS FLASH**
----------------

**NEWS FLASH**
_________________

This just in, read ALL about it!!!!


1. Montana was accurate when he went deep and connected on those throws. Henne, not so much.

2. Defenses play mobile QB's (Montana) differently than they do immobile ones (Henne).

Posted by: Seminole Sam | August 12, 2011 at 01:41 PM


Apparently Chad Henne is no Joe Montana!

Wow, who'd a thunkit?

Thanks for that on the spot reporting Shammy!!!!

SHEESH!

You know what? None of this crap matters! We have a Q.B. that can barely hand off let alone complete a pass in practice. So it really doesn't matter who we surround him with. Ricky will end up winning a S.B. ring with the Ravens ( ala Wes Welker ) since they just picked up Evans. Sparano already named Henne the starting Q.B. after several Int.'s in practice. Ross will invite more celeb.'s to the game. And our only freaking chance is that Adam Sandler can get Sparano to draw up some more secret plays after he gets done screwing with the O-Line and overcomes his fear of of coach Jerry Reed when he pictures him as a baby and crawls out from under his desk and grows a set!!! If all else fails just maybe we can get some hot ex-stripper cheerleaders and Keanu can come Q.B.

odinseye,

Tell your boyfriend DyingBreed.

fin4,

Woodley was a running qb. Drafting Woodley became appealling to Shula after Watching Steve Grogan(Pats) trample thru his defenses. Woodley was never as good a passer as Grogan. Therefore the folklore of the Wodstock creature coming into existence begin. LOL...

Craig M, Love to see Plax move blow up on the JETS!!! That would be GREAT!

Griese was very accurate and smart. Let's say, let me see,,,like Pat Devlin. Eh.

Hey Odin, Henne is not an imobile Q.B. He's in a freakin' COMA!!!

Seminole Sam,

Guess you didnt get the memo neither, so I'll politely repost:

"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... ENUFF SAD!"

LOL...

fin4life,

I understand that you're not comparing Henne and Montana. DyingBreed made a thinly veiled comparison to the two after saying "not to make a comparison".

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