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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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I thought that Chinese People were very clean.

Armando is a dolphins HATER this is great stuff to talk about right before the preseason opener if i was in the dolphins FO I would run you and Ben the hell out of town


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

Posted by: FINSARMAGEDDON | August 12, 2011 at 02:02 PM


I never said a word abour Henne's mobility. Talk to Shammy.

You got a reading comprehension problem or something?

Cotchery to the JETS!!Are we even going to win a game in our division??? Sparano makes Wanny look like a genious!!






Nahh, there's no more impersonating(Thank God). It's me. I just have the talent(?) to go from the Sublime to the darkest Pit(finishing growing up in the streets of Miami?). I don't know but that's what's on my Table and of course, I have to eat It.

Odin , sorry your'e right . However it's still a fact. Lose the tude!!

Here's my vote for post of the day, because of it's simplicity, symmetry, and mostly it's UNDENIABLE, ABSOLUTE TRUTH!

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.

Posted by: Claire Voyant | August 12, 2011 at 12:35 PM


One more thought on Bledsoe, if you remember once he was traded to Buffalo they started there season 4-0 I believe then teams started bitzing him up the middle flushing him out and it`s were he became very ineffective and there season starts to go South. Bledsoe rolling either way was an averege to mediocre Q.B. with time in a pocket though he would pick you apart but once teams forced him to move he was neutralized.

It`s what made Marino that much more special, I can`t remember how many times teams thinking Marino immoble tried to bring the pressure up the gut in his face only to watch him slide his feet left or right and make a play. If you came at him from the outside he would then slide into the pocket, one of the few who could and make something happen. Dan`s ability to do this was incredible, he gets a wrap for being immoble and I tend to disagree, he could move in the pocket better than anybody while scanning the field. They should have added Slippery Dan or Black magic man to his nick names because it was down right magical.

Somebody started drinking early it seems....

"Guys, and you know who you are: Dyingbreed will not be responding to deranged uneducated post today.

Posted by: DyingBreed | August 12, 2011 at 02:05 PM

So why do you keep responding?????

It is something very good, when after Dinner, sip a Cardenal Mendoza.

finsarmageddon @1:59,

Welker hasn`t won any Super Bowl`s with the Pats he was on there undefeated team of 07 but the G-Men handled there business keeping us as the only unblemished in league history.

This may be one of the best blog you have posted on hear ever. This is so true, and I have been saying the same thing to friends of mine for a while now. Obviously you did your homework and have numbers and detials but I have been saying this for sometime now. If Sparano a Offensive Line Coach can not fix the O-LINE then how can we give him an entire franchise, and expect him to turn it around.

Another free agent bust will be Reggie Bush, if people thought those O-linemen we brought in wear injury prone, wait till you people see this guy rack up injury after injury!!

Great Post Mando!! I liked this one!

Fin4, Yes, Bledsoe was very Marino like, just not good enough. :)

Bledsoe also did not learn to run out of bounds quickly when a linebacker is getting REAL close.

He got blown up that next year on almost a identical hit in a buffalo uniform.

Hennes going to hand the ball off three times....we punt....thats it for 1st stringers...there wont be time for naysayers fin...just sayin...!!!

I have no idea, baller40. We'll see.

DB @2:02,

The most frustrating thing about WoodStrock was you never knew from one week to the next which Woodley would show up prompting the switch, remember in the Playoffs before the SB how well he played even avenging the 81 game vs. S.D. with a beatdown of them in those Playoffs.

He saves his dud for the SB forcing the move in a game we went into the 4th Qrt. leading 17-10. Everybody praises Riggins but our D was dead at the end we get to 17 points of Fulton Walkers kick return and remember the pass late in the 4th from Thiesman that D.Betters bats in the air and Bokamper had in his hands for six that Thiesman strip him of, we should have had that one!!

fins, stand corrected but at least he gets to be on a winning team.

finsfan72...I don't think that Henne will get more then 1 or 2 series. And from your post @12:12 I would be one that is in the group that says it's an exibition who cares..

But this year is different. These opening drives need to be crisp. It will do wonders for the team if Henne can look like a professional. Take Kolb last night.. 1 bad throw, and no scoring drives. But he did good things, moved the team, and gave the offense reason to believe he is the guy. If we can get a performance from Henne that is similar. The team can walk away felling good.


I hate to say I told you so.....but.....I TOLD YOU SO....lol......

Don't get mad and all insulted....just eat some of this humble pie i'm serving up....nice and cold.......

Lee Evans is a Baltimore Raven......the compensation....a 4th rd pick.....

Football is a buisness....not a madden game....just because a guy isn't signed in the 1st 2 Mins he is made available.....DOESN'T MEAN THAT 31 TEAMS HAVE PASSED ON HIM.....

So know that the MATH is done......what answer's do you have.....


He not only gets to play for a perennial winner but has since also seen his salary triple, nice!! When the shedder accompanies the accomplishments!!

Sliding around in the pocket the way Marino did is even more valuable than scrambling. Completing a downfield pass beats a 5yd run anyday.

Darryl @2:28,

I think your 100% right these maybe the most intriguing Pre-Season games in some time. We have to work on getting everybody on the same page as you stated and also see how the competition plays out. I for one will be curious to see if Willis looks sharp and Colombo mediocre if Sparano will stand firm on not making the switch.

Moving the Team? Forget it. We want to score, preferably TD's.

You're right, we probably won't see enough of Henne to get either side riled up, but it WOULD be nice to see some positive plays.


Dan was magical in that way, huhh!!


YEAH! Fist Pumps for Touchdowns!

We need a Touchdown drive the first series regardless of what others say. We need to know that the Offensive Line and the Offense are on the same page. We need to see some running and passing lanes. We need to se at least one deep throw on the first series to Hartline or Gates. It doesn't have to be completed bu tit has to go to one on one coverage and not into double or triple coverage!

Odin , sorry your'e right . However it's still a fact. Lose the tude!!

Posted by: FINSARMAGEDDON | August 12, 2011 at 02:12 PM

Well, since you apologized so eloquently, OK!

Tude Lost-LOL!!!!

He really didn't get enough credit for his sliding around, avoiding the rush. People only recognize scrambling.

Ballet dancer's feet. Probably why his Achilles tendon went("it felt as if I was shot") and, it seems to me, was never the same after dat.

Marino was Marino because he had the quickest release at QB ever. He did buy time in the pocket but his release is what saved his butt and the Dolphins!

"You're right, we probably won't see enough of Henne to get either side riled up, but it WOULD be nice to see some positive plays."

Posted by: finsfan72

I wouldn't be too sure of that.

Regardless of which side of the fence you're on with Henne, PRELIMINARY CONCLUSIONS WILL BE MADE (as baseless as they may be) after tonight's game. If he completes 8-9 or 1-9 or doesn't attempt a single pass (which would be disastrous, imho), the blog will be buzzing.

Dat, also.

when we going to stop talking about marino and griese and last century???

give it up. the time is now.

Tomorrow this blog will be going crazy...lmbo!

no ticky no washy

Wise insight as usual Oscar!

By the way- Shula's 3rd =Johnny U?

We study history for a reason yugo! People learn from history because history repeats it's self....so we are hoping the Dolphins draft a QB next year...lol!

"He really didn't get enough credit for his sliding around, avoiding the rush. People only recognize scrambling."

Posted by: finsfan72

I thought he got a lot credit for doing just enough to elude defenders and keep the play alive - obviously not as much praise as his lightning-quick release, but defenders like Bruce Smith would comment on it.

Even if Henne wins the Super Bowl this year, PLEASE draft a first round Quarterback!

Hey man I was walking around by your house today and I found this tude outside your back door. Is it yours? Did you lose one earlier?

"when we going to stop talking about marino and griese and last century???

give it up. the time is now."

Posted by: yugo

Isn't a Yugo a thing of the past?

yugo, 7:30PM , Tonight , on Channel, hmm.., People, help me out.

People he played against knew it about Marino, but today, historically, he doesn't get a lot of credit for it.

Marino had all the tools and intangibles.

Still, I think his mind may have been his greatest attribute.

That's where he got the Calm Cool Headed Confidence!

You could not rattle the guy and with him, the game TRULY wasn't over until it was over!

Tomorrow this blog will be going crazy...lmbo!

1980 Phin Four Life | August 12, 2011 at 02:55 PM

True dat!! It should be fun, huhh!!

"Even if Henne wins the Super Bowl this year, PLEASE draft a first round Quarterback!"

Posted by: odinseye

We drafted one after Woodley took us to a Super Bowl and the rest is history. Would the Dolphins have drafted him if they'd actually WON SB XVII?

I think we get the point finsfan72...Marino slid around in the pocket and didn't get enough credit for it....got it. Next topic! Luv ya but let's move on!

They call them tudes nowadays?

Hey man I was walking around by your house today and I found this tude outside your back door. Is it yours? Did you lose one earlier?

Posted by: finsfan72 | August 12, 2011 at 03:00 PM

Oh, hey thanks man. Yeah, I'm going to be needing that back for after the game.

PS: Shhhhhhhhhh! Don't tell Finsarmageddon.

I heard the best joke ever today.....what is the difference between a blow job and a mustang?

Remember Marino is a Big SOB(almost like Big Ben). Not so easy to bring down.

This egomaniac, megalomaniac HC appears to suffer from some type of obssessive-compulsive problem also as he just cannot stop f*cking with the O Line and it has been with great detriment to the team. So far he appears to be continuing with the same behavior. Also it really is puzzling why he keeps taking all these dumped and over the hill and injured players to play his "smash-mouth" style of football. The O Line switching is sure to continue under this philosophy.

We drafted one after Woodley took us to a Super Bowl and the rest is history. Would the Dolphins have drafted him if they'd actually WON SB XVII?

Posted by: Seminole Sam | August 12, 2011 at 03:04 PM

That's a good question considering we might not have drafted one in the first round that year had Marino not fell.

Marino, cool? That's a better joke than that Mustang.


Did I just have a civilized exchange with Sam?

That felt STRANGE!

I heard the best joke ever today.....what is the difference between a blow job and a mustang?

Posted by: 1980 Phin Four Life |

Your Mom didn't give me a mustang!!!!! LMAO!

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