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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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Aloco,

I'm getting ready to sneak a Little(a lot)Dark Barcardi into the peanut butter cookie batter!

I love peanut butter cookies.

I hope she likes Dark Rum!

Why is Long so freakin weak? Don't understand the thought that he's a pro bowler. He gets knocked on his back frequently.

PLEASE LET THE FIRST TEAM OFFENSE PLAY WELL TONIGHT!!!

THE D BETTER PLAY WELL!!!

Does anyone know if we can watch the game online tonight?

Help! Help me!

There's a Dolphins game tonight and I just know Odinseye is going to drown me in at least a quart of vodka by halftime. Odinseye's kidneys would say something too but they're too bashful! Damn bashful kidneys!


I'm getting ready to sneak a Little(a lot)Dark Barcardi into the peanut butter cookie batter!

I hope she likes Dark Rum!

Posted by: odinseye | August 12, 2011 at 04:47 PM

So you need to trick them into getting drunk to have your way with them? Impressive.

Matt Roth signs 1yr $3 million contract with Jags. Seems the offseason nfl market is suggesting Matt Roth isnt nearly as good as he nor his agent thinks he is.

A 1yr contract for a guy as young as Roth's a very terrible vote of 100% confidence. 1yr $3 million Im still rotflmao! LOL...

BoulderFinFan, $20 for preseason game pass at nfl.com gets all 4 weeks of preseason games streamed live, except local blackouts, I believe.

funny reading this on b.marshalls fantasy value: Brandon Marshall(notes) – Sensational talent, awful situation. ‘Fins’ fans demands for a competent quarterback are completely justified. Chad Henne(notes) couldn’t hit a 20-story skyscraper from 10 yards out. Provided Marshall doesn’t slip on another random object, expect more of the same for the former All-Pro – excellent reception/yard totals, few TDs. The 14th WR off the board in average drafts, he’s grossly overvalued

BoulderFin,

Go to this site and ask for a link these guys always have one whenever I`m out of town they hook me up.

http://www.finsnation.com/fins_nation/2011/08/and-here-we-go.html

GUYS I WATCHED 3 PRESEASON GAMES ON THIS LINK LAST NIGHT:

http://www.firstrowsports.eu/sport/american-football.html

HOPE THEY'RE STILL IN BUSINESS TONIGHT! LOL...

http://www.firstrowsports.eu/sport/american-football.html

THIS LINK DOES SHOW THE DOLPHINS-FALCONS GAME IN TONIGHT'S VEIWING LINEUP!

3 million is not bad at all for 4 months work.

This article makes me sick season hasnt even started... blablabla!

DB,

Thanks gonna save that one for the Season, last year I used ADHE.TV and when I went to check it the Feds had seized it with a warning page about TV Piracy

Armando,

The Oline is probably the biggest disappointment of the free agent season for me. Forget the QB situation, I wanted the Fins to sign one of the top guards in the market. But nooooooooo! Retreads and discards are what they went after. Then the mad scientist route again with the Oline. Its driving me nuts! If this doesn't work this season it will be Sparano's Waterloo. Sorry to say...

Oh me so horny!

Dying, you say you're in central Fla area...ch 10 on out house I mean bright house cable out of orlando.

fins4life
I too am looking for an online feed to watch the game tonight. I'm in the middle of moving and won't have cable on tonight.

Is that what the link at 5:02 was for?

i see the ravens got l.evans for nothing

i'll bet lex hilliard gets more total yards than r. bush.

Sorry I came in the middle of the discussion about a live feed for the game tonight. I've been packing and checking in when I take a break.

It looks like First Row will be showing the game, right?

Reggie Bush won't even make it to the regular season before getting injured. I ought to know.


So you need to trick them into getting drunk to have your way with them? Impressive.

Posted by: Judge Judy | August 12, 2011 at 05:00 PM


"TRICK" is such a harsh word. I prefer: "Persuade".

Just for the record, I'm not trying to be Impressive. I'm just trying to get me some.

If the ends justifies the mean, I'm all in!

I ain't too proud to beg, plead, or even pay!

It's all good in the end!

Bottom's Up!!!!

sorry dusty,

but no way buffalo was going to deal evans to us...not even if we offered a 3rd rd pick...

Maybe after the game we can punch some of these fintards in the face for being dumber than Henne. They still haven't figured out how meaningless these games are. Remember when Henne went 17/26 130 yards versus Jax in his rookie year in the preseason?

fin72,

Yes!! It`s a link

maybe so, bet we never tried either. we never try for anyone

is 17/26 130 yards good?? uh no, sounds like alot of check downs. 7.6 yards per comp, awful

Can you say "Bush to the left,Thomas to the left, and yes......Marshall to the left." :) I think Long and Incognito are going to be down right nasty this year, but the other side ?????? I hope Pouncey works out.

I don't understand people saying they don't get excited over pre season games. Yeah, the win or loss doesn't mean a thing, but there is more.

Maybe I'm just a Football Homer but I'm pumped. I've been waiting since the draft to see Pouncey, Thomas Gates and Clay. I also can't wait to see our bonus round draft picks Odrick and Eeds.

Isn't anyone curious to see Daboll's new offense or how good Burnett looks next too Dansby?

You guys can yawn away the pre season. Me myself, I'm going to record and study every single game.

God I LOVE MY Miami Dolphins!!!!

What's wrong with a man having a drink or two?

Mallet looked good yesterday. But then again, everyone looks good on other teams. They always look like krap on this team.

Waaaahhhhh we never try for anyone. Wahhhhhhhh. Ummmmm Dansby, Marshall, Cp10, Bush, tried for Orton. Another tard not worthy of my mighty pump. Go change your diaper bi!.tch

AwwwwwwwwwwwwwRiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight MIAMI!!!!

I love Jim Mandich too and I would like us to dedicate this season to him as well.

RIP Mad Dog, this Bud's for YOU!

keith nobody even knows if long is gonna play

yeah very sad seeing mallet already look better than henne

I`ve been reading the http://www.finsnation.com/fins_nation/ Blog and suggest anybody who wants to laugh go check it out they have a picture of Henne as a robot thats freak`n Hillarious

Odin @ 5:48
I Myself pay attention to our preseason games. Not the W/L...that's meaningless. But how a player is either progressing or not. And by the last one, you'll get a pretty good idea of how the team will play in regular season.

by the last one? u wont get a good feel. nobody will even play that game


AwwwwwwwwwwwwwRiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight MIAMI!!!!

I love Jim Mandich too and I would like us to dedicate this season to him as well.

RIP Mad Dog, this Bud's for YOU!

odinseye | August 12, 2011 at 05:51 PM

If there is such a thing as a member of the Miami Dolphins Football family Mad Dog was at it`s core. Seeing him last Season and how he had deteriorated was sad!! RIP!! Will be missed indeed!!

cocajoe/odin,

Given all the competition accross the board and a new Offense being unvailed with two new RB`s make this the most interesting Pre-Season in resent memory. I to want to see Edds, R.Jones, the rooks ect.. Will be paying close attention to R.Willis at RT running with the 2nd team because if he looks sharp and Colombo falters as I suspect I wonder how long before TS makes a move. I hope he learned from last year and understands he needs to set the starters on OL before the week 3 Pre-Season dress rehersal.

Just passing Through,

Hey GM of the dolphins, Thank you for not selecting Ryan Mallet. Man you blew that call and so many more. I must say,Mallet looked great. But won't against us. But he will tear the dolphins up. And i LOVE THIS.

What UP Joe!

Anyone gotta link to da game?

I'm with odin @ 5:48!

Link??

Anyone have a link to tonights stream?

Yeah, what pj said......


http://www.firstrowsports.eu/sport/american-football.html

THIS LINK DOES SHOW THE DOLPHINS-FALCONS GAME IN TONIGHT'S VEIWING LINEUP!

DyingBreed | August 12, 2011 at 05:09 PM.

Just heard on Dan lebtard that neither Marshall or Bess will be playing tonight or was it phinsiders

You da kind DB!

Bush not bess

Sorry

You 2 fin4life....

Be careful with those sports streaming sites. Many will attempt to compromise your pc and you won't even realize it. Especially now that they are based on foreign soil, they operate with no holds barred.

Fin, Sparano said no (forget exact wording) musical chairs this year. But I believe his mixing and matching in the past was partly out of desporation. Some from injuries but mostly from poor choices.

Columbo in my opinion, was another poor choice. Now is the time to get it right if he can.

It's just amazing to me that Ireland is still around

I'm starting my Pre season warm up.

I want to be in mid season form when we open on Monday night.

Lets see:

Ice Trays: Full.

Budweisers: Ice cold.

Tonights Starter: Jim Beam

Back Up: Jack Daniels.

I know, I know people say I shouldn't start Jim over Jack. The thing is you see, Jim has filled in nicely in the pinch and what not and Jack you just never know what he'll do. One minute everythings going smooth, the next minute you find out he's got you in a world of trouble.

Anywhoo..............I"M READY!

Bottom's Up!!!!

Let's go phins

ESPN already has Henne marked with 2 INT's and the game hasn't even started yet. How do they know this stuff?

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