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The offensive play of the line

The Dolphins offensive line, particularly the right side, is big and not particularly quick. It is built on size rather than speed.

Tamap Bay's slashing defensive line is not particularly big. It is built for quickness.

Advantage quickness over size when the Dolphins played the Bucs Saturday night. The Miami offensive line looked overmatched in the preseason's most important game. The unit yielded three sacks of starting QB Chad Henne and managed to open (scientific calculation coming next) holes only ants could have scurried through with their crappy unacceptable run-blocking.

"Every time you looked back there, it was a little different," Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris said. "Seeing the [Miami] quarterback getting hit, scrambling, throwing bad throws, getting hit after the ball was being released … it was a nice look for me and it was a nice look for our team."

It was not a nice look for Miami.

The right side of the line was particularly disastrous. Right tackle Marc Colombo, who has refused to speak to the media throughout training camp and the preseason, let his play do the talking and the result must have sounded something like this:

"Dang, just gave up my first sack of the game."

"Shoot, just gave up my second sack of the game."

"Wait, what?, you Tampa defensive linemen are making me look terrible and making Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland look bad for signing me!"

Colombo looked every bit the player the Cowboys jettisoned after yielding nine sacks a season ago. Truth is he's been kind of just average all training camp after practically being handed the right tackle job. But this night was a particurlarly terrible showing.

The amazing thing is Colombo gave up his two sacks on only 16 pass plays. And then he backed that up with ineffective run blocking on all but a couple of runs.

I'm not picking on Marc Colombo here -- the Bucs spanked him enough. I am saying he led the charge for a total unit-wide laying of an egg.

Vernon Carey gave up a tackle for loss. He yielded a pass pressure. He was flagged for one false start. And his run blocking produced about as many holes as you produced. The Dolphins cut Carey's salary to $2.5 million for this season and basically wiped out the final three years of the six-year deal he signed before the 2009 season. He will be a free agent after this year.

He will be unemployed if he doesn't play better than this showing.

All told, on a scale of 1-10, the right side of the Miami offensive line was a number more horrible than one.

I am not a coach. I cannot tell you who missed calls or assignments because the Dolphins haven't been kind enough to give me a copy of their playbook and playcalls. But I can tell center Mike Pouncey and left guard Richie Incognito had one play where they doubled one blocker while a blitzer ran by them.

Pouncey also had a notable moment in allowing another pressure up the gut on which even the TV broadcasters commented.

Incognito was probably the best of the group because he had no apparent and obvious mistakes. But on a night the Dolphins failed to gain even one rushing first down, he is almost guilty of bad play simply by association.

Left tackle? I'm not going to be hard on Lydon Murtha. He yielded a couple of hurries -- one in which the defender deliberately walked him back about four steps into Henne's face but couldn't get there fast enough because Colombo had already gotten destroyed by Dakota Watson. But the truth is, Murtha will not be in the lineup when the regular-season begins.

Miami's left tackle is Jake Long. So Murtha doesn't worry me.

I'd suggest Murtha might be a solid competitor for the right tackle job, but he hasn't looked like a starter this preseason so that probably isn't the answer, either.

I don't know the answer. And after four years of this current Dolphins administration failing to find the way to field a consistent, dependable offensive line, the Dolphins obviously don't have the answer.

The right tackle spot is a nightmare manned by a player who likely won't be here next year and is here this year seemingly because of his ties to the Dallas Cowboys. The right guard spot is manned by a player who the team recognized as over-valued and out of position at RT. So they put him at RG where he is also didn't show anything in his last outing.

I suppose the Dolphins could go out and try to add someone. Shaun O'Hara, or Dallas retreads Leonard Davis or Andre Gurode if he's dumped by the Cowboys. Maybe the waiver wires offer some sort of escape.

But whichever discard is added will be, well, a discard from another team and a guy coming in just two weeks from the start of the regular season.



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very good indepth analysis - thanks Mando

Mando, sounds like you've been reading the bloggers! But good article. Maybe you can follow it up with one about Reggie Bush (taking hand offs and running as opposed to catching passes) and Thomas. I'm not so sure we have a running game even with a real RT on board.

By the way, while I was away I see someone liked my name so much they couldn't resist using it too. Scanned through the blogs and saw my name faked several times with different spellings like:

Simone says
Symone Says

It looks like the poster just wanted to say negative things (not objective criticism, just negative) just to add fuel to the fire and get others to argue.

Just know that was not me.

I don't have the answer.

I do know that Spoarano played Murtha, Garner, Jerry and then Feinga at left guard lat night. Out of the four Jerry probably played best and his best was barely better than terrible.

To be fair, Murtha did play against the starters and it showed. Even considering this, I give a SLIGHT nod to Jerry. To be thorough, Jerry also played some right guard, HE STUNK! Sorry, no disrespect, I'm just calling it like I see it.

Interestingly, only Colombo and FINALLY Willis, played at Right Tackle. Willis definitely looks like an upgrade over Colombo, but not enough of one in my opinion. To be fair and for whatever reasons, Willis hasn't played or practiced much since being signed. Take that for what it's worth, but the fact is, we're out of time.

So, according to my Pre Season "film study(LOL)" and grading system, it goes like this(regardless of position-mix and match them any way you want-Tony does):

1. Long - Even though he hasn't played a down yet he grades out the best, as obvious as this is, it ought to tell you something.

2. Incognito

3. Pouncey

4. Willis - I welcome all arguments on this, believe me, I hope I'm wrong. I don't think I am though.

From this point on this post deteriorates rapidly. Especially if you think ranking Willis at 4 was bad. Seriously though, after Willis we got Garner, Berger, Feinga, Jerry, Carey, Murtha and Colombo(God I HOPE I'm forgetting someone-ANYONE).

Basically, I'd rather just cut the rest, but we can't have a 4 man line let alone a thing other teams have called: DEPTH. Anyways, to finish out my grading:

5. Berger

6. Jerry

From this point on, 7-11, it's anybodys guess, but I'm not going to put anymore thought into it.

Bare balling it, bottom lining it, however you want to put it, If we had to open the season tommorrow, my starting line up, as it looks right NOW, would go like this:

LT - Long

LG - Cognito

c - Pouncey

RG - Berger

RT - Willis

If Jeffy ever plans on pulling a Rabbit out of his a ss, now would be the time! Good Luck with the roster churning.



This Article Is Good...Now Back it up Please!


Jerry is the greenest of the bunch. I wonder if Sparano thinks he still has potential, some upside, or if he's thinking bust.

Ok, it's still pre-season so Sparano and Ireland get a pass on the poorly-performing O Line. After a few regular season games, if the O Line is still not performing well, one of south Florida's writers covering the Dolphins needs to do an article with a breakdown and timeline of the Dolphins O Line since "O line guru/master" Sparano started building it.


Want to applaud you.

I laughed my as$ off reading your latest blog.

Your choice of wrds were so freakin funny i may have busted a rib in laughter.

Mostly 'cause u r right, and spun some humor (with ur choice of description) in your pointed post.

I cann't emeber the last time I laughed so hard my eyes teared...


Sporano is a joke.

he is as much an offensive line "guru" as much he is a head coach.

Sad state of affairs.

The arguement of Henne will by Mute because he will get KILLED before we even find out if he can even play. How long do you think he will last with this joke of a line "protecting" LOL, him?

I've seen Willis get destroyed by some 3rd stringers. And he's small. Doesn't seem like much of an answer. The Colombo signing seemed bad when it happened and yep, he's BAD. Just awful. Murtha is probably our best bet right now--he did a pretty good job with Charles Johnson a week ago--and then we're one injury away from catastrophe again.

Good news is Odrick looks great and we've got a glut of d-linemen. There's got to be some way to make a trade--Starks maybe? Peeling a starting caliber tackle away from any team will be hard. I can't imagine Merling's value is that high.

Ireland, please work some magic. This team is so close to being good.

I always thought the key to this season (any season) would be qb play but I never expected that o line with the heavy investment of top picks and cash to be this bad. This may be Sparano's undoing. The drafting of John Jerry over Aaron Hernandez or within a few picks of the TE of New Orleans is especially disconcerting

Long is key, a pro bowl left tackle can make a poor line at least appear average. We miss him badly.

I'm glad that you are finally getting off the Henne Hater's band wagon, and looking at the true problem. We ousted the bad OC, and QB coach, and have drafted the right guy at two of the five positions. What do we do about the other three? We can't spend the next three first picks to get a good line. You don't normally draft RT, or the guards in the first round, but as things stand, we may need to draft one of those positions first next year. Doesn't do anything about this year, though.

I'd like to see what Henne could do behind a real offensive line!! Why not sign McKinnie? Too late anyway.....I see Ronnie is running well for the Eagles.....oh yeah, he has a real offensive line....


4 years later and OUR Former O-Line Head Coach still can`t get IT done?????
Donald Thomas looks like a BUST after 2 games too!

"I don't know the answer. And after four years of this current Dolphins administration failing to find the way to field a consistent, dependable offensive line, the Dolphins obviously don't have the answer."

Good read. Agree with most of it accept this. Its been just 2 years, not 4. They did great in 2008. Just the last 2 season have been pretty rough. We cant say this year is #3 yet, the season hasnt even started.

BUT, i am a little nervous. Maybe we should move incognito to RG to give that side a little stability and hope Long and Pouncey can make up for our right side of the lines bad play up to date. We need to go through the free agent pool soon.

Again though, last year people were whining and moaning about the churning going on with our offensive line. Now those same people want sparano to go churn the line. Let him do his job

I think a trade is in order - try to find someone with defensive line needs and grab one of their better o-lineman.

This group is bad.

Henne is at that important 3rd year (when most young QB's start to get it going) and now we have a problem with the offensive line. I just hope they can get it together soon so Henne can be evaluated properly.

Maybe we could turn some members of the defensive line into offensive linemen.















Justin C,

I have been on this bandwagon for a while now. Henning's offense was from the dark ages! You bring in a young coach "Daboll", who worked under Belichick, and plays offense like it should be played today. Spead offense!

They need to seriously consider McKinnie. If he dropped 50 pounds and wants to really play, bring him in for a workout.

The only reason they signed Colombo was because they knew the man and his work ethic. Sometimes it enough and sometimes it isn't.

Whatever happened to Nate Garner? Man, he looked good 2 years ago, the injury must have sapped him of his agility and strength. I thought he would at least compete for the RT job. And yes we whiffed on Bryant McKinnie. Did we even take a look at him?

Good one, Arrmando.

I was right, Armando, Taiwan got blown out trying to block.

Mr. Collinsworth was on target last night.

Ahhh...Wake up O-Line. You would think with two first round draft picks being spent on the O Line, and with Sparano being a Oline coach, the last thing we would be worried about heading into this season is stability at the Oline...I like Sparano and our team. It is still early, but, I just don't get while we are "still" trying to figure out who's who with our OLine? We should be trying to figure maybe one or two pieces of that puzzle, but as porous as the Oline was, it makes me a little upset....but hey, it's preseason...If we get crushed by New England then I will call Chicken Little...

I also wish I knew the answer. What I do know is that it's getting very late for the Miami Dolphins to be successful this Season. And I'm feeling kind of nervous.

I didn't see the game yet (it replayed last night @ 11pm and I haven't been able to watch it as of yet (I will tonight).

But from the analysis and stories, looks like we were right on our assessments that Colombo is a big joke. And this isn't the 1st time this FO has brought a joke to this team from the Cowboys (anyone remember the star LB Carpenter)? More than anything else, this is what gets Sparano fired at the end of the season. You had FOUR years, and you couldn't solidify the ONE group which you are an expert at. That's not something you can come back from. This is the highest paid group on the team, and they are just as bad as they were in '07 when they went 1-15. Hard to know what you have at QB with a line like that!

henne is still going to be a robot this year but this year he is going to be the TERMINATOR!

anyway, who saw the lack of speed on defense when tampa had backs catching passes in open space. no one around to make the tackle resulting in too many yac's.

Can we really have high expectations when we don't even have the oline figured out and it is still highly suspect 2 weeks before the open?

Our competition has set olines and finely tuned offenses that have been in place for years, while we are expecting to have a brand new offense and new offensive line gel in 8 games.

Me thinks we be fooling ourselves.

I like Sparano, a lot, as a person. I'm trying to like him as a coach, but am starting to need some help. First there was the hated defense headed by that Italian Stallion Dallas reject, Pag...whatever the hell his name was. After two years of defending him Coach finally let's him go and with the luck of God Denver starts to self destruct and gives us a turn key solution to our problem.

Then there was our strangeness about wide receivers. Proving that lightning does strike twice, again Denver served up Brandon Marshall in another case of “sometimes God helps you manage”.

And, I'm sure I wasn't the only devoted spaghetti bender who revolted at having our original OC look like he was getting comfortable in his office. We searched the universe of available OC replacements (one) and, thanks to Cleveland, the front office and/or Tony looks to have gotten it right, definitely better.

Now I'm not a coach but ever since I heard Coach Sparano say 15 minutes was a lot of practice time to give special teams I new that was a train wreck going to happen. A couple of gifted kickers and a rule change may have helped some but it seemed to my paranoia that too often kicks that failed to find the end zone wound up near our the 35-hardline.

Coach Sparano's “come to Jesus” meeting on the subject of offensive philosophy was more than a breath of fresh air. It was a gale wind of hope. I for one admit to screaming my approval at Henne's continued grooming but can't help but wonder if it was a vote of confidence or a case of the front office being wise enough to recognize the absence of an available improvement. Either one would be good.

Finally, we can kill two birds with one stone, the offensive line and the Dolphins being used by Jerry Jones as a place to sweep Dallas road kill. Don't know who is most to blame, Would like to point the finger a Parcells. But the inability to make progress in solving the OL problem has gone beyond the point of minor embarrassment. For a head coach who claims this as his specialty it is rapidly reaching
an issue of biblical portions.

I hope Tony has just been caught in the place of having to make lemonade out others' best intentions. Hopefully, he will have, from now going forward, a full say, in what Parcell's used to call “buying the groceries. It can make the difference between mixing a batch of “love potion #9" and a mug of hemlock.

Tony, as you would tell your troups, It's time to step up.

seiously if someone hired me to do a job and I was terrible at it I think I'd be fired. I don't get how our off line coach from last year didn't get fired. And sparano should have been let go 2 years ago

Anyone watch Mark Ingram pound the rock last night against the Raiders?
I know hindsight is 50/50, but if we can rewind to the April draft, I take Ingram @ 15 then get a center in the 2nd round.
Nothing against Pouncey, but the dream of Daniel Thomas ramming through a hole the size of the Lincoln Tunnel just ain't happening.
I was calling for Ingram @ 15 all spring...then we draft Pouncey and move UP to get Thomas who seems unable to pound the rock...which is exactly why we moved up to draft him.
Damn you Jeff Ireland!

When picking up some of these guys Miami should remember the old saying, " You can't polish a turd ".

Dan the man Marino looked great in the Madden 12 game yesterday. And, who do you think will be our new head coach next year ?

NH, think about the oline WITHOUT Pouncey. Ingram wouldn't have any hole to pound.

Another knock on Sparano (again, I haven't seen the game yet, so just going off reports), penalties. Apparently we had 11, and that's 10 too much. This team used to pride itself on being pretty clean and not shooting themselves in the foot. Now it seems that's all out the window. Sure Murtha won't be starting, but what about everyone else. At least if you have deficiencies in different areas, you can help yourself by not working against yourself. And that's up to the coaches to get the players into that frame of mind. Clean up the penalties.

DC...IMO we could have drafted a center in the 2nd round that could be very capable of opening up holes.
Bottom line is .... Ireland made this bed and he must sleep in it.
Let's all pray that with Long back at LT, Incognito at LG, and Pouncey at center, we can at the very least run the ball to the left side.

would Jerry Jones put up with our off. line...line coach, head coach my ass......

OH NH, dude. I gave you the benefit of the doubt because I respect your posts. But I saw some (not all) of the New Orleans game, and honestly was not impressed with Ingram. So I gave you the benefit of the doubt that he did something that I didn't see.

Just checked the stats: 6 attempts, 7 yards, with a long run of 5 yards. Against the Raiders. Just to give everyone a point of reference, our boy, Patrick Cobbs, got 48 yards off 4 attempts (long of 26 yards).

So, NH, do you seriously want to use THAT game as a testament that Ireland whiffed on Ingram? Because he could knock the ball in from 1 yard? Seriously?

I stand by my earlier prediction too, Ingram will NOT be a force in this league. His player-type (for a RB) is no longer what the elite RBs are (tough, durable, run up the middle types). Today's elite RBs are smaller, faster backs, with the exception of those wonders of the world that have it all wrapped in one (like a Peterson).

Right now, I'm thrilled we got Pouncey. Ingram might be better than Thomas, but the difference between the two is so negligible that it wouldn't alter 1 win or loss IMHO.

Ireland did the right thing passing on Ingram, the Dolphins did the right thing by shoring up their oline (which is the part of the team that needs the most help).

And Tony Sparano is supposed to be an offensive line guru? He keeps bringing in the trash that jerry Jones dumps.

I think this will be a season of offensive inconsistancy. One week the QB will be good and the line bad and the next week visa versa. Too many question marks at too many positions and although good the defense isn't going to be capable of taking up all the slack on a week in week out basis. 7-9 or 8-8 seems likely. Hope I'm wrong.

I didn't see Ingram last night. I saw his first game and he did make a really impressive run, burst up the middle, spin move on the linebacker and into the end zone with a force. He looked like a cannonball. Sean Payton recently said this was the best RB corp he's ever had, but of course you'd expect a coach to say that.

Now, whats done is done of course. But passing judgement on any rookie in preseason is premature. Lets see how Thomas does after a few games. Remember the OC isn't showing everything yet.

Reggie Bush seems like a weapon catching passes, but not sold on him yet as a running back.


Murtha will be a RT and the adjustment to play LT is huge. I hope you understand that, Pouncey and Incognito are doing a good job not great and Carey and Colombo not so much. We need upgrade ourline and stop moving people around the LINE NEED TO PLAY TOGETHER for a while.

Same deal as last year and the last three years. We all know throne sucks. So that tells me that Sparano does. He will do what he has done for two years. That is, cut Carey and Colombo and probably two of the back ups(Berger) and sign three guys off the scrap heap just before week one and announce that the line is fixed. That's what he did last year with McQuistan and Proctor. He sucks.

It amazes me how hard the knees jerk around here. Tampa plays a 4-3 and uses very quick DEs. The Dolphins play mainly against 3-4 defenses which feature larger DEs and edge LBs. Should Dolphins spend a lot of time scheming for a 4-3 defense they will rarely see or should they wing it in the pre-season and continue preparing for the 3-4?

Quit jerking people!

On the positive side..... if Henne plays well we can always use next year's number one pick on the OL.

Mando brought up a good point: Big and not particularly quick. With all the talk by Ireland this off season about addding speed...it turns out, their idea of speed is adding a fast WR.

Which is fine but they're still stuck in the 80s model of huge (overweight) immobile linemen. Apparently their idea of speed is confined to one or two positions and not the team as a whole.

Simon, agreed you can't fully pass judgment on any rookie in a few Preseason games. But, at least from what we've seen to date, Ingram is not some huge talent that's gonna make a huge difference to a team, he's just not. Neither is Thomas I might add, so that's why I'm fine with them drafting to fill a different position. I'm ONLY ok drafting a 1st-rd RB if it's Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson or a TRUE playmaker like that.

Until Henne can hit Gates in stride his speed means nothing. And how many plays will that be? So where is the speed? I guess Reggie Bush, but if he goes down like he normally does, then what? Thomas and Lex and LJ?

Swag, I was at the game and honestly Gates looked pretty raw... He dropped two passes he should have caught and there another two a good receiver would have caught. Gates may not make the cut to 53. They may try to sneak him on the PS, but he didn't look ready for prime time to me.

DC...touche my friend. You make some solid points.
My heart tells me Ingram will outrush Thomas this year and my emotions get the best of me when voicing opinions.
I am a Fins Fan till the end and would love nothing more than to be proven wrong on both Pouncey (whom I like)& Thomas.
Pre-season games are not harbingers of the real season and feel we have true ballers on our team who are ready to take their game to the next level. Thanks for keeping me honest.


Some are thinking Gates will be a starter from day 1. I don't see it. Like you say he is raw. He is no Julio Jones. Now maybe after a season or two he can really improve, bulk up a little and be a #1 WR for us, but he is not there yet.

When season opens out o-line for most efficient "realistic" solution:

LT: Jake Long
LG: Richie 'don't f with me or I will flip on you' incognito
C: Mike Pouncy
RG: Free-agent or waiver pick up
RT: Vernon Carey

All in all not terribly horrific depending on who else we get

All good NH, I just got scared when you mentioned Ingram. I took a lot of heat earlier this year because I was deadset against the guy, and didn't want to be proven wrong so early.

I agree he will probably be better than Thomas when all is said and done, I just don't see him as like an Arian Foster-type game-changer.

But we'll see. We've got enough problems on our team to keep us busy this year though.

Swag, Roberto Wallace looked really good! I was surprised, he didn't get a lot of touches but the ones he got he took advantage of. With Marshall, Bess, Hartline and Wallace, there may be only one slot left for Gates, Moore (who didn't play well) or Pruit (who should be gone soon, showed nothing). Livas will need a spot if they decide to keep him as a PR. Gates needs to step up...


I can't argue with taking Pouncey. We couldn't risk going with Berger as our starter and had no way to know what FA would come available.

So far I am most comfortable with our first and last picks of the draft, Wilson may be a diamond in the rough.

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