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Miami's "above average" pass protection to be tested

Ponder this statistic: The Dolphins are among the three worst offenses in the NFL at preventing sacks of their quarterback. Miami has yielded 22 sacks, which trails only league-worst Seattle (24) and St. Louis (22).

Now consider coach Tony Sparano's take on Miami's protection: "I would say that the protection as a whole right now I would call it slightly above average. So I think in our league right now above average is about where you’re going to be. I don’t think anybody is great protecting a passer in our league. I really don’t. I think with the limited amount time that you’re in pads and the limited about of time that you have to practice, I really don’t think anybody is great. I think above average is probably pretty good. I think we’re kind of slightly there. We have a high number of sacks right now, but those are for a bunch of reasons."

Obviously the statement and the numbers do not match on their face.

That kind of statement makes most media crazy because they seem totally disconnected from the truth. And thus, fans reading the media account think Sparano is totally unaware of exactly how atrocious his offensive line really is.

But ...

Stop. Breathe. Relax.

Allow me a second to translate, if I may. No, I do not speak coachspeak fluently. But after a few years of listening to the droning of these guys, I think I can kind of sort of understand every other word more or less.

The truth is Sparano is no doubt referring to the protection of his quarterbacks as much more than offensive line play. It includes tight end blocking and running back blocking. And when he mentions that the number of sacks is high but the protection is still "above average" he is clearly saying sometimes the quarterbacks have held the ball too long. He is probably also saying sometimes receivers are not getting open quickly enough or maybe not at all.

Now, there is no way I would defend Miami's offensive line play while protecting the quarterback. Matt Moore got absolutely rocked by multiple blitzes last Sunday and while some of those were successful against terrible blocking by Daniel Thomas, among others, some of the problems were indeed up front as well.

So hopefully you don't think Sparano to be living in a fantasy world when he tells you protction has been "above average." He probably should have specified whose protection he meant and whose he didn't.

Having said all that, the entire picture that makes up Miami's protection -- offensive line, running backs, tight ends, quarterbacks getting rid of the ball on time while receiver get open quickly -- better be at their best on Sunday.

That's because the Giants have perhaps more talent along the defensive line than any other team.

The Giants share the NFL lead in sacks with 21 -- and that while premier pass-rusher Justin Tuck was missed four out of six games with neck and groin injruies. There could be moments in Sunday's game when Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Jand ason Pierre Paul will be pinning their ears back on Moore at the same time.

We will know then exactly how "above average" Miami's pass protection really is.

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