This morning my column in the Miami Herald explains the state of flux the Dolphins offensive line is in since John Jerry's knee injury disturbed the relative peace of the unit. It explains how several players are moving around, including players you wouldn't have thought. It explains how offensive coordinator Mike Sherman sounds a bit uncertain about how such juggling might affect players.
But allow me to go a bit further here as we have more space to dig into the issue. (I'm so glad the Internet is not yet full to capacity).
One of the reasons the stability of Miami's offensive line is profoundly important this year is because the Dolphins are undergoing something of a transformation on offense and it greatly depends on the ability of the front wall to stay sturdy.
The Dolphins, you see, are apparently going away from their typical offense this year. So far this training camp the use of the FB as the lead blocker has been rare indeed. I think I've seen the Dolphins in a traditional I formation with Jorvorskie Lane leading Lamar Miller through a hole perhaps a handful of times in over 700 snaps.
Basically, the Dolphins are attempting to make the most of their offseason acquisitions of Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson by putting them on the field with Brian Hartline. So the Dolphins may be transitioning to a three-receiver set team. Except that when you add a WR to the offense you have to subtract another player because, well, the team's request to play with 12 offensive players in 2013 was denied by the NFL.
So the fullback position has been practically eliminated. (Now we understand why the Vonta Leach chase kind of fizzled).
In a typical Dolphins huddle this camp you have Gibson, Wallace and Brian Hartline as the other starting receiver. No Lane. No fullback at all, really.
Yes, the tight end or H-back (depending on personnel) can serve as the lead blocker. But even that is hardly considered a hammering attempt to be physical because Dustin Keller often is asked to serve as the lead blocker. And if you are aware of Keller's histroy you know he's an accomplished pass-catching tight end. But as a blocker ... he's an accomplished pass-catching tight end.
And Charles Clay's blocking will never be confused with Leach's lead blocking.
So with less blocking from the fullback position and sometimes zero blocking from the fullback position -- because the formation is a one-back set -- the Dolphins would obviously depend on excellent blocking from their offensive line to power their running game.
Do you understand now the higher need this season to have good, stable offensive line play? Simply, if that unit doesn't win up front, there is no fullback reinforcement coming through the hole to help. It's win or the play loses.
Except that, as you'll read in my column the line is definitely not stable right now.
Yes, it's early in camp. Most clubs just opened camp this past weekend while the Dolphins have already been in camp since July 22. But Jerry will be out at least another week at best and perhaps three more weeks. He definitely isn't playing the preseason opener against Dallas in the Hall of Fame game. So time is precious.
Obviously, the Dolphins could decide to shelve their three-wide look as a base offense. (God, I hope not). But that would mean they're putting one of their better players on the bench in favor of a lesser player simply to make the running game better. It's upside down logic.
No, the Dolphins need the offensive line to step up so that the plans so clearly laid out this early in camp aren't scrapped and the 2013 Dolphins don't go back to the more traditional and boring and not as effective in a passing league I-formation sets we've seen in the past.
[NOTES: I will be doing a twitter live chat at 1 p.m. today so if you don't already, follow me on twitter. If you are tech challenged and social media makes your head explode, you can still connect with me today. I'll be here during the scrimmage at Sun Life Stadium starting at 7 p.m. to share some play-by-play with you and answer questions as much as I can.]