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Dolphins must do something at RT

The Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants have made trades in the past week to try to salvage their season. Perhaps they were desperate moves. Perhaps, but they were moves by general managers who have each won multiple Super Bowls and believe in doing everything they can to help their teams improve now.

Perhaps the Dolphins need to get themselves in that kind of company and mindset.

The Dolphins, 3-1 and thick in the hunt for a playoff spot, have a serious problem on their hands in that they cannot protect their quarterback. They can't keep Ryan Tannehill upright as the 18 sacks they've allowed not only suggests but screams at full throat.

So rather than just sitting around and hoping and praying and acting like hard work is going to suddenly turn Tyson Clabo into a 26-year-old version of himself rather than the 32-year-old version we've seen give up four sacks in four games, perhaps the Dolphins should start shopping for an offensive tackle.

Or perhaps the Dolphins should consider moving people around to address that right tackle issue internally.

Either way, perhaps the Dolphins would be better off doing something instead of nothing.

So what can they explore?

Well, I do not blame the Dolphins for not being in on Levi Brown, who was traded from Arizona to Pittsburgh. He's frankly not much of an upgrade on any level. I don't blame them for missing out on Eugene Monroe, who was traded from Jacksonville to Baltimore.

Don't get me wrong, it would have made sense to get Monroe and start him on Sunday at left tackle while moving Jonathan Martin to right tackle. That would have been a good move, considering Monroe instead will be lining up against the Dolphins on Sunday because the Ravens gave up an undisclosed third-day-of-the-draft pick (somewhere between the fourth and seventh round) to get him this week.

A league source has confirmed for me that Jacksonville didn't really make the usual round of phone calls to the entire league to make Monroe available. So the Dolphins apparently didn't know Monroe was available.

But as the trade deadline approaches at the end of this month, perhaps it is time to be more proactive. Perhaps rather than wait on teams to call and say they have players available, maybe the Dolphins should start calling to see if players are available.

There's nothing wrong with being an active shopper.

The Ravens proved this when they called about Monroe and got a good player who wasn't really on the market.

So maybe a call to Tampa Bay to see if Donald Penn is available might be warranted for Miami. This, by the way, was suggested to me by a twitter follower. And looking at it, Penn is playing great and although he's very expensive, he's earning that pay. He'd be a huge upgrade for Miami.

Why would the Bucs trade him?

Well, they probably wouldn't but they did reportedly call the Dolphins to see if Miami would be interested in quarterback Josh Freeman. (The Dolphins obviously said no). So the Bucs are sort of rebuilding. Penn is 30 years old and maybe Tampa Bay can be convinced that a draft pick next year (maybe a third or even a second?) is good business because Penn is 30, expensive, and they aren't winning any titles anytime soon with a rookie QB, anyway.

It's a shot in the dark. And it beats taking no shot at all.

Maybe the Dolphins this weekend arrange a little discussion between Jeff Ireland and Ozzie Newsome. The Dolphins and Ravens GMs can talk about Bryant McKinnie. Maybe after Sunday's game is over, the Dolphins can send a seventh-round pick or perhaps a bag of bolts and door handles to the Ravens for McKinnie.

McKinnie, by the way, isn't the player he once was. He was once dominant. But he's partied too hard and gotten too soft to be very good anymore. His feet are slower. His belly is bigger. He's no longer a star, which is the reason the Ravens are replacing him with Monroe.

But you know what? The combination of LT McKinnie and RT Jonathan Martin is better than the combination of LT Martin and RT Clabo. And maybe McKinnie can lose weight in the Miami heat (Yeah, it is still hot down here). And, again, the Dolphins aren't exactly paying a premium for McKinnie, a player they liked in the spring.

McKinnie, by the way, is available according to a league source. And the idea of a deal is not unfamiliar to him as he raised it himself in an interview with the Baltimore Sun.

"We'll see," McKinnie said Thursday in his usual Australian accent (kidding), "maybe a trade, who knows?"

Obviously, those are not the only two tackles the Dolphins should explore. Explore everyone. Don't. Just. Sit. There.

Don't buy the fiction Joe Phiblin authors when he talks about guys working hard and getting better when the proof on the field truthfully counters that they are not getting any better. Some guys have maximized. Some guys have worked and they are who they are.

Change is needed.

Look in all crooks and nannies for that change. (See what I did there?)

One of the places, by the way, where the Dolphins should look is internally. That's right, on their very own roster.

No, I'm not advocating playing Dallas Thomas. The Dolphins are not that desperate.

I am advocating looking to see if perhaps Nate Garner can compete at right tackle. I am further advocating looking to see if perhaps moving John Jerry from right guard to right tackle might be suitable?

If you recall, Jerry finsished the 2011 season as Miami's left tackle. And he did a credible job when Jake Long went to his annual December appointment with the injured reserve list. The next year, the Dolphins moved him to guard and he's been starting but not starring there ever since.

Jerry is no great shakes at guard. And he'll probably be a mediocre-at-best tackle. But mediocre is still an upgrade from Clabo's four sacks in four games. Four sacks in four games stares longingly at mediocre. 

(Peanut Gallery: But Mando, if you move Jerry from guard to tackle you just create a problem at guard. What are you going to do with that problem?)

Garner is on the roster. Danny Watkins is on the roster. Or look to the trade market for a guard.

Do something.

I caught up with Watkins this week. The theme I came away with after the interview was he wants to compete for a starting job but he's still learning the playbook and Miami's techniques that have been so successful while giving up 18 sacks.

"Definitely feel good about it but there are still a few chinks in the armor so to speak," he said of where he's at. "But I feel good about it. It's definitely a different element coming in at the beginning of the season as opposed to being here for OTAs or training camp so that changes things. I'll go upstairs see the coaches and spend extra time with them watching the film and reviewing what I got to do. We'll draw stuff up if I'm unclear because some of it is new concepts. But they're really good about it."

So how are practices going?

"It's going well," he said. "The biggest thing is learning the technique and the offense. It's a lot better than what it was two weeks ago. It's when you flat line that you start getting in trouble. I'm just continually getting better."

As Dolphins practices are closed, I have no idea if Watkins is improving or not. I do not know if he's any good or not. But I'm hoping the coaching staff isn't simply accepting the status quo for the sake of keeping the offensive line intact.

Garner is also a possibility. Maybe he can be a better right tackle than Clabo. Maybe he can move in as the right guard and let Jerry go at right tackle. The point is not considering it, not trying it is a big mistake.

Obviously this week's game is not the time to try this. But the Dolphins have have a bye next week. That is the time to make changes. That is the time to bring in a player in trade or move Jerry and insert someone else.

Would that upset the continuity of things? Would that seem a bit desperate?

Giving up 18 sacks in four games and perhaps more on the way against Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil should put the Dolphins on the brink of desperation.

And continuity on a line that gives up 18 sacks in four games is not a good thing. It's a bad thing. It only suggests more of the same is coming in the future.