Football is a game won in the trenches, on the offensive side the Dolphins were rarely unable to win that battle. The Bucs, both Bills, the Jets, and the Ravens games are all great examples in which the Dolphins were dominated on the line.
Take away one or two sacks in each game and the Dolphins could have potentially won these games. But instead of looking at the “What If’s”, lets focus on what happened, and where Miami needs to be to not dominate in the trenches, but do enough for their team to win.
Tannehill dropped back to pass 661 times last year, 7th most in the NFL, and also attempted 588 passes the 7th most passes in the NFL. That means there was 73 drop backs that resulted in a sack, scramble, fumble and so on. That was second most among QBs in the top 10 of drop backs last year ( Behind Andrew Luck with 75).
Mike Pouncey was the only linemen on the Dolphins roster who finished with a positive PFF rating, it makes sense that he would the only one to return. The Dolphins also added Branden Albert, someone who is viewed as a high quality left tackle. Along with an unproven Shelley Smith and two plug and play rookies, the Dolphins offensive line should improve quite a bit.
One of the most underrated signings wasn’t a player, but a coach. The Dolphins fired Jim Turner and replaced him with ex Texans O-line coach John Benton. He spent 8 seasons with the Texans where Matt Schaub was never sacked more than 32 times. He is viewed as a top of the line coach who could hopefully turn young guys like Billy Turner, Ju’Wuan James, Sam Brenner and Dallas Thomas into solid NFL starters.
Early in camp, Pouncey, Albert, Turner, and James seem to have a good hold on the starting gig. The one question mark is left guard, where Dallas Thomas (A 3rd round pick from 2013) has found a home early on in OTAs.
The average a playoff QB was sacked last year was 33 times, 15 out of 32 starters were below were below that mark. Even though the Dolphins need to cut back on the sacks, it isn’t necessary to fall near that 33 mark, but 40-45 is a reasonable for a line that has not had time to mold and gain chemistry.