The offensive line is the central hub of safety and protection for the offensive unit. It is known as the group that keeps to itself. In order for it to be successful it is a necessity that it becomes one cohesive unit. This is the unit that has troubled the Miami Dolphins for more than a decade Last season it exploded both on and off the field. First on the field, where the Dolphins were at times better off having no one in front Ryan Tannehill. The line gave up a league leading 58 sacks last season, 8 more than the Jaguars who were in 2nd. Off the field, it may have somehow been worse with the scandal that went on specifically within the offensive line. It ended with two different offensive linemen seeking therapy, and two others being released from the team. Seems like the 2014 season could only be a massive improvement.
The Dolphins come into the 2014 season with a brand new offensive line, not one or two positions changed, an entirely new starting 5 will take the field against the New England Patriots to kickoff the regular season. Now it isn’t all scary; Branden Albert the free agent acquisition from the Kansas City Chiefs is a clear upgrade at left tackle, being he was in the pro bowl just last season. Ja’Wuan James at right tackle comes in as a player who started 49 games for the University of Tennessee, and in spite of being a reach at the 19th pick, is a clear upgrade. The most important parts of the offensive line are the tackle spots, which are clear upgrades for the Fins. The other positive going into camp is the off the field nonsense has totally been eradicated. Martin, Incognito, and Jerry are all gone with also a change at offensive line coach; this gives the team a much-needed fresh start upfront on offense.
The bad, and the ugly are not far behind the good when it comes to the Fins offensive line. The one returning lineman to this unit is Pro Bowl Center Mike Pouncey. Pouncey had late off-season hip surgery and is scheduled to be out 6-8 weeks. The Dolphins were forced to substitute an inexperienced player at the position that is supposed to be the leader of the offensive line. The center may not get the glory of the left and right tackle, but the center is who makes the offensive line calls. Even more important… the center snaps the ball into play. The snap is not usually something many people give much of a thought to, you know outside of Pee Wee football. However, in the early part of training camp fill-in center Shelley Smith has struggled so much at snapping the ball, that he has already been removed from the position. Nate Garner is expected to step in; he saw a lot of time filling in along the offensive line last season. The other issue is the right guard spot, it’s wide open and no clear-cut favorite has come into view. A major cause of concern refers back to the strong bond necessary for an offensive line to succeed. The fact none of these 5 players will have ever played alongside one another is the scariest thought. Offensive lines that succeed in the NFL usually have a great deal of playing time together. The line is built to play off of one another; whether it is picking up a blitz, or double-teaming a sacking threat, the line works together. These are issues that as camp has opened remain glaring for the Dolphins.
The Miami Dolphins offensive line, after giving up the most sacks of any team in the NFL last season, can only improve. Adding a Pro Bowl left tackle and spending the 19th overall pick on right tackle are good ways to start. The signing of Daryn Colledge is another smart move; he is a former Super Bowl Champion with 108 starts under his belt. This leaves the thought that Ryan Tannehill may have a chance to stand upright and demonstrate some improvement in his 3rd campaign with the Fins. There are still obvious negatives with the offensive line, outside the lack of a replacement center. The other major issue is the lack of experience together between the unit, will make the season a work in progress. What should be expected from the 2014 Miami Dolphins? There will be early bumps and bruises, but the sound off-season additions alone will leave this group vastly improved over what we last saw from the Dolphins offensive front in 2013. Sit back, relax, and this time around you can uncover your eyes.