The Miami Dolphins have had a great offseason, but they have not really addressed the most important unit on a football team – the offensive line. Jake Long is out, rookie Dallas Thomas and currently injured Lance Louis are in which leaves several question marks on this line. Richie Incognito had a good 2012, and Mike Pouncey is on the verge of stardom, but that still leaves three spots unspoken for currently and hopes that Jonathan Martin can be legit going forward.
The 2013 Dolphins have a second year quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) and a second year running back (Lamar Miller, plus rookie Mike Gillislee) expected to get a ton of action. So with such little experience, it is somewhat worrisome to see the question marks on the o-line, but I have a lot of faith in head coach Joe Philbin and offensive line coach Jim Turner who combine for about 40 years of coaching/developing o-lineman.
Turner came over to the ‘Phins with offensive coordinator Mike Sherman in 2012 after they had several years together at Texas A&M. During their time running the Aggies that offensive line was outstanding and Turner gets most of the credit for that.
Philbin earned his head coach job by putting in numerous years (paying his dues) in several stops at the college and NFL levels. He most recently was the offensive coordinator with the Green Bay Packers, but his duties were more along the lines of coaching up the offense (especially the o-line) during the week as it was head coach Mike McCarthy who called the plays on gameday.
After you get past Incognito and Pouncey (and hopefully J-Mart will be good), you are left with guys like John Jerry, Will Yeatman, Josh Samuda, rookie Thomas, injured Louis, and Nate Garner. I would consider that a cupboard that is almost empty, but I remain optimistic because I feel that Philbin and Turner have coaching abilities that will raise the level of play for enough of these guys that the ‘Phins can keep Tanny upright and also create opportunities for big Miller romps.
The 2012 Dolphins yielded just 37 sacks (middle of the pack), but only a handful of teams passed the ball less than Miami. ‘Phins QBs were dropped about seven percent of the time in 2012 (bottom third of NFL), and considering we will see many more Tanny passes in 2013 that seven percent has to improve.
The 2012 Dolphins’ road running game was the worst in the NFL, so the team needs Philbin and Turner to get that unit playing much better than that if they are going to improve on their seven-win season. The ‘Phins have (by far) the toughest home schedule of any AFC East team so getting improved play overall (especially on the road) from the o-line will be paramount or 2013 could be long and ugly (article on Dolphins’ tough 2013 home schedule is HERE).
I would expect the Dolphins to add a veteran lineman soon, but even so the success of the unit will come from how well Philbin and Turner can coach them up.