NFL Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins LT Jonathan Martin Will Exceed Expectations In 2013

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

There is a lot of concern from Dolfans about how the 2013 offensive line for the Miami Dolphins will perform as they protect precious cargo (the franchise aka Ryan Tannehill) and are tasked with opening holes for guys like Lamar Miller and Mike Gillislee, who have a combined 51 carries at the NFL level. I am comfortable having Richie Incognito at left guard, and Mike Pouncey is about to be a household name for centers (article on my prediction that Pouncey will make the 2013 Pro Bowl squad is HERE). The right side of the line may be in flux this season (article on right guard is HERE) and many are concerned by the fact that Tannehill’s blindside will be protected going forward by second-year man Jonathan Martin. I am in the minority as I believe Martin will be good, and this article is a look at why.

Head coach Joe Philbin has a ton of experience working with and developing offensive lines, so I am confident that he can help Martin raise his game to a legit NFL level of play. I was very pleased to hear Philbin talk about Martin in the offseason, saying he felt the young man wanted to “get it” and was putting in a legit amount of work to step his game up. We know Philbin is looking for football players with specific work ethics and it looks like Martin fits the bill.

Martin protected the blindside of Andrew Luck at Stanford University (started 37 games as a left tackle in college) and he spent Dec. at left tackle for the 2012 Dolphins when Jake Long went down to injury. The previous 12 games saw Martin at right tackle, and the results were fairly poor, but his play at left tackle was good (not great at all…but good). Having Incognito beside Martin should help the 6’5″, 320 pound second-year lineman.

In the offseason, it seemed to me like if the Dolphins upped their offer to Long, even by a small amount, they would have been able to re-up with the big fella, yet they did not budge from their terms and consequently, Long bolted to the St. Louis Rams. For me that was another indicator that Philbin and offensive line coach Jim Turner are confident that Martin is a guy that will get the job done for them.

We know there are aspects of Martin’s game that need improving. He often struggles against speed rushers, and he needs to get better at keeping defensive lineman from getting hits on his quarterback. He also needs to get better at preventing his man from hurrying his QB, but at left tackle he seems to be more comfortable, and I think he will improve in these areas. He is a solid run blocker already, but his ability to keep Tannehill’s blindside safe and sound is where he will be judged going forward.

Bottom line for me is that Martin’s ability plus input from coaches Philbin and Turner will turn Martin into a legit NFL left tackle in the making.

Craig Ballard is a NFL/NBA/MLB writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @craigballard77, and you can find all of his articles HERE