Offensive Line Has Only Scratched The Surface of Their Potential

One of the biggest question marks going into the season for the Miami Dolphins was how would their offensive line play with 4 new starters and no preseason to build continuity. Through 5 games, the Dolphins offensive line has been one of the biggest strengths of the team.

Last year at this time, they were constantly getting pushed in the backfield unable to open up running lanes and getting the quarterback sacked as well as getting hit far too often. This year it’s been a different story. The line isn’t getting pushed back, rather they are holding their own at the line of scrimmage and giving quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick time to throw.

If you are going to have a good offense it all starts up front. The Dolphins have had a solid rotation in rookies Austin Jackson, Solomon Kindley, and Robert Hunt to go along with free agents Ereck Flowers and Ted Karras as well as incumbent Jesse Davis. All 6 have played and have more than held their own especially the rookie the spotlight doesn’t appear too big for the 3 youngsters at this time.

I know it’s a small sample size, but it’s encouraging. When Jackson was drafted, many experts felt he needed time to develop and might not be ready to play right away, but in training camp, he grabbed the bull by the horns and took the job from incumbent Julien Davenport. Kindley playing his natural position at right guard fit in perfectly and like Jackson has yet to give up a sack this year.

Davis’ versatility has been big especially since he has had to shift to left tackle with Jackson on injured reserve for at least a few weeks, which opened the door for Hunt to get his first start of the season at right tackle and did very good playing all of the snaps on offense.

I wasn’t sure about Flowers and Karras as the starters because Flowers has only played left guard one season and that was last year so I wasn’t sure if his play was a fluke and was worthy of the contract he got, but he sure has proven me wrong so far. Karras, on the other hand, played only one full season as a starting center for the New England Patriots because their center David Andrews had to miss the season with a medical condition. He played well last year, but I wasn’t sure if he was a product of the Patriots system, but so far so good as he has held his own at center.

This offensive line was supposed to be better in run blocking than pass blocking, but so far this season it’s been the opposite as they have allowed only 8 sacks through 5 games and that’s a far cry from a year ago. The running game however hasn’t gotten going as I would like.

In week 2 against the Buffalo Bills, the Dolphins were trailing 17-13 and had the ball at the Bills 1-yard line. This is where the Dolphins had a chance to seize the momentum, but they failed to score a touchdown on 4 tries and that’s where the Dolphins needed to establish their physicality to punch it in on the ground. The Dolphins have been inconsistent, to say the least running the ball. On Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, they ran it 33 times for only 94 yards which isn’t all that good. It’s good the Dolphins tried to run the ball, but when you run it 33 times you should get well over 100 yards. Maybe the Dolphins don’t have the running back they are looking for, that’s possible, but you have to run it better than their 3.7-yard average. I know it’s a small sample through 5 games, but it has to improve especially when they get a lead like they did Sunday to control the clock to put the game away.

The Dolphins have 11 games to go and I feel this line will continue to get better the more they play together with each snap. There will be times where inexperience could hurt them, but so far I like what I see. They are also going to face some better front lines in the coming weeks in the Los Angelas Rams and Los Angelas Chargers which will be good measuring sticks with the pass rushers those defenses have. The offensive line is an encouraging sign for this team moving forward and they need to continue to strive to get better because I believe they are only scratching the surface with how good they could be as a whole.