When the Miami Dolphins hired Mike McDaniel as their head coach, everybody knew he was going to bring an offensive structure and a new zone-blocking scheme. To the surprise of many, the Dolphins brought back all of their young offensive linemen, who struggled under Brian Flores; in fact, some of them looked lost, and that included former first-round pick, Austin Jackson. McDaniel and his coaching staff believed that these guys could be coached up, but with McDaniel being a new coach, it meant a year to evaluate what he has and see if any of the players will be a part of the team moving forward.
Jackson struggled during his first two years and got moved around to different positions. He started out at left tackle, where he played in college, and that didn’t work out, so they moved him to left guard. He might have been worse in that position. McDaniel and his staff had Jackson play exclusively right tackle when the off-season started, and he stayed there all of training camp. McDaniel thought his athleticism would fit perfectly in his zone-blocking scheme.
Jackson, all of the off-season and training camp, played well and held on to the starting job. He played well in the preseason. I was really curious how he would play during the season and see if the Dolphins could save his career. Unfortunately for Jackson, he got hurt in the season opener and had to go on injured reserve but had a designation to return. He came back against the Houston Texans and reinjured his ankle, and was just placed on injured reserve again, which will probably end his season. This means it will be a lost season in this offense.
Jackson will come back next year and compete for the right tackle spot, I’m sure, but the Dolphins will look at other players to compete with him, I’m sure. Jackson also will be entering the 4th and final year of his rookie contract. The Dolphins will most likely not exercise the 5th-year option on him, meaning it will be a make-or-break year for him moving forward.
McDaniel and the staff see some talent in Jackson; otherwise, they wouldn’t have put him in the starting lineup against the Texans after Brandon Shell had played well, so maybe there is some hope. However, Jackson must stay healthy and be on the field. It’s sadly a lost season for him. I was looking forward to seeing if the new staff could untap the potential that made him a first-round pick in 2020, but I’ll have to wait another year. However, nothing is guaranteed for Jackson.
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