Amid rumors of interest in signing another tackle, the idea has surfaced that the Miami Dolphins might be comfortable with their current offensive line unit.
The tweet, coming from ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques, points the finger at Miami’s scheme, proposing that GM Chris Grier may be content with his current personnel. However, they believe that the slew of draft picks struggled to develop due to Brian Flores’ coaching staff and their offensive philosophy.
The Dolphins have their fair share of big guys up front. Over the last few years, they have spend significant draft capital on talented prospects. Among them, Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt, Michael Dieter, and Liam Eichenberg were all drafted in the first three rounds. However, only Hunt has shown consistent success, and none have been able to elevate this line to a respectable unit.
Struggles Along the Miami Dolphins Offensive Line
By all major statistics, Miami’s 2021 unit was among the worst in the league. Game after game, they were unable to run the ball, with Tua Tagovailoa having little time to pass as well. Shockingly, the the Dolphins were around the middle of the pack in sacks allowed. However, that stat is quite misleading. Miami prioritized getting the ball out quickly in their offense, which prevented them from having a stable attack.
This, when combined with a variety of offensive issues, led to Miami starting 1-7 and missing the playoffs. In a year that the Dolphins’ had heightened expectations, ownership wasn’t willing to deal with such a low offensive output. Thus, Brian Flores was fired and took the brunt of the blame for the lack of development along the line.
New Year, New Scheme
With Mike McDaniel coming in, many expected new lineman to come in, as to fit a very different scheme. Unlike the offenses under Flores, McDaniel runs a wide-zone scheme, which I broke down in a previous article.
Long story short, Miami needed more linemen who can move well in space, rather than more power-centric blockers.
This boded well for them going into free agency. Big name tackles, such as Terron Armstead and La’el Collins, were nearly perfect fits for what McDaniel and company hoped to accomplish. It was just a matter of using their cap space, which was among the most in the league, to lock up this talent.
However, we are almost a week into free agency and Miami hasn’t addressed their tackle situation. As far as guard is concerned, they brought in Connor Williams from Dallas, who seems like a solid starter. Despite a high number of penalties, he ranked 11th out of all guards last season in PFF grade. The interior of the line is coming together, but the tackles remain shaky, at best.
A Lack of Action
Collins and Armstead are sitting on the market, and are even scheduling meetings with other teams. Collins, who drew interest from Miami early on, is meeting with the Bengals, and it seems like he may sign. Armstead, on the other hand, seems to be waiting on a decision from quarterback Deshaun Watson, who should pick a new team soon.
With two players of this caliber on the market, Miami hasn’t been nearly aggressive enough. They want to win now. With their biggest needs being up front, their new offense will struggle — no matter the scheme — if the personnel isn’t up to par.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s development has been shaky, and much of that stunted growth can be attributed to the talent around him. He will be entering his third year in the NFL, already having endured three offensive coordinators. If this lack of continuity in coaching is to work, it is crucial to provide protection.
Mike McDaniel looks like the difference-maker that Dolphins fans are looking for, and his other signings have been exciting. Weapons such as Raheem Mostert, Chase Edmonds, and Cedrick Wilson Jr. all bring high ceilings, and bring an element of explosiveness that Miami’s offense hasn’t seen in a long time. However, none of this will matter if they don’t solve the issue that has plagued them for decades. The issue that has ruined several offensive coordinators, head coaches, and quarterbacks: the offensive line.
The Bottom Line on the Miami Dolphins Offensive Line
Armstead and Collins still remain, but time is running out. If Miami doesn’t put themselves out there, they will have gone another year without fixing this glaring hole. It will continue to linger, and this blemish will show on the records of Grier and McDaniel, and may change the course of their careers.
This free agency marks an early turning point in this regime, and it is up to the Miami Dolphins to solve the problem and truly fix their offensive line.