Tag Archives: Michael Deiter

Courtesy of Mark Brown/ Getty Images

Dolphins’ Offensive Line: Surprises and Change

Photo courtesy of Mark Brown/ Getty Images

Coming into training camp the Dolphins’ offensive line was all but set in stone. It was presumed that Jackson and Eichenberg would play tackle with Kindley, Skura and Hunt on the interior. However, after one week of camp practice much has changed. Some have used their versatility to change positions along the line, while others have drastically fallen down the depth chart. With the offensive line a key factor in Tua’s development, who is performing and whose stock is tumbling?

The Presumed Starters Before Camp:

Austin Jackson (LT)

The Good:

Throughout the first week of training camp Jackson looked strong and capable. Having detailed some of my concerns regarding Jackson in one of my previous articles, the early days of camp are promising, especially in terms of his run blocking. Such developments are very welcome after Jackson ranked 76th among 83 tackles in run blocking in 2020.

The Bad:

Overall, relative to the rest of the line Jackson is making some of the necessary improvements to build on his game. With run blocking and footwork a big drawback in his game last season, it is encouraging to see that he is beginning to address them. With only a couple of padded practices in the bag I will look to Jackson to continue to improve on these fundamentals.

Solomon Kindley (LG)

The Bad:

Since finishing the season as one of the best run blocking linemen on the roster, no player has had a bigger fall than Solomon Kindley, who as it stands is a mere camp body. Kindley started camp as the starting left guard, however in the week following he has since been demoted to the second team and then to the third team where he remains to this day.

From being a big guy, starting in the NFL and to an extent holding his own, to being knocked down by third team defensive linemen, Kindley is having a horrible training camp

Speculation has been rife across Twitter regarding the reason behind his fall from grace. The answer is nobody actually knows. Despite initial reports about his weight being too high around 340 lb, Kindley stated that conditioning was not an issue and that he reported at the weight that the Dolphins expected.

This is perhaps one of the most disappointing developments of the whole offseason, following what was a fairly solid rookie season. Kindley now has an huge mountain to climb back up the depth chart. With each practice the starting line builds chemistry and cohesion making it harder for Kindley if he can bounce back, to claim his starting job back.

Matt Skura (C)

To the relief of Kindley he is not the only player who has had a difficult camp. All fans were aware that Skura is by no means a polished product, nor would he answer all of the problems at center. Nevertheless, he was deemed by many to be a solid starting center who just needed to address his snapping issues that he endured last season.

The Good:

Throughout camp we have heard no reports of any botched snaps, which will be a relief to many fans and to Skura. In fact it was Deiter who had a couple of wild snaps which thankfully Tua managed to salvage. In addition, he has showed good drive and determination to get up field and make blocks in the second level.

The Bad:

Despite signing in free agency to be the presumed starter, throughout the entire of training camp that job has fallen to Michael Deiter. Skura has spent the majority camp snapping the ball to Jacoby Brissett in the second team. However, Skura has since been demoted to the third team with Cameron Tom taking second team reps since the first day of padded practice.

All hope is not lost on Skura, while Deiter has had a great start to camp firing out of his stances with good explosion, he remains an unknown at center in the NFL. Given the turnover at left guard, I would not be totally surprised to see a report over the next week with Deiter playing left guard where he flourished in his sole appearance in 2020 with Skura back at center if he can bounce back.

Robert Hunt (RG)

The Good:

To make it simple, Robert Hunt has been by far the best member of the Dolphins’ offensive line, although not perfect. Hunt has started as he ended last season, continuing to improve and not afraid to get those “groovy nails” dirty. Hunt has the physical stature and strength to be able to move the biggest of players on the interior of the Dolphins’ offensive line where he is predicted to be a potential pro-bowler.

“There’s not really a big difference. I can say there’s some heavier bodies in there. There are some fat guys in there. I haven’t played it in a while, but I’m starting to get used to it. I got a couple reps in the spring and I’ve been getting some this week at guard. It’s going well.”

Robert Hunt when asked about the move inside to guard

The Bad:

As previously mentioned, Hunt has not been perfect and more best of the rest. Although a false start in camp is not too big of an issue, we all know about the takes no talent philosophy that Brian Flores preaches. In addition, there were reports of Hunt being dominated by Sieler during the early days of camp. As with all offensive linemen it is hoped that as camp progresses the Dolphins’ offensive line will be able to overcome the advantage that the defensive line typically have at the start of camp.

Liam Eichenberg (RT)

The Good:

Eichenberg has demonstrated his flexibility and versatility from the outset. Following the rapid decline in Solomon Kindley’s performances Eichenberg has shifted inside to be the starting left guard. Any hopes of Eichenberg being a lock at right tackle are at this point out of the window.

While it is true that it is still extremely early coming into camp, over the course of the next week, Brian Flores and Coach Jeanpierre will want to gain some answers sooner rather than later. Following the move to left guard it has been Jesse Davis who has filled the available slot at right tackle. Furthermore, it does not appear that Eichenberg will move back out to tackle any time soon. With Davis not practicing this week, it was 7th round pick Larnel Coleman who took reps at right tackle. Nevertheless, Eichenberg remains a starter.

With D J Fluker parting ways with the organisation via injury settlement, there are question marks at RT if the team is hit with injuries.

The Bad:

Coming out of the 2021 NFL Draft, Eichenberg was considered an NFL ready prospect. However, as is the case with all rookies there is inevitably some teething problems along the way. So far from what has been reported Eichenberg has given up a would be sack on Tua from Jaelan Phillips. In addition, during one on one drills he was repeatedly bullied by Adam Butler.


In summary, the first week of practice has been very up and down for the Dolphins’ offensive line. Where players struggle for whatever reason, all important roster spots and depth positions are there for the taking. Following week one of camp the starting line is: Jackson (LT), Eichenberg (LG), Deiter (C), Hunt (RG) and Davis (RT). Unfortunately, as fans we are left scratching our heads as to what has happened. We can only hope for clarity going forward. Fins Up!

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Looking at the Man in the Middle

Throughout the offseason evaluations, one position was considered a glaring hole. With Ted Karras a free agent following the season, the Dolphins had no clear starting center; a position which is becoming one of the most important in football, a position left wanting since Mike Pouncey left in 2017.

As free agency neared, speculation grew of the prospect of bringing Corey Linsley and then David Andrews to Miami. Despite signing Matt Skura to a one year $1.75m contract, fans remained dissatisfied, as one by one Landon Dickerson, Creed Humphrey and Quinn Meinerz were repeatedly passed on by the Dolphins during the 2021 draft.

There is currently a rhetoric that the Dolphins’ front office does not value the center and running back positions like many others do. Let us not forget the fact that Brian Flores remains the Dolphins Head Coach, a man who is on his fourth offensive line coach during his tenure in charge of the team. For a team with a young QB, the center is the most important position on the line calling the protections, communicating with his fellow linemen as to where the pressure is coming, allowing the skill position players to make the plays.

As defenses become more complex, the center has to adjust. Whilst Ted Karras brought leadership and helped mentor a very young line featuring 3 rookies, one particular area he struggled was when presented with a stunted blitz. Coming into Tua’s second all important season, how will the center position fare?

Matt Skura

After going undrafted in 2016, Matt Skura has since started 51 games during the past four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. On March 18 the Dolphins signed the 6-3 313 pound Skura to a one year $1.75m contract making him their presumed starting center. Throughout his early seasons with the Ravens, Skura was considered one of the NFL’s best centers.

However, his 2020 season was overshadowed to say the least by several botched snaps out of the shotgun formation, most notably in heavy rain in the Sunday Night Football matchup against the Patriots. In week 11 Skura was benched in favor of Patrick Mekari, before eventually starting three of Baltimore’s final six games.

It is safe to say Raven’s fans were not all too impressed, with Skura’s family even receiving threats following the game.

“You’ve got to know your rhythm and you’ve got to first be able to identify the mistakes. I know we’ve talked to you guys about linemen. We dont make excuses. The difference between an excuse and a reason is very slight… What we do is we just rep it. It has to be multiple reps over and over again. Like when we are doing drills, he’s doing it pre-practice, he’s doing it of course during practice, he’s doing it even after practice. You want to do it before something happens. So if it doesn’t feel right, even if you didn’t get a good snap, you want to get more snaps anyway to be preventative, not reactive.”

“He’s been snapping like crazy because that’s the type of guy he is, where he took that really personal. It’s another chip on his shoulder like a lot of the guys on the line are. He’s worked at it. I’ll be preventative and so will he. We talk to the quarterbacks.”

Offensive Line Coach Lemuel Jeanpierre speaking to media May 24 at the start of voluntary OTAs

ESPN ranked Skura the 4th highest center in the NFL in terms of his pass blocking ability, whilst ranking 10th in win rate in his run blocking, an area where the Dolphins struggled in 2020, as the line failed to consistently open running lanes for the backs. Skura played 661 offensive snaps, allowing only three penalties, and one sack in comparison with Karras’ two sacks allowed. We all know Brian Flores’ emphasis on being disciplined in not giving away penalties and making the opposition beat you, rather than beating yourself through penalties.

Throughout the course of researching for this article I reached out to the guys at Ravens ATB for their insight into Skura’s abilities. Skura was described as “a solid starter who proved to be an intelligent center with a great run blocking ability. Skura has a great motor who fights hard on every play.” From this it is very easy to see how he is a fit into the culture that Brian Flores/Chris Grier have created in assembling this roster.

However, they went on to state that in their opinion the successful heavy running scheme that the Ravens deploy “masked a lot of his deficiencies… he is a mediocre pass protector at best and when the Ravens were forced to pass he had trouble holding up in that area.”

With Miami’s young projected starters on the offensive line featuring a rookie and three players coming off their rookie season, it will be evident early on whether his run blocking skills were a reflection of his abilities, or his surrounding support cast in Baltimore.

From his extremely limited time with the Dolphins spanning voluntary OTAs and minicamp, so far so good. We have heard everything we want to hear when it comes to our starting center…absolutely nothing. No reports of botched snaps, even during the monsoon that hit Davie FL day one of minicamp. If Skura can continue to address his snapping concerns he is set to be a solid starting center, not a league leader, but a solid figure in the middle of the line.

If not, the Dolphins cannot afford to hamper Tua, nor the offense with the potential for the wildcat with Lynn Bowden, with a center that cannot snap the ball with consistency leading to unnecessary turnovers like what happened in Baltimore.

Michael Deiter

Although I have every confidence that Matt Skura will be the starting center, if he is not whether based on performance or injury, it will ultimately fall on former Wisconsin Badger Michael Deiter to steady the ship.

2019 was a year to forget for Deiter, the offensive line and the entire organization as a whole. In his rookie season playing primarily at left guard he played 996 snaps allowing 6 sacks (T-2nd most) and 5 penalties. If we conclude that it is not fair to judge Tua based on his rookie season, it seems only fair not to put too much weight on Deiter in the worst offensive line in the league, where his left tackle was changed from Pro-Bowler Laremy Tunsil to Julien Davenport in late August. The 2019 unit allowed a quick pressure within 2.5 seconds on 33% of their dropbacks and were the worst unit and run blocking in the NFL. The entire line was purged in 2020 and completely revamped with the team electing to go in the direction of experience and stability in the form of Ted Karras and Ereck Flowers.

In 2020 Deiter only played 23 snaps, allowing no sacks and no penalties. In the rare glimpses we saw, most notably against the Patriots where following injury to Solomon Kindley, Deiter helped the line in arguably its best performance of the season. Despite having not played a single snap all season beforehand, Deiter helped the offensive line to finally establish both pass and run blocking, whereby Salvon Ahmed became the first 100yd rusher for the Dolphins since Kalen Ballage in 2018 against the Minnesota Vikings.

Given the uncertainty surrounding Skura as it stands, Deiter will have every opportunity to compete during camp to be at the very least a versatile quality depth piece at all three spots on the interior offensive line, or perhaps even a starter once more. Fins Up!

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