No, the Current Miami Dolphins Offensive Line is not Good Enough

The Miami Dolphins have made several moves in Free Agency, but have failed to address their biggest need thus far.

Miami Dolphins offensive line

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.

Why Terron Armstead Makes Perfect Sense for the Miami Dolphins

Star Offensive Tackle Trent Armstead is set to be a free agent next month, and the Miami Dolphins seem like the perfect destination for him.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - DECEMBER 16: Terron Armstead #72 of the New Orleans Saints in action against the Indianapolis Colts during a game at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on December 16, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)  Terron Armstead Miami Dolphins
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins recently filled out their coaching staff, with Mike McDaniel and company ready for their first offseason. With free agency starting in under a month, McDaniel’s vision for the future will slowly come to fruition.

But, as seen through staff hires and past success, the basis of that vision lies with the offensive line.

Miami has had no shortage of offensive line issues. Quarterbacks have been ill-protected dating back several regimes, and the Dolphins didn’t have a 1,000-yard rusher under Brian Flores. The last time Miami had a Pro-Bowl offensive lineman was 2015, Joe Philbin’s final season at the helm.

This completely contradicts McDaniel’s style, however. San Francisco was stacked with offensive linemen, and their offense thrived because of it. In addition, they have managed to acquire top-tier talent year in and year out, with their most significant acquisition coming through a trade.

On April 25, 2020, the 49ers traded a third and fifth-round pick in exchange for All-Pro Tackle Trent Williams. Coming off of injury concerns, Williams’ value was at its lowest point. As a result, San Francisco was able to take advantage of the market and change their protection for the foreseeable future.

Williams’ arrival revolutionized the Niners’ line. His ability to pull on zone runs made him difficult to beat, with running to his side yielding elite results. He also took the pressure off of young guns on the line, such as Mike McGlinchey and Laken Tomlinson. They have seen significant improvement since he arrived.

Trent Williams is elite at pulling in the outside zone game.

It’s clear that the veteran presence brought by Williams immensely helped Mike McDaniel’s offenses in the past, and another tackle could do the same for Miami.

Terron Armstead

As the New Orleans Saints find themselves in an unaccommodating cap situation, some high-quality starters will be cap casualties. However, none are as vital as starting offensive tackle Terron Armstead, who will hit the market in March.

Terron Armstead is an Elite pass blocker.

He has been among the league’s best offensive tackles, leading a Saints unit that thrived during his tenure. The three-time Pro-Bowler has secured the left side of New Orleans’ line since 2013, and it’s almost unprecedented to see someone of his caliber hit the market.

Much like Trent Williams, Armstead’s success has come from combining elite traits with stellar technique. His speed off the ball is top-notch, and he can keep the pocket clean while mauling in the run game. He has consistently found ways to shut down the league’s best pass rushers while opening up holes for backs like Alvin Kamara.

However, Terron’s availability comes at an interesting time. He only played eight games in 2021, and hasn’t played a full season in his career.

He will also be demanding a high price tag, being one of the only significant tackles on the market, with many teams looking for his services. However, even with these potential concerns, the Miami Dolphins should be at the top of the list of teams vying for free agency’s top offensive tackle.

Dolphins Offensive Line

The aforementioned offensive line struggles reached their breaking point for Miami in 2021. The Dolphins were ranked the worst by almost every metric, struggling to protect the quarterback or find a consistent run game.

Miami hasn’t struggled to allocate resources, however. Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt, and Liam Eichenberg were all drafted in the first two rounds of the last two drafts. Unfortunately, their performance has been inconsistent, although partly due to not having a successful veteran in the room.

That’s where Terron Armstead comes in. When healthy, he’s one of the best tackles in football. His mobility in the run game supports Mike McDaniel’s zone scheme, and his ability to pass block on an island would give Tua more time. Furthermore, he would provide Miami’s young lineman someone to look up to. Terron has been the epidemy of consistency, and having someone like that in the locker room can only help.

Terron Armstead fits in well with Mike McDaniel’s scheme.

The Bottom Line on Terron Armstead and the Miami Dolphins

He may be looking for around 20 million dollars, but Miami has more than enough money. To build around their young talent, Miami leads the league in cap space. They possess the funds to re-sign their top guys while also bringing in someone such as Armstead to fill their most significant need.

The injuries may be a concern, but it’s clear that these opportunities don’t come often. But the former Saints starter can change the game for this offense, much like Trent Williams did in San Francisco. Mike McDaniel observed the drastic changes in his offenses, and I’d bet he’s chomping at the bit to make the big move. So it just makes sense for him to end up with the Miami Dolphins, and signing him should be their number one priority.

Dolphins’ Offensive Line: Surprises and Change

Coming into training camp the Dolphins’ offensive line was all but set in stone. However, after one week of practice much has changed.

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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Miami Dolphins: Offensive Versatility

As we all know the Miami Dolphins love versatility. Based on the past two drafts and free agent signings, Miami looks for players that can help the team in more than one way. This week we take a look at some of the more versatile players on Miami’s offense and their impact during the 2021-2022 season.

As we all know the Miami Dolphins love versatility. Based on the past two drafts and free agent signings, Miami looks for players that can help the team in more than one way. This week we take a look at some of the more versatile players on Miami’s offense and their impact during the 2021-2022 season.

Lynn Bowden Jr.

It only makes sense that Bowden is the first player on this list. The former high school and college quarterback is one of the more exciting ball carriers in the NFL. Before becoming a Miami Dolphin, Bowden was drafted by the Raiders and was going to be a running back until things fell through with them and he was traded to Miami.

His play-making ability has been evident very early in his career. For those who do not know, here is the viral video of his mind-blowing touchdown that happened in high school:

Bowden’s amazing full-field touchdown

This ability to make people miss has followed him to every level of football and Miami fans saw that last year. Last season there were multiple times where it looked like Bowden was going to be stopped for a short gain and he turned it into a decent chunk of yardage.

Bowden will play a majority of his snaps in the slot just like last season, but after having a full offseason with Miami, Eric Studesville and George Godsey (the 2021 co-offensive coordinators) may have some tricks up their sleeve. Last season Bowden did throw a pass and the co-offensive coordinators may include a wildcat set specifically for Bowden.

Robert Hunt

Yes, an offensive lineman is one of Miami’s most versatile players. As we saw last year, Hunt can be a very good offensive tackle in the NFL. That being said, Hunt has the potential to be an elite guard.

Hunt provides two key blocks on a huge Ahmed gain

Having a player that is skilled in both positions on the line is extremely helpful especially later on in the season when players go down with injuries. Even though Miami added some much-needed depth this offseason, Hunt’s starting job is not in jeopardy. Free-agent signings D.J. Fluker and Matt Skura will mentor Hunt as he is still learning how NFL defensive linemen try to get off blocks, polishing his technique, and recognizing defensive and offensive schemes.

Hunt will be one of our best offensive linemen this season and may even make the pro bowl. From day one he will be our starting guard and show everyone he deserves to be there. Hunt’s experience at tackle could come in handy later on in the season if one of our tackles does get injured so don’t be surprised if he ends up switching between the two positions this season.

Myles Gaskin

Plenty of people, myself included, wanted Miami to draft a running back early in the 2021 NFL Draft. That was not the case and it seems like Miami is giving the keys to Myles Gaskin this season to show everyone what he is capable of.

Obviously last season having to deal with COVID-19 and injuries, Gaskin had limited playing time. But as many people have pointed out, Gaskin would have had one of the better seasons for a running back if he played the full 16 games. Last season Gaskin showed his ability to catch the ball and run block, two key areas for a running back in today’s NFL. This was a breath of fresh air as during his rookie year we saw very little of this from him.

Gaskin shows off his pass-catching ability and his ability to make defenders miss

As I said above, Miami believes in Gaskin and doubled down on him by not drafting a running back early. Expect Gaskin to get at least 20 touches a game whether he receives more targets in the passing game or opportunities to run the ball. Other backs such as Salvon Ahmed and Malcolm Brown will get their share of carries as well, but Gaskin is this team’s bell-cow back going forward.

Hunter Long

The Miami Dolphins selected Long in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft in hopes to boost the offense and potentially replace either Mike Gesicki or Durham Smythe who are both free agents after this season. It was a shock that Miami even drafted Long with three tight ends already on the roster but his skill set will improve Miami’s offense over the course of the year.

Hunter Long showing off his athleticism with a nice contested catch

At Boston College, Long did it all offensively. He lined up outside, in the slot, as a wing, and tight end. This gave defensive coaches headaches as they never knew where Long would line up. In addition to playing almost every position, Long is an exceptional run block AND pass catcher. Having the ability to do all of this at a high level is very beneficial for Long as he can act as he can line up as a slot receiver and block one play, then go out and route a route the next.

Long’s expectations this season shouldn’t be too high unless Mike Gesicki goes down. His workload, especially early on in the season, will be very light as he gets used to the playbook. That being said, later on in the season when Miami makes a playoff push (or even in the playoffs) Long could be their secret weapon to jumpstart the offense.

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Austin Jackson: Allowing Pressure?

From a historically bad 2019 season, the 2020 Miami Dolphins’ offensive line made considerable strides towards improvement, nevertheless question marks remain. One particular uncertainty is that of the position of Austin Jackson. Despite what can only be regarded as a trying season, having been asked to be the starter from the outset, Jackson appears to have his position locked down heading into 2021, with there being no heir apparent at the position. If this is true, it is Jackson who needs to make the biggest jump in his second year to live up to the expectations of the 18th overall selection.

From a historically bad 2019 season, the 2020 Miami Dolphins’ offensive line made considerable strides towards improvement, nevertheless question marks remain. One particular uncertainty is that of the position of Austin Jackson. Despite what can only be regarded as a trying season, having been asked to be the starter from the outset, Jackson appears to have his position locked down heading into 2021, with there being no heir apparent at the position. If this is true, it is Jackson who needs to make the biggest jump in his second year to live up to the expectations of the 18th overall selection.

Coming out of the 2020 draft we knew that Jackson was a very raw prospect. Aged only 20 he was a great athlete with all the physical traits required, but needed to refine his technique to make it in the NFL. Not to mention the obvious challenges that all rookies faced last season, that have been repeated endlessly, it would be unfair to think that those concerns had just gone away and he was NFL ready week one. Contrast this with the analysis of Liam Eichenberg, the Notre Dame, NFL ready tackle who hasn’t allowed a sack in his last 33 games; the positions of the two are very different indeed.

PFF ranked Jackson 78th out of 83 qualifying tackles, a rating is not necessarily a true reflection of his play. Jackson started 13 games, missing three games with a foot injury allowing 4 sacks. In fact 18 tackles allowed more sacks including Andrew Thomas, who the Dolphins were at a point rumored to be trading up for (farcical I know) yielding 10 sacks, whilst Mekhi Becton allowed 7 with the Jets. However, Jackson did allow a further 40 QB pressures, whilst his run blocking was nothing to write home about either, which was ranked 76th among 83 qualifying tackles. Jackson’s performance becomes more open to question following the relatively successful rookie campaigns of Solomon Kindley and Robert Hunt, who were both selected after Jackson. From week 12 onward, Hunt was the fifth best right tackle in the league with a PFF grade of 76.4.

Jackson’s worst performances unsurprisingly coincided with the offenses worst games, the matchup with the Broncos immediately comes to mind. Looking back it is almost painful to watch, as time after time Bradley Chubb dominated the rookie. There were several instances whereby Jackson would be beaten without actually ever getting his hands on the rusher, with Chubb merely running round him untouched. Coming into his second year, Jackson needs to work on his reactions; at times it seems like he focuses too much on where he is supposed to be blocking according to the playbook, rather than anticipating where the pressure is coming from in real time. Whilst all of this may seem like an indictment of Jackson, this is nothing that cannot be resolved with more and more reps. Let us not forget that tackle is one of the toughest positions to play as a rookie in a normal season, it is evident that at present the game is merely moving too quick for Jackson.

There were times throughout the season where it was a benefit that Tua is left handed, meaning that the left side was not his blindside.

Jackson appeared to play his best football when there was not as much space around him, in essence when he had tight ends blocking alongside him, making him more akin to a guard rather than a tackle. However, with Solomon Kindley the favorite to lock down the left guard position, whilst Robert Hunt has also moved from tackle to guard. It is expected that Hunt’s ceiling is much higher playing as a potential pro-bowl guard, so playing Jackson on the interior may not be an option. This is where the versatility instilled within this roster can be extremely beneficial and could potentially be season saving if things dont go to plan. If Jackson continues to struggle, the Dolphins do have the fallback option, if needed to shift Eichenberg to LT and then Hunt/Davis/Fluker or even Eluemunor back out to RT and then play Jackson and Kindley at guard. It is hoped that Jackson’s performances improve so that such contingency options are not required. So what is Jackson doing to improve?

“There’s a lot of new things, new adjustments from college to the pros, but one little thing I try to live by is I try not to make the same mistake twice. So whenever I come into a situation, make sure I do what I’ve got to do to get past it and get better, and make sure I’m getting better every single day.

The game slows down the longer you play. I think the first year, you learn a lot. The second year, you kind of handle more. So I would say I would expect to get a lot better next year, and then the year after that and then the year after that.”

Austin Jackson

Austin Jackson has been working on all aspects of his play throughout the offseason. One particular point of emphasis he states is in his knee bend and being able to get lower giving him more flexibility. Coming into his second year he acknowledges that he has seen strides in his development as a result of having a years playing experience under his belt. With the knowledge he has learnt from a trying rookie season, he is using that to put into his training, whilst refining his approach and technique to be consistent in his performances week in week out.

Whilst this tweet may not have aged well since Jackson was drafted, it is hoped that Jackson will be able to assert more dominance in his matchups in 2021 like he did for the Trojans.


While it may be Tua the highlighted player in the national media as being the Dolphins player under the most pressure to perform, it is the development and performance of Austin Jackson that will be just as vital to this offense. 2020 was not a disaster of a season for Jackson, but was very much below par of the 18th overall selection and pressure is mounting to show a quick improvement. Once again this article is by no means an indictment on Jackson or a call to move on. There is no doubt about it he is a stand out guy, an excellent character off the field and most importantly a team guy. He has everything Brian Flores and Chris Grier could want off the field, the question is can he dominate on it? Over the past three drafts whilst Brian Flores has been at the helm, the Dolphins have drafted 7 offensive linemen, signing 4 free agents this season alone on the line. Flores and Grier seem like men possessed to fix the holes within the line. Be in no doubt, Jackson will be under the microscope this season to improve, or risk looking over his shoulder next offseason for the next experiment on the line. Fins Up!

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