The Miami Dolphins offensive line seems to be in eternal purgatory. Year after year, coach after coach, the one constant is the Dolphins offensive line failing to protect quarterbacks or open holes for running backs. Numerous first round picks, expensive free agents, all for naught. The Dolphins offensive line can’t get it together no matter who they acquire or what they do.
Surely there’s some secret, some reason for Miami’s inability to field a strong offensive line. Is it the scheme? Is it bad drafting? Michael Deiter, is the Dolphins 2019 third round pick. He’s supposed to be a solid guard. So far, however, he’s struggling to keep up with the speed of the NFL. He has moments where he looks solid, and then falls on his face. Obviously, it’s still very early, and Miami will continue to develop Deiter throughout the season.
And the Dolphins seem willing to be patient.
“I think every experience they have is a good one.” head coach Brian Flores said of Deiter and fellow rookie guard Shaq Calhoun. “Every time they see over, under, diamond, odd, double mug, mug in the b-gaps – every time they see that, it’s a good experience for them and one that they can hopefully learn from and then the next time that it comes up, they know how to handle it. I think these situations for those guys, specifically the young guys, but really the entire line working as a group, this is good.”
Tuesday’s joint training camp practice acted as a learning experience for the entire Dolphins offensive line. Tampa Bay’s defensive line is solid, and features a familiar (and just as hard to face) individual in veteran defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
“He was doing Suh things.” Dolphins left tackle Laremy Tunsil said. “Everybody knows what Suh does.”
What Suh does is not hold back. He pulls no punches. Suh went after the young guards, giving them hell and showing them what it means to face an elite lineman.
“He’s a very good player, and I’m sure he’s got even more in the tank at times.” Deiter said. “Just having the opportunity, like the first snap, I look up and Ndamukong Suh’s standing there. It was kinda like, ‘that’s Ndamukong Suh. Are we sure that we’re ready to do this?’ It’s still football, he’s blockable, but he’s really, really good.”
Deiter admits that he feels he did some things well, but there were also a lot of things he did really bad. There’s still a lot he needs to clean up, and that’s going to take time. That also goes for the entire Dolphins offensive line. They need to be physical, like coach Flores wants of his team. That’s the entire point behind them adding a fullback to the roster, and the offensive line needs to be embody that philosophy.
“Just keep working. That’s the main thing.” Tunsil said. “It’s all new guys up there. People are playing different positions – Jesse (Davis) at right tackle, then we’ve got two rookies in there. Just keep improving and we’re going to come together as one. We’re going to watch this film later in the afternoon and get it down, improve our technique, improve our fundamentals and keep working.”
That’s all well and good, but the fact remains that the Dolphins offensive line can’t find a way to handle the basics of blocking. Offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo got so fed up with rookie right tackle Isaiah Prince that he forced the longtime Ohio State starter to stand in a corner for ten minutes. How bad do you have to be to get put in timeout by your coach?
“He’s a fiery, high-energy coach.” Flores said of DeGuglielmo. “I think we have a lot of coaches on this staff with that temperament. He, like myself, gets worked up at times. I think we all do for good and bad plays. That’s a good thing. We’re trying to stay on them, on the players. We try to help them improve and get better. Really, that’s on a play-to-play basis. I love hearing ‘Guge’ out there coaching his guys.
Miami wants to develop these young players. They want them to succeed in 2019. Success now means greater success in 2020, when the Dolphins actually start pushing hard again. Rumors of a trade for pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney (unfounded rumors) have fans excited. Trading for him would be a waste of draft capital, but he would be a huge free agent splash in 2020. The Dolphins will have the cap space to sign him too.
But if the offensive line doesn’t get its act together soon, all pretenses of not trying to tank go out the window. If Miami is serious about wanting to try and win every game, which coach Flores swears up and down they are, the line must improve.