Fixing Miami's Offensive Line

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Coming into last season, the Miami Dolphins were hopeful that they would be able to make a run for the postseason. They expected an improvement from then second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, which, outside of the ability to throw a deep ball they got. They spent over one-hundred million dollars in guaranteed money on players such as Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe and Phillip Wheeler. They traded up in the draft to select one of the most versatile and highly rated pass rushers in the class in Dion Jordan. On paper, everything seemed as if the Miami Dolphins were ready to take the next step and challenge the New England Patriots for the division crown.

There was just one problem with the team and that was the performance of the offensive line. Jonathan Martin. Richie Incognito. Mike Pouncey. John Jerry. Tyson Clabo. That was the original starting group for the Miami Dolphins offensive line last season. Although it isn’t a star-studded line-up by any means necessary, the Dolphins front office was confident enough in their abilities to protect Ryan Tannehill. However, it didn’t take long for everyone to realize that this group was not going to be capable of doing that.

Over the course of the first five games of the season, Ryan Tannehill was on his back more than he was on his feet. The Dolphins offensive line was on a record-breaking pace for most sacks allowed in one season. In order, they started off the season giving up four sacks to Cleveland, five sacks to both Indianapolis and Atlanta, four sacks to New Orleans and six sacks to the Baltimore Ravens. Change at the line was inevitable, however, the only question remaining was what exactly was going to change.

Just two weeks after giving up six sacks against the Ravens, former Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland executed a trade with, none other than the Ravens. The Dolphins acquired left tackle Bryant McKinnie to help with the pass protection. This meant that left tackle Jonathan Martin would move over to the right side, thus forcing the benching of Tyson Clabo

McKinnie’s first game with the Dolphins was on October 27th as the team headed up to Foxborough to play the New England Patriots. The upgrade didn’t exactly work out how the Dolphins had expected it to. The team gave up six sacks and McKinnie was noted as playing very sluggish.

Then, just a few days later the, Miami Dolphins offensive line completely collapsed as Jonathan Martin left the team for “emotional” reasons. It was first reported that Martin had been victimized by other members of the offensive line. Just days after Martin had left the team, it was originally reported that Richie Incognito was head of the group that performed actions that were deemed detrimental to Jonathan Martin. Incognito was suspended the very next day. This was only the beginning of the collapse of the offensive line.

Throughout the rest of the season, the Dolphins played with a make-shift line. It’s tough to point fingers, but you could easily argue that this was the reason why the Dolphins failed to reach the playoffs. In a game in which the Dolphins could have clinched a playoff spot, the offensive line was completely dominated by the Buffalo Bills. The Bills were able to rack up seven sacks, including two to Kyle Williams and Nickell Roby.

Then came the Ted Wells Report. Ted Wells, who was hired by the NFL to investigate the Jonathan Martin/Miami Dolphins incident, released his findings last month. “The Report concludes that three starters on the Dolphins offensive line, Richie Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey, engaged in a pattern of harassment directed at not only Jonathan Martin, but also another young Dolphins offensive lineman and an assistant trainer.” Not only were the three players named above listed in the report, but offensive line coach Jim Turner was as well. According to the report, Turner lied multiple times in his interviews with the NFL and often participated in the harassment. This, along with the horrid play of the offensive line, gave the Dolphins no other choice but to dismiss Coach Turner of his job.

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