The Miami Dolphins defeated the Buffalo Bills yesterday 30-23 behind a dominating defensive performance and 203 rushing yards from running back Reggie Bush. But, it may have been another player who was really the story of the game. With All-Pro left tackle Jake Long missing a game for the first time in his four-year career, the Dolphins had to find a replacement to anchor the offensive line.
At least for a week, the Dolphins turned to an unlikely source for that anchor - John Jerry.
A second year player, Jerry has been seen as a disappointment since he was drafted. Fans were disappointed when Jerry was picked by Miami - bypassing guys like dynamic tight end Jimmy Graham (who former football czar Bill Parcells said he thought he could get a round later). Jerry's inability to claim a starting position on the line has continued to disappoint.
But that disappointment seems to be fading. Jerry has played well in spot duty this year, including a start at right guard to replace an injured Vernon Carey. Now, Jerry has performed well in guarding quarterback Matt Moore's blind side.
Jerry has demonstrated this year that he was willing to work. Over the last month, he has spent time after every practice working with quality control coach Tony Sparano, Jr. on his footwork. He has done everything, and played every position, asked from his coaches. And, he is starting to show the potential that everyone expected from him.
"We thought he competed," interim head coach Todd Bowles stated after the game. "The biggest thing about John is he's physical and he likes to compete. We have to clean up some technical things about him in the pass game and that type of thing, but he put his weight on some people, he moved some piles, and that was a very positive thing."
Jerry did not allow a sack during his first game on the left side of the offensive line. During the game, Long would mentor Jerry, trying to assist as best he could. But, Jerry's performance shows, he at least can serve as Long's primary back up, if he doesn't earn himself a starting position somewhere else on the line.