When I got to the Phinsider before the game Sunday, I saw the front page fanshot that John Jerry was starting in place of the injured Vernon Carey. My first thought, like many of yours I'm sure, was "Nice knowing you Matt Moore." John Jerry has been somewhat of a pariah on this team. He was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft over more dynamic players like Jimmy Graham, Mike Williams, Aaron Hernandez and Jacoby Ford. Most fans were OK with the pick because he would secure part of the interior line for years to come… except that didn’t happen immediately. Jerry never secured a starting role, splitting time with the likes of Pat McQuistan. He was a rookie though, so he was given some slack. Fast forward to week 4 of the 2011 preseason, and Jerry looks like he is on the way out; cut after one less than average season. He surprisingly made the team, but was relegated to the bench. He was even a healthy inactive for many games this season. He was looking like a wasted draft pick. So Sparano must have been crazy to give him a start in this game, right? This was going to turn out bad.
It was bad alright. Bad to the tune of 362 total offensive yards, 209 of which came on the ground, in a game that was over before the 3rd quarter ended. After watching and re-watching this game, it was clear that Sparano wasn’t crazy, but right on the money. John Jerry showed not only why he was a good choice to start, but also showed the potential that we hoped to see last year.
John Jerry played very well in this game. A quick summary would show that he gave up only 2 real pressures in pass protection, neither led to a sack. He was also instrumental in the Dolphins’ rushing dominance, pulling well for the most part and showing an ability to get to the second level. He wasn’t perfect and had a few errors, but showed he has potential to be a good guard in the NFL.
When deciding how to compose this post, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to highlight a few plays or go play-by-play on each drive. I decided to combine them and highlight both good and bad plays from each individual drive. I looked at each individual play and gave Jerry a grade of good (winning the battles in pass protection and run blocking), bad (losing the battles in pass protection or run blocking), or ugly (truly heinous plays). I’m not going to break down every single play, but will give some breakdown of key plays in each drive.
This was a good drive for Jerry. There were seven total plays, all but one being a pass play. He got six good grades and one bad grade on this drive.
Good: Jerry had two plays of note in this drive that we very good. The first play happened to be the only rushing play called on the entire drive. At the snap, Jerry pulled to the right and clears out the safety allowing Reggie to hit the edge and pick up 15 yards.
Good: The second good play was on a pass play to Bess that fell incomplete. At the snap, Oakland rushed 3 of its 4 down linemen and blitzes a safety off the edge and a linebacker up our right side of the line. Jerry picks up Lamarr Houston, Colombo picks up the safety, and Pouncey takes the inside rusher, Kelly. However there is no one to pick up the blitzing linebacker as Bush had moved to Moore’s left. Jerry locks down Houston and reaches out to try and slow down the blitzer. Jake Long is good, but even he can’t block two guys at once. I graded this as a good for Jerry simply because blocks Houston with one hand and tries to get a hand on the blitzer. That’s good recognition on his part. Ideally, Bush would have taken on the safety, allowing Colombo to block Houston and Jerry to pick up the blitzer. But Jerry gets a good grade for stonewalling his defender and for the effort to block two guys at once.
Bad: John Jerry… meet John Henderson. Jerry struggled with Henderson all day long with Henderson being the cause of most of Jerry’s bad grades. On this play, Jerry gets a good initial punch on Henderson standing him up. But then, Henderson proceeds to drive Jerry all the way back into the pocket and onto the ground, forcing Moore to scramble for a four yard gain. The good news is that Moore still had 4 seconds to throw the ball. The bad news is that if Jerry blocks big #79, then Moore would have had about 10 seconds to throw. The play still earned positive yards, but Jerry gets a bad grade for just getting manhandled by Henderson.
This was another good drive for Jerry. There were 12 total plays, including a defensive penalty. I included that play because Jerry would have gotten a good grade on the play, but the penalty negated it. There were a couple of plays where Jerry and his defender were inconsequential. Other than those plays, Jerry had good grades in pass protection and run blocking, save for one bad grade.
Good: On the first play of the drive, we call a right tackle run with Bush. The play only gained two yards, but Jerry gets a good grade because this was one of the few times he handled Henderson. Henderson actually makes the tackle, but it wasn’t Jerry’s fault. On this play, Jerry blocks straight ahead and Colombo blocks the DE out to the sideline. Pouncey pulls behind Jerry, hoping to clear out any defenders between Jerry and Colombo. The problem was that Colombo didn’t clear out the DE and Pouncey cut block the linebacker. This gave Reggie no room to run and he cut back into the middle. Jerry didn’t hold his block and ends up on the ground. Henderson makes the tackle along with other defenders. I give Jerry a good grade because he did what he was supposed to do by clearing out the DT. If Pouncey and Colombo do what they are supposed to do, then Henderson is completely taken out of the play.
Good: This was the crazy misdirection play where Bush gains 29 yards down the sideline. At the snap, Jerry pulls right, clears out and seals off the safety Mitchell. I expect a 300+ pound guard to win the matchup with a safety every time. But Jerry gets a good grade because he not only shows a good ability to pull, but makes a key block that allowed Bush to gain big yards.
Good: This is probably my favorite play of the day by Jerry. It’s 3rd and 28 from our own 29. Oakland rushes 4 and drops 7 into coverage. The Raiders run a "twist" with the LE and DT. Jerry initially picks up the DT, but the DT works Jerry’s outside shoulder hoping to get Jerry and Colombo tangled up, leaving the DE a clear lane to the QB. The DE cuts back behind the DT hoping to have a lane. Jerry immediately recognizes it, passes the DT off to Colombo and picks up the DE. When you watch it at regular speed, it would seem that Jerry gave up another pressure. However, Moore still had a clean pocket because Jerry never let the defender go. The coverage was good and Moore has no choice but to tuck the ball and run. It wasn’t necessarily the best blocking of the day for Jerry. But if he doesn’t recognize the twist and make the correct adjustment, then Moore gets sacked around the 40 yard line and we may not get a field goal on that drive. Overall, just a smart play by Jerry.
Bad: This was a right guard run for Bush. Once again, Jerry is matched up with Henderson and Henderson wins the battle. Jerry tries to block Henderson right, giving Bush a lane between he and Pouncey. Jerry gets no push and Henderson shucks the block, tossing Jerry aside, and making the tackle. This was just poor blocking on Jerry’s part.
This was Jerry’s cleanest and best drive of the day. There were 7 plays and he earned all good grades in pass protection and run blocking, except on one play where he and his defender were inconsequential to the action.
Good: Another great play for Jerry. This was the end-around play with Bush. At the snap, Jerry, Pouncey, and Long all get out in front of the run to block downfield. Jerry initially blocks Rolando McClain, but the momentum of the play carries McClain right into Long. Jerry simply releases and locks onto Giordano and drives him 5 to 6 yards backwards. Again, I expect a massive guard to win against a safety. But if Jerry whiffs on that block, Bush gets tackled short of the first down. Bush gets the first down but may have scored if Marshall could have sealed off Stanford Routt. But Bush doesn’t get the first without Jerry’s great pull and great downfield block.
Another decent drive, with 6 good grades, one bad grade, and an inconsequential grade. Jerry does show decent ability to get to the second level on this drive.
Bad: I only highlight the bad here because the good plays were plays a guard should make. This play was a three yard loss for Daniel Thomas. Throughout the game, it was evident that Oakland was going to attack the right side of our offensive line (with good reason). On this play, Oakland sends two linebackers on a blitz, crossing one another, while the RE drops back to set the edge. Incognito and Pouncey both take on a linebacker and Jerry takes on the DT. However, Colombo doubles the DT, leaving Fasano to take on the DE one-on-one (face palm). The DE easily gets by Fasano while the other blitzing linebacker is unblocked, both dropping Thomas in the backfield. I don’t know if Jerry missed an assignment or Pouncey did, or whoever. The entire offensive line from Pouncey over get a bad grade on this play. It was a well designed blitz and we did a poor job of recognizing it and blocking it.
This was the final drive before the half. We ran 4 plays, 3 of which were runs. Jerry graded good of all plays, but there are no plays of note.
This was only a 3 play drive thanks to Gates’ huge kick return. Jerry graded good on all three plays.
Good: This was the 1 yard TD run for Bush. Jake Long made the key block that allowed Bush to score. However, Jerry had a great pull and block on Aaron Curry that would have been a key block if we weren’t on the goal line. Jerry’s block didn’t matter in this case, but if the play had been at midfield, then Jerry’s block would have allowed Bush to get a big gain.
This was clearly Jerry’s worst drive of the day. There were a total of 13 plays with one inconsequential play for Jerry, though he did pull well on that play. Jerry had 8 good grades, but also had 3 bad grades on this drive and our only ugly grade of the day.
Good: This was another one of my favorite plays. This was the 6 yard QB draw TD. This play demonstrates why you would draft a 6’5" 335 guard. At the snap, Moore, in the shotgun, takes the ball, fakes a pass, and then takes off on a draw. Oakland rushes 3 players. Jerry fakes like he’s going to pass protect, allowing Lamarr Houston to get in on him. Jerry then simply drives Lamarr Houston backwards and unto the ground. Moore follows right behind Jerry and into the end zone. Matt Moore does not score there without that great block from Jerry. If Jerry can continue to block like that for the rest of his career, then he would be a Hall of Famer. It was road grading at it’s best. It’s good to know he ended the drive with a good play after you see the bad and ugly grades of this drive.
Bad: First play of the drive is a run play. Jerry once again is matched up against Henderson and once again, Jerry gets no push. In fact, Jerry was pushed out of the play by Henderson.
Bad: After the big Marshall catch, we run the ball again. Jerry gets to the second level, but completely whiffs on a block. The defender that he missed makes the tackle. This only avoids the ugly grade because Jerry did to the second level at least and the play gained 8 yards.
Bad: Once again, Jerry faces Henderson on a running play and once again, Jerry gets no push at all against Henderson.
Ugly: On this play, Jerry showed us how NOT to block someone. At the snap, Jerry bends too much at the waist and reaches too far out to engage Henderson. Henderson smacks Jerry’s right hand away and Jerry completely loses his balance and leverage and nearly falls. Henderson uses a swim move and in two steps is in the backfield. Jerry is completely beaten on the play and falls down trying to chase Henderson. Henderson does have to shuffle his feet slightly to avoid the falling Jerry and this give Moore JUST enough time to throw a dart to Charles Clay (that he drops). The good news on this play is that Moore wasn’t sacked and if Clay hangs onto that pass, it’s a positive play. The bad news is that Jerry gets beaten very badly on this play. John Henderson just made him look stupid; very ugly play for Jerry. This was Jerry's only other pressure allowed.
DRIVES EIGHT THROUGH ELEVEN
After the last drive, I thought some fatigue might be setting in for Jerry, given his lack of playing time. However, he cleaned up his act and gets good grades for the rest of the game. There were only 2 key plays worth noting on those drives.
Drive Eight/Good: This was the big run by Bush that was called back by a holding penalty. Jerry pulls on this play and clears the road for Bush. The play didn’t count, but it still showed great pulling and road grading for Jerry.
Drive Eleven/Good: This is the last play of the game that wasn’t a kneel down. It’s 3rd and 2 and a first down means we will see the "victory" formation. All the other offensive linemen engage the defensive line. Jerry pulls and blasts through a safety who by this point was just ready to go home. The game had been over for a quarter and a half and this play really had no effect on the outcome of the game. But it still was a great way to finish a game: dominating at the line of scrimmage
The Miami Dolphins put on a clinic in offensive line play this game. We simply beat the Raiders in the trenches. John Jerry was a big part of that dominance. Out of 70 possible plays, I only saw 6 total plays that were just bad plays. Jerry was effective and at times, flat out great. This game showed me that there is still hope for Jerry that he can become an effective starting guard for us, if not a good starting guard. I hope we see more great performances for the rest of this season and the seasons to come.