Its True that success in the National football league starts and ends with the lines. What is more of opinion however, is that when the regular season starts, Miami will have probably the best lines in the league. Its a part of the team that usually goes through lots of changes, mainly because of the number of players on the lines, frequent injuries, and added depth which creates competition. Success along the lines is also measured differently, as you cant just have one superstar to make it good, but you have to have talent along the lines, as well as a unit that works together. Cohesiveness and consistency.
The offensive line starts with the football in the hands of the center. I think everyone knows this if you've ever watched a football game and understood it I guess.. I like that our coach used to play center, and used to be a position coach as well as offensive line coach. In no way do I think this makes him some sort of offensive line Jedi master, who makes magic out of centers guards and tackles. But it means he's been around it long enough to know what to look for and to know what he likes. A lot of fans will give good 'ol TS a lot of flack for "tinkering" with our offensive line last year, when I think he was just trying to get the best out of what he had. Lets look at a few things real quick.
Injuries really hurt an offensive line. It usually brings in a player who isn't as quite on the same page with the rest of the line as the guy he came in to replace, which can result in assignment mistakes. In "09, Jake Grove was our starting center who we got to replace Satele from the Raiders. He got a big contract. He also got a big injury. Same year. Justin Smiley, left guard, injury, left team. Injuries left the team with some pretty big holes, and in attempts to fill them through FA, depth, and the draft, our only shining star was the wild stallion and long shot Richie Incognito.. not very neato. Nate Garner also went down with injury- a versatile piece of OL who we couldn't let go of. So that left us with Incognito at LG, Joe Berger at C, and the rookie John Jerry to share reps with Pat McQuistan at RG. They did decent at first, and received many game balls for providing Henne plenty of time to throw the ball, but as the season wore on and little injuries occurred, the running lanes became congested, and so on and so forth, you know the story, Im just painting a picture here.
REASONS for optimism for the 2011 offensive line are as follows. As of right now, we still have the old group, only now with some upgrades. We all know Mike Pouncey, the best lineman in coming out of college this year, was drafted in the first round. We also picked up Colombo from the cowboys where TS used to coach, so Im guessing he knows what he's getting there- cause I sure as hell dont!.. I wont lie, I dont really pay attention to that sort of thing, but if TS trusts him, why cant I... Its pretty clever how these two moves addresses the 3 needs that I saw people mentioning most along the OL over the lockout period. Pouncey is in at center, Fantastic!!.. Carey is moving inside to play guard, sounds good to me as he was getting beat at times last year. And Colombo is tacklin the right side. That's 4 first round picks on the Offensive Line. Count em again, FOUR first round picks, well 3 and JAKE LONG, BEST OFFENSIVE LINEMAN IN FOOTBALL.. Im pumped to see the lanes open up and the QB throw from the comfort of a couch.
DEFENSIVE LINE might even be better than our Offensive line. It sure was last year and we got all our guys back, thanks to the good work of our front office in not only properly preparing for the lockout, but taking care of business once it ended in securing depth along the DL. We all pretty much know how great our DL is, and praise the heavens that Paul Soliai had the emergence he had last season. Im not even mad about him eating 12 mil this year instead of just giving him a long term contract. 1- I bet he's expecting that 12 mil, and if we change his expectations, he might change ours- just sayin.. and 2- He's been working hard, and will continue to work hard, to earn every penny of it. Expect a contract extension sometime this season when he's blowin up centers and guards this year. With keeping Tony McDaniel from signing somewhere else, and the return of 2010 first round pick Jared Odrick, our Defensive line has more depth than the Marianas Trench!! I cant wait to see fresh defensive lineman beating up on worn down offenses all year!
I just cant wait for the season to start, and am thrilled football is back, hope is back, and our killer lines are back!!
FINAL THOUGHT: Sure they aren't the sexiest positions, and Im sure no one grows up wanting to be the best left guard, or defensive end in football (unless of course a father or uncle was a left guard or defensive end). But they pave the way for the rest of the team to succeed. They create opportunities. Opportunities for running lanes, or run stuffing. Passing time, or pressuring passers. Probably the most underrated positions in the media, but I'm Damn proud to say we have some of the best lines in the league!