Remember the talk in 2008 ? We are finally gonna turn things around because the almighty Tuna has agreed to slum it with the Miami Dolphins. I must admit I was a little embarrassed for our franchise to become another notch on his over rated (only two championships in over 20 years) belt. I never
wanted one entity to be bigger than the Dolphins organization. I was a fan of the Miami Dolphins since the David Woodley era and you will see Teal, White and Orange if you cut me.
So I was in the minority in Dolphin forums and discussion groups back then. Almost everyone else was doing back flips about Bill Parcells, while I asked if this was the guy you bring in to a franchise that wants to find it's QB and excite fans with the passing game ? His hiring was a head scratcher to me,
and the people he surrounded himself with seemed to be people (Sporano, Ireland and DanHenning)that would not push back about football decisions due to their thankfulness to have a job.
However we would eventually get on the same page with the selection of Jake Long. As my maturation grew as a football fan, by 2008 I fully grasped the importance of building through the trenches. More importantly I saw the value in the left tackle position. I saw how that value was apparent in the
production of the QB and thus the rest of the offense. So even though there was the Jake Long vs. Matt Ryan debate, I always knew that Jake Long was the obvious choice.
I know I went around the ben to say that I had always been a Jake Long supporter, but I didn't want my current
opinion of his situation to be perceived the wrong way ... thanks for bearing with me.
So since he's been in the league, being selected as a pre CBA 1st over all pick, his play made him a bargain even
still, and was soon recognized around the league as the best left tackle in football. The Miami Dolphins, at that time
where a run first, smash mouth .... man blocking .... team on offense.
This was a marriage made in heaven. Jake Long produced and stayed healthy doing it. However our owner is who
saw it, and wanted that level of excitement for his team and their fans.
The problem was, he thought that an offensive coordinator change (and thus a change in philosophy) was all that was needed. Because football players are football players right ?
See that's where I get off the page again. I never knew why it was so easy to grasp that there are physical size and skill set requirements to play trenches in the defense, but so hard to grasp or believe that there are similar requirements for playing in the offensive trenches. Jake Long was using his elite
play and consistent good health to make him a future first ballot hall of fame candidate, and worth ever penny of that 5 year 57 million dollar contract he received as a rookie. And mind you, he would never score a TD or cause a turnover. But his level of play still made that money well spent. So what
happened ? Here we are in 2013 and he's an unrestricted free agent on day 5 of the free agent signing period, when a player like him should have never been allowed to even enter his contract year without a new deal. He only has two suitors and neither is in any rush to sign the best LT in the league?
Even after receiving a clean bill of health from the authority on sports medicine and health Dr, Andrews, he can't get a deal done ? Here is another question. What was it about Brian Daboll's offense that made it kryptonite to the Dolphin's personification of superman, Jake Long ? Why did his problems
start with that hire in 2011, when he had been superman for the 3 years prior ? Why are the majority of his uncommon injuries non-impact, back and tricep related ? What was it about this offense or more specifically blocking scheme that reduced Long to a mere mortal in front of our very eyes. They
know something. The fans may not know but the fact that he's having issues getting a deal done means that management for the Rams and the Dolphins must know something. Why is re-signing Hartline and Chris Clemons a higher priority than the protector of their new franchise QB Ryan Tannehill ?
Well as we speak there is little to no support for Jonathan Martin. I get that. He did not play well and was ranked near last if not dead last at his position. At this point the other option would be the draft. Which means entrusting another rookie at that position of value.
I can't help but believe that we have schemed him out of a job here. We may take him back as unspoken / unconfirmed insurance, if our younger tackles fail, but that is a tremendous plummet in status for Jake Long.
Here's my theory as to why this may be happening. It will be very hard for some of us to come to terms with this possibility. I believe that Jake Long suffers in the ZBS. His athleticism is in moving forward and back words. His physical forte is strength and balance. Those are the two physical attributes
needed to move forward and back. In the man blocking system that was installed in 2008 by Dan Henning, that's what he did. That's what he did at Michigan as well. Long knew his blocking assignment pre snap, locked on to the defender and had his way. However in the ZBS, when he pass protects,
he has to react suddenly to the whichever defender if any enters his zone. Due to lack of quick feet laterally, this often leads to last second lunges to the left or right. Different muscles are now being required for use. He now has to depend on quick feet, hip, back and tricep flexibility when he spent his
whole career depending on strength and balance. Now that transition has caused injuries and poor play. Some have questioned why Richie Incognito has been able to make the transition at a pro bowl level and Long has not ? My reply to that is that the guard position does not require the sudden and
wide lateral movement that the tackle will face because the guard is between the Tackle and the Center and any defenders taking outside angles to the backfield will be the responsibility of the Tackle. It's really apples and oranges. Now I know that there are players out there that can play up and down
the line in either man or zone, but they have the flexibility to do it. Maybe it's time to come to terms with the fact that this is a league of specialists. This is now a league of specified job descriptions and it's time to let Clark Kent go to a phone booth where he can be superMAN again. Sorry, but there are no
longer any phone booths is South Beach. Miami is the cell phone zone ... see what I did there ? "... superMan... cell
phone ZONE " ... never mind.