So, as you all have probably heard by now, Pro Football Focus apparently doesn't think very highly of the 2017 edition of the Miami Dolphins' offensive line. According to PFF, Miami's front wall is better than that of only six other NFL teams. So, let's take a look at how they could possibly have arrived at such a conclusion. Right off the bat, center Mike Pouncey is a huge question mark, and could well be entering his final season with the Dolphins, unless he agrees to a sizable pay cut. Why ? There are six basic types of movable joints in the human body: hinge (finger, elbow), pivot (neck), gliding (shoulder blade, wrist), saddle (thumb) and ball and socket joints. The hip operates on a ball and socket system, and this particular type of joint is never quite the same once it has been compromised. Former football and baseball star Bo Jackson was well on his way to becoming the greatest two-sport athlete since Jim Thorpe before succumbing to a hip injury. Once a player develops a bad hip, it will generally only get worse with time and with age. Pouncey, who will be just 28 years old when training camp opens next month, deserves a better fate than this, but pro football is often a cruel undertaking.
But the Dolphins front office knew all that going into this offseason, which is why the team currently has six other Interior offensive linemen on its roster, at least three of whom can also man the center position, so it's not as though the team is banking on Pouncey starting sixteen games this year. So, alright, we can all agree that the center position on the Dolphins' offensive line is not exactly the rock of Gibraltar at this point.
Beyond that, however, Pro Football Focus has very little to base their analysis on other than opinionated innuendo. Since guard Ted Larsen didn't do a whole lot with the Chicago Bears a season ago -- well, other than help pave the way for fifth-round running back Jordan Howard to become the first rookie ball carrier to make the Pro Bowl in the Bears' storied history since Gayle Sayers in 1965, they can't possibly be looking at Larsen as a weak link on the Dolphins' offensive line. The only reason the Bears let him leave town was that he's thirty years old and Chicago won't be contending for at least another couple of seasons.
Even if Pouncey doesn't start a single game for the Dolphins this season, the team should still be able to field a good, solid trio of interior offensive linemen from the group of Kraig Urbik, Anthony Steen, Jermon Bushrod, fifth round rookie Isaac Asiata and the aforementioned Larsen. That may not necessarily sound like an overly impressive group to a lot of folks, but I've got news for you: that group collectively, has started a combined 247 NFL games, and in the big leagues, you don't get to play because of who you know or who you're related to; they only do that for coaches. If multiple NFL coaching staffs send a guy into the game that many times, that guy can play.
As for the tackles, Ju'Wuan James was very ordinary on the right side a year ago but played better down the stretch than he did during the early portion of the schedule. The team is looking for more consistency from James this year and I think they'll get it. James only turned 25 three weeks ago and is still ascending. At left tackle, second-year man Laremy Tunsil might very well be one of the top ten offensive linemen in the league right now, today. We ought to start calling him 'Larceny Tunsil' because getting him thirteen picks into the draft was an all-time steal. I'm not sure there are thirteen players from the last two or three drafts that are better than Tunsil.
There is a tendency to believe that unless every player on a team's offensive line is either a first or second round pick or highly touted free agent that the team has somehow done its quarterback an injustice. Well, okay, only Dolphin fans think that way. Of the ten offensive linemen who started in the Super Bowl a few months ago, only three of them were first round picks: left tackles Nate Solder and Jake Matthews and center Alex Mack. Two others were former second round picks, one was a third rounder, one was a fourth rounder, one was a fifth rounder and two players who started in the Super Bowl, to block for Tom Brady and Matt Ryan were undrafted free agents. As CT rightly points out, only in Miami do the fans complain when high draft picks aren't spent on the offensive line. Regardless of what the naysayers, whether from the national press or the team's own fan base, may say, we should look forward to the Dolphins' front line being even better this season than they were a year ago. It's an exciting time to be a Dolphin fan.