After Miami’s first preseason game saw the offensive line struggle against a solid Chicago Bears front seven, the Dolphins traded a 2022 7th round pick to the Carolina Panthers for 2019 2nd round offensive tackle, Greg Little.
Fins GM, Chris Grier, once again finds himself scraping the bottom of the tackle barrel this off-season after failed additions in Isaiah Wilson and DJ Fluker. While it’s true that Grier hasn’t paid too hefty of a price to acquire these potential depth pieces, the same cannot be said about his investments in the projected starting five linemen going into the 2021 season.
Left Tackle: Austin Jackson – 2020 1st round pick (18th overall)
Left Guard: Liam Eichenberg – 2021 2nd round pick (42nd overall, plus traded 2022 3rd rounder to move up 10 spots)
Center: Michael Deiter – 2019 3rd round pick (78th overall)
Right Guard: Robert Hunt – 2020 2nd round pick (39th overall)
Right Tackle: Jesse Davis – (signed to the practice squad in 2016)
I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the 2020 4th round pick (111th overall) the Dolphins used on Solomon Kindley who is battling with Eichenberg for the starting left guard spot.
With so many high picks used on offensive linemen in recent years, the fact that the line is still struggling to be solidified - outside of promising second year player, Robert Hunt - and Miami continues to find themselves trading future draft capital to acquire players who have struggled with their original teams, is a concerning problem, to say the least.
While Chris Grier has under-performed regarding his evaluation at the position, at some point, fingers need to be pointed at the men tasked to educate and tutor these players.
The offensive line coaches who have been trusted to develop the skills of these young men have some serious explaining to do. Dave DeGuglielmo was let go following the 2019 season in which Miami gave up an average of 3.6 sacks per game, tied for the most per game of any team that season. Steve Marshall was then hired. He did fare better than DeGuglielmo – his line giving up just 2.1 sacks per game in 2020. However, after the departure of offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey, Marshall was let go as well. This year it’s Lemuel Jeanpierre’s chance to get things right, but as we saw on Saturday, things are already off to a rocky start.
While it’s exciting to think about all of the skill-position pieces that have been added to give Dolphins’ quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, the best opportunity to take a significant leap forward in his second season, the easiest way to turn those Lombardi Trophy dreams into terrifying nightmares is to get your QB with a significant injury history seriously injured once more. Without genuine improvement from the men up front, that scenario is a real possibility this season.
Who do you think is to blame for Miami’s offensive line troubles? How would you go about fixing those issues? Would you kick the tires on a veteran addition? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter at @MBrave13! Fins up!