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Dolphins’ offensive line a shambles — again

Miami Dolphins v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Some things just aren’t meant to be. It’s not meant to be for there to be peace in the Middle East, for cold weather in South Florida, or for high school to be an easy experience. It also isn’t meant to be for the Miami Dolphins to have a talented, dominant offensive line. Miami’s line hasn’t been proficient at blocking for both the run and pass since the early to mid-1970s. Even in years when they were talented overall, such as during the Marino era, or in the 2000s, with Ricky Williams, they’ve tended to be one-dimensional, able to block for the pass, but not the run or vice versa.

The Dolphins gave up the equivalent of 1 1/2 first-round picks for a speedy gadget player, when there were two sure-fire studs available in last April’s draft, and also let Ereck Flowers leave town to save money; indeed, many of Chris Grier’s recent moves have him looking like he’s much more interested in being fiscally sound than football sound, but the Dolphins’ problems on the offensive line run so much deeper than just who they’ve drafted, who they’ve bypassed or Grier’s penurious, penny-pinching ways.

For the second time in the past seven or eight years, the Dolphins are making the same mistake — loading up on receivers at the expense of other positions. How, you might ask, can a quarterback simultaneously be the most coddled QB in football, yet also the most sacked quarterback in the NFL? That’s exactly what Ryan Tannehill was during much of his time in Miami, when the front office changed the entire receiving corps two or three times over, via free agency and the draft, with little to show for it in the win column. Then, as now, the team still drafted linemen — they just either failed to take the right guys or failed to develop them after they were on the team. Remember 2014 third-round pick Billy Turner, selected by fake GM Dennis Hickey? He flamed out with the Dolphins and was cut by Adam Gase after a dreadful showing early in the 2016 season, but he’s still in the NFL today, and currently plays for the Green Bay Packers. How about 2015 fourth-rounder Jamil Douglas, a player whom many here (Fly Fin, cough, cough) were excited about, yet whom I and many others predicted would never be strong or physical enough to be a long-term answer as a starting guard in the NFL? He was never a solution for the Dolphins, but six years after having been drafted by Miami, he’s now a reserve lineman for the same Buffalo Bills team that stormed into Hard Rock Stadium in week two and smoked the Dolphins like a cheap cigarette.

As most fans understand, coaching is a key part of any successful offensive line, and the Dolphins have fallen woefully short in that department for decades now. When Jimmy Johnson was handed control of the entire organization in early 1996, he made a Herculean effort to pry offensive line guru Hudson Houck away from the Dallas Cowboys, but was unable to do so, and coupled with Johnson’s refusal to draft linemen in the early rounds, Miami’s fate was sealed on their front wall for the next four seasons until Marino retired and the bottom fell out of the entire franchise.

As an offense and as a football team, the Dolphins have alternated between being too big and physical, and finding themselves exhausted being run up and down the field by quick, no-huddle offenses, like New England, during the Brady era, and being too much of a finesse unit that gets blown off the line of scrimmage by the Steelers and Ravens of the football world, but I’ll tell you this: I’d rather take my chances with some big, strong guys who can hold the point of attack than a bunch of tap dancing pushovers in a zone-based scheme who can’t block anybody one on one, which seems to be what the Dolphins have fielded as an offensive line the past few years. Miami, under Brian Flores, has tried to change that philosophy, having drafted guys like Robert Hunt and Solomon Kindley two years ago, but I don’t think there’s any question that bypassing the two studs that were available at the top of the draft this year was easily one of the worst decisions ever made in the 56-year history of the franchise. Guys get angry because I keep bringing that up, but when the results continue to demonstrate that it was a horrendously bad move, what are we supposed to do, pretend like it didn’t happen? That’s a decision that will haunt the team for years to come. I like Jaylen Waddle, and I think he’s going to be a good player, but in no way, shape or form was he the sixth overall pick of the 2021 draft. The highest any scouting report had him was eighth or ninth, meaning that, as a receiver, he likely would have gone at least seven to ten picks lower than that in most years. The Waddle pick apologists love to point to the fact that Penei Sewell has been less than dominant in the Motor City, but, lest we forget, there was another guy available who many had rated higher than Sewell, Rashawn Slater, who went to... that’s right — Justin Herbert’s Chargers! But, hey — at least Waddle has a superior yards-per-reception average and scored two points for us on Sunday. That’s the wrap for today, have a great week, everybody.