The Miami Dolphins have had a big offseason, from changing the head coach to adding pieces to upgrade the offense. One of the major areas the team has targeted over the past several weeks was the offensive line, where they will have at least two new starters after the team signed tackle Terron Armstead and guard Connor Williams in free agency. Miami also released tackle Jesse Davis, opening the right tackle spot to a training camp position battle.
The Dolphins are adjusting to more of a zone scheme for the offensive line, with players working together to block defenders in specific areas, rather than assigning a defender for the individual lineman to block. This allows for more double-team blocks and ensures that a player who is responsible to block a linebacker does not miss his block because a defensive lineman crashed down onto him.
“What I like about this scheme is it’s very detailed. It’s very detailed. We have a very detailed emphasis,” tackle Austin Jackson recently told the media when asked about the system. “At the end of the day, we’re going to have to rely on the concepts that we know, study and train for – which is fun. It’s actually a lot of fun to do that because when you get in the actual game, there are a lot of different situations to be ready for. I think we’ll definitely have our great playbook and concepts that we’re installing right now to fall back on.”
Armstead, in explaining what made him choose to sign with Miami, said of head coach Mike McDaniel’s system and his work with offensive linemen, “He understands us more than a few others. It’s a tough job. It’s a tough position. It’s a thankless position. We are asked to go and create. You don’t necessarily get the celebrations or the rewards, which is fine. It takes a unique group of individuals to do that over and over without expecting to be rewarded or to be patted on the back. Mike likes to put offensive linemen in the best position to be successful. He uses your strengths and abilities, which was another factor with me signing to Miami. The offensive scheme and the fit I think is perfect for what I do best. Be explosive, physical, get out and run.”
How will the Dolphins piece together the offensive line for 2022? This evening, we take a look at the line.
This one is pretty simple. A five-year, $87.5 million contract for a three-time Pro Bowl selection, two-time Second-Team All-Pro left tackle heading into his tenth year in the league seems to indicate you plan on playing him at left tackle. Plus, lead coach Mike Daniel said after signing Armstead, “I know Terron is going to be the left tackle for sure.” Even thought quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is a left-handed quarterback, making the right tackle position his blind-side blocked, Armstead can lock down the left tackle position without question.
Seems pretty straightforward.
Projection: Terron Armstead
There could be a little discussion here, but again it feels like Miami signed a player who plays the position, why move him? Williams has said he is willing to play wherever the coaching staff needs him to play, but he also stated, “Obviously, most of my work in the league has been at guard and at that, it has been at left guard and I feel most comfortable at left guard.”
Miami could consider moving Williams somewhere else on the line, including tackle or center, but keeping him at left guard where he is most comfortable and setting up that side of the line to be a lock-down, sure-thing is appealing.
Projection: Connor Williams
This feels like another straight-forward answer simply because there are not a lot of options the roster right now. Assuming Williams is the left guard, that makes Michael Deiter as the only real option as the team’s starting center. Heading into his fourth season, Deiter still needs to develop as an NFL player, but he has the potential and settling into a position instead of being constantly moved around the offensive line, could be a huge benefit to him in reaching his potential.
Miami should consider selecting a center in next week’s 2022 NFL Draft, adding competition to push Deiter and provide depth if needed during the year.
Projection: Michael Deiter
The Dolphins have an option here, where they could look to Robert Hunt to fill this role, or they could look to have Hunt compete for the right tackle position. That might depend on the development on Solomon Kindley. The Dolphins have spent several draft picks on the offensive line in the last few years, especially on tackles. Having Hunt establish himself as the team’s starting right guard, locking down that position, is probably the best scenario for Miami.
Projection: Robert Hunt
This is the biggest question mark on the offensive line - and maybe the roster - for Miami. The team has several players who could step into this spot, but not any who you would say is a lock for the starting role. Liam Eichenberg and Jackson are probably the top two options, though Robert Jones and Adam Pankey could factor into the position battle as well.
“As you know, I played guard last year, as well as tackle,” Jackson said when asked where he sees himself playing. “Personally, I’m a tackle. I feel like I’m a tackle. I’m comfortable there. I’m also very comfortable playing guard. I really just want to be in whatever position I can be in to help my team at the end of the day.”
He continued, “I’ve actually played right tackle. This isn’t the first time playing a new role for me. I played it in high school, I played it in college – actually collegiately, like starting at it. It’s not completely new for me, but at the end of the day, I have to make sure I’m 100 percent right in my techniques and my fundamentals because what our offense does is if you get the technique down and use that same technique, it’s supposed to be the same at every position. It’s allowing for people to be interchangeable.”
While Jackson played guard, Eichenberg found himself starting at left tackle for much of the season, and showing many of the rookie struggles you would expect from him. He did have moments that demonstrated his potential and he grew as the season continued, but he still has a lot to prove before he is considered a sure thing.
Projection: Austin Jackson
How would you feel about this offensive line? Would you change something?
LT: Terron Armstead
LG: Connor Williams
C: Michael Deiter
RG: Robert Hunt
RT: Austin Jackson
Reserves: Liam Eichenberg, Solomon Kindley, Adam Pankey, Robert Jones