Austin Jackson is making the most out of the final year of his rookie contract. The 2020 first-round draft pick has consistently kept quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s blindside clean since the start of the 2023 NFL season.
Only the Buffalo Bills (1.3) and Kansas City Chiefs (1.3) allow fewer sacks than the Miami Dolphins offensive line (1.7) on a per-game basis. Jackson anchors the offensive line, allowing just one sack and two quarterback hits, according to PFF. They say availability is the best ability — Jackson is Miami’s only offensive lineman to start all nine games.
“When you’re trying to coach and get the best out of someone, it’s not just saying the right thing,” Dolphins’ coach Mike McDaniel said when asked about Jackson on Friday. “It is getting your hands dirty by earning their trust on a daily basis. The connection between coaches and players and the journey that they’re on, it starts with the earned trust.
“I don’t believe in entitlement. So you have to show players that you care and you have to earn the respect that you know those coaches are giving you the right information and the right emphasis.”
Dolphins’ first-year offensive line coach Butch Barry has helped Jackson maximize his talents in his second season at right tackle after playing just 84 snaps last year due to injury. He allowed four sacks as a rookie left tackle and was called for 12 penalties playing guard in 2021.
“The daily commitment, the relentlessness, the intent, the coachability of Austin, and then I think it’s so cool that the world tried to beat Austin down and tell him he was something,” McDaniel said. “It’s funny, people don’t have sympathy for it. Traditionally, I think guys that are trying to prove the team’s investment in them. First-round draft picks are kind of attacked a little bit. No one wants to be labeled as a bust. That’s hard.
“A lot of people don’t have the mental fortitude to withstand narratives, which is why he’s doing an abnormal thing because he’s 24 years old, got in this league before he could drink alcohol, and has been the focal point of many people’s conversations and opinions.”
The Chiefs sacked Tagovailoa three times in Germany, and Miami’s offensive line has lacked continuity because of injuries to four of five starters. McDaniel credited Jackson, Barry, and assistant offensive line coach Lamuel Jeanpierre for the consistent results up front.
“Fortunately, he’s the type of person he is and fortunately Butch and Lem do the job they do for him,” McDaniel said. “Every day they know, regardless, they’ve done everything they can to best prepare him and then he takes that and doesn’t worry about anything else.
“It’s a very, very hard thing to do but admirable and very, very enjoyable for me to watch. Both Butch and Austin had opinions out there of them that I don’t share. It’s cool to watch them not worry about that and just do their jobs with passion and love for the game, love for the position they’re in and regard for the position they’re in and love for each other.”