It's Not Just the QB

So much for the notion that Tyler Thigpen would take over at quarterback and suddenly the Dolphins would take off. On the contrary, the Dolphins turned in their worst offensive effort in a couple of years during the 16-0 loss to the Chicago Bears on Thursday night. But this wasn't about Thigpen, just as the earlier problems on offense weren't all about Chad Henne.

To put it mildly, the Dolphins are a mess on offense right now, and it starts up front.

The offensive line is banged up and battered and the problems might not go away anytime soon.

Center Joe Berger missed last night's game because of a knee injury and his replacement, Cory Procter, went down untouched on the Dolphins' second offensive possession of the game.

As of Friday afternoon, there was no update on Procter's condition, although it really didn't look good on Thursday night.

Without Berger and Procter, Richie Incognito slid over from left guard to play center and Pat McQuistan took Incognito's spot.

Nothing against Incognito and his ability to play center, but that kind of shuffling is no recipe for success.

But that's just the beginning. Then you have Jake Long playing with a shoulder injury that required him to wear a harness. He clearly wasn't the same guy out there and he was pulled when the Dolphins ran their final, meaningless drive.

Reports suggest Long will need surgery to fix his injury and Coach Tony Sparano was asked on Friday about the possibility of shutting down Long for the rest of the season. So obviously, this is serious.

Next there's Vernon Carey, who came in nursing a minor knee injury and then left the game for a play after his shoulder got banged up.

So, clearly, this is one battered unit right now.

And that, by far, is the biggest problem. The Dolphins simply are not winning up front because their offensive line, which is not a great unit to begin with, is not winning the battle up front.

Because of that, the Dolphins can't run the ball.

Dan Henning is taking a lot of heat on Friday for giving Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams only three carries each against the Bears, but those six carries they got garnered a meager 11 yards combined.

You really think the Dolphins would have scored a lot of points if Ricky and Ronnie had combined for, say, 25 carries? Sorry, not a chance.

Of course, the offensive line issues also show up in pass protection, and it was no coincidence that the inexperienced Thigpen was sacked six times by the Bears.

Really, the only way to compensate for an ineffective offensive line is to have gamebreakers who can make something out of nothing.

Look at the Dolphins roster, and you'll see they don't have that kind of player.

Mind you, there is some ability at the skill positions with the likes of Ricky, Ronnie, Davone Bess, Anthony Fasano and Brandon Marshall, but none of them make things happen on their own.

The one who's closest to that kind of player is Marshall because of his ability to gain yardage after the catch and his ability to outjump defenders to win jump balls.

But Marshall didn't get it done against the Bears; on the contrary, he was awful.

If it wasn't bad enough that he dropped two passes, both on the same second-quarter drive when the Bears led only 6-0, he also nullifed a good Thigpen scramble with an illegal block downfield and he also drew a taunting penalty when he couldn't resist the temptation to flip the football to Jay Cutler on the Chicago bench at the end of a 14-yard reception.

If the Dolphins were going to be able to overcome their injury issues against the Bears, they needed for their money players to show up, and Marshall did just the opposite.

Yes, the defense struggled on third down against the Bears and, as expected, Sparano spread the blame around.

But the bottom line is Chicago didn't reach 300 yards of offense and scored only 16 points. No, this loss had everything to do with an offense that didn't look like it could score unless the Bears went into a total prevent mode.

The proof? After their first drive when they were set up by Nolan Carroll's 46-yard kickoff return, the Dolphins did not take a single snap inside the Chicago 40-yard line.

Think about it. That is some kind of offensive ineptitude.

Would Chad Henne have made a difference? Not likely. This went way beyond the quarterback position.

And that's what's so troubling about the Dolphins as they head into their final six games. They need, really, to win at least five of their last six if they hope to make the playoffs and they really don't look like they have an offense anywhere near good enough to get that accomplished.

Again, at the risk of being repetitive, suggesting the only problem is at quarterback is naive. There are many issues with this offense, starting with an offensive line that needs to find a way to overcome a sudden rash of injuries.

It also wouldn't hurt if the highly paid players started playing like highly paid players.


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