The Miami Dolphins offensive line is still a work in progress. Anybody who watched Friday’s game against the Giants saw starting LG Dallas Thomas getting bull-rushed on 3 rd and 9. In Monday’s practice, Dallas Thomas sat while the Dolphins 2016 1 st round pick Laremy Tunsil got work with the starters raising questions about the starting guard position. “I don’t. I don’t. I’m kinda making sure that I don’t,” OC Clyde Christensen said when asked if he knew who the starting guards were. “I think we do have, by the end of this game, have to start thinking about it a little bit, because now that 3 rd game is when we’ll try to play the starters a good chunk.
And the 4 th week is kind of a wash, and who knows how Coach Gase will play them. I do think coming out of this game, we gotta start funneling the thing down and getting a lineup and giving them a chance to play together.” A smart strategy considering the offensive line is a unit that must have chemistry and trust in order to effectively handle blocking assignments and blitz pick-ups.
The Fins need to give Tunsil a shot at left guard in this week’s preseason game, if they intend to solve their starting LG problem. Despite the longer-than- expected gelling of the unit, Christensen doesn’t seem to be phased and has high hopes for the final result of talent. “I am extremely confident we are gonna end up with not only a good offensive line, but a deep one. I think we are gonna have more guys than you usually have at this point… You always are nervous about left tackles and we got them stacked on top of each-other and that’s a luxury. I do believe we’ll end up being a good offensive line and deep.” As to why the offense has been sputtering: “I just think knowledge and too much thinking. We’ve given them a lot to think about. This slows folks down, and we look like a team that’s kinda thinking and trying to do the right thing. Once you know and you don’t have to think about how to get lined up and what the play is, now you can go do it fast.” And Gase and Christensen was to play fast. Its been something that’s buzzed around the team ever since the new coaching staff arrived in January.
The up-tempo offense has been discussed all offseason, but still has not been grasped by the players—regardless of their position. “I don’t think anything is as quick as we want. Nothing. The protection, the run game, the pass game, the routes… Nothing’s as quick as we want. But that’s what has to all speed up. It has to speed up, if we are gonna get where we wanna go. The up-tempo and all of those things has to become second nature. I hope that in these next 2 weeks, we’ll start seeing some results of everything.” Dolphin Nation has grown impatient with the lack of offensive chemistry.
But Christensen knows how long it can take to input a new offensive system to a young team. “I put it into the early camps when we were installing. When Pagano came in and all of a sudden that first year your putting in that Arian’s offense. Its similar to the times you just started. It was a dreamworld when all of a sudden you had all those veteran guys and you’re in your 10 th year together. The first day of training camp you’re picking up blitzes and throwing Hot’s and running double moves and all that stuff. But those guys have been together for 10 years, and it wouldn’t be fair to compare the 2 right now.” One player who made an impact in Friday’s Game was 6 th -round pick WR/Returner Jakeem Grant. Grant has been practicing with the 2 nd and 3 rd team, but has had inconsistent hands in camp and still is learning the offense. “I do believe that every time he goes in there, something good happens,” Christensen said. “He’s shown that he’s a playmaking guy.
Every practice we’ve put him in since he’s been here he’s made something happen. In this league, you gotta get some big plays outta people, and when you have that ability, that’s a great trait to have: that every time you go in there, something big happens.” Christensen also commented on the current lack of Tight-End involvement in practice. This is a concern considering Jordan Cameron is quite a talent and is being paid a handsome salary of $6 million in 2016. “Of every position, the Tight End position is the most learning. They have to know the protection, they have to know the run game, and they have to know the pass game. I think they will be the last ones who the speed-that I’m talking about- shows up where it just becomes natural. We stick them in so many situations. They’re out wide, they’re in the slot, they’re attached, they’re part of the run unit, they’re in the backfield as a protector. So their’s will be the slowest. We need some big plays out of that room, we know that.
That’s where your match- ups are on 3 rd Down. They’ve got to win and we gotta have some good stuff for them. Hopefully we’ll get there. We’re not there yet.” Clouds began to roll in, and heavy rain came down in the 2 nd half of Monday’s practice. Previous Dolphin coaches(like Joe Philbin) would move practice into the bubble to avoid sloppy and inefficient practice.
But Adam Gase stood there on the field, almost like the rain wasn’t there, and practice went on without any interruption. Christensen agreed with this approach, but was unhappy with the results of the offense who looked all washed up. “We didn’t look good enough. I was disappointed. I mean, we are gonna play in some rain games.
That was great work for us. We need wet balls, and we fumbled a couple snaps, and that’s unacceptable. But again, as a coach, I’m glad it came up where we could address it. We had too many fumbled snaps and operation issues in the ball game, and that can’t happen. We needed that wet day. We needed some of that. I’d like to tell you we are way ahead of the game and we’re not.” The Dolphins need to be ahead of the game in the next 2 weeks if they want to have a chance of staying in games this upcoming season. It’s believed Ryan Tannehill and the offense will have to carry this team, since they are the unit with the most talent. If they don’t show signs of improvement this week against the Cowboys or in the “starters” game against the Falcons, expect a rough season for the Fins.