O-line observations

There's been a lot of talk in the offseason about the kind of impact new assistant coach Hudson Houck could have on the offensive line. On Thursday, the man regarded as one of the best -- if not the best -- at his job in the NFL spoke about what he has seen so far from his troops and what he expects.

Houck wouldn't touch the subject of what went wrong on the Dolphins offensive line last season, preferring instead to focus on this year.

And, as far as he's concerned, there's enough talent on board for the Dolphins to have success along the offensive line.

"I think we have enough talent in this offensive line to be pretty good," Houck said. "And I think with a good running back, which I think we have, and our quarterback is developing very well, I think we have enough there to win some games."

Houck worked wonders with a San Diego line last year that started two rookies, a fourth-round pick (Nick Hardwick) at center and a seventh-round pick (Shane Olivea) at right tackle, but don't call him a miracle worker.

On the contrary, Houck believes in the idea that an offensive line can only be as good as the rest of the team, and he used as an example his great lines in Dallas in the early 1990s when the rest of the team includes stars like Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.

Houck also isn't overly concerned about the youth on the Dolphins offensive line, pointing out that guys like Rex Hadnot, Seth McKinney and Stockar McDougle all might be relatively young but all have starting experience.

As far as what he wants from the Dolphins offensive line, it's pretty simple, really.

"To be very, very simple, our job is to move people," Houck said. "We are people movers, and we try to do that as efficiently as we can with the fewest number of steps and with leverage and attitude."

At 62 years old, Houck is the elder statesman on the Dolphins' coaching staff, and it was a surprise to many that he would leave Southern California at this stage of his career.

When asked why he would make the move, he replied: "Well, that's the same question my wife asked me. All our grandkids are in San Francisco and it was just very easy to get up there and, you're right, we had a wonderful place in LaJolla and we had a winning team and all of that, but there's something about coaching. Challenges are always very, very important. I was told a long time, you want to go where you have an outstanding owner and an outstanding head coach. and this situation here was really unbelievable, to me. And when it was available and I got a phone call, I said, Jiminy Christmas, this is the best owner in the league and we've got an excellent head coach that's proven to be a winner with experience in the NFL. And I said, boy, this is a nice challenge that I want to be part of."

Truth be told, the Dolphins also threw some major money at Houck. They did that because he's one of the best.

It won't be long now before he gets a chance to show it.


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